5 Important Tips To Build Your College Application Essay

When building a strong college application essay, consider these tips. 

  1. Answer Every Question In The Prompt

When writing a college application essay, it is crucial that you read and understand every piece of the essay prompt. Some prompts will include more than one question. Suppose you have selected the following prompt from the Common Application:

“Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?”

In this case, failing to answer, “Why does it captivate you?” or “What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?” leaves out a major portion of the prompt. In some cases, you will find that one of the questions requires deep reflection and a detailed response. In other cases, you can answer a portion of the prompt in just a few lines. Consider the weight of the question, and be sure that your response takes up an appropriate amount of space on the page. 

  1. Do Not Repeat Information From Your Short Answer Essays

When brainstorming and outlining your college application essay, be sure that you avoid repeating the information stated in your short answer essays. If the colleges you apply to require more than one essay or if their applications include short answer responses, you should ensure that each piece of writing is unique in its subject matter. Repetitive information wastes an opportunity for the college admissions counselor to get to know you better. 

  1. Write Multiple Drafts

Another tip for building a strong college application essay is writing more than one draft. Your work should be free of errors, and your progression of ideas should be engaging and logical. You should also use the process of drafting to develop a strong authorial voice and build meaningful connections in your narrative and your reflections. It may take multiple drafts for you to find a topic that works for you, and it may take several attempts before your ideas and reflections are fully detailed and completely refined. 

  1. Avoid Cliche Topics

When writing your college application essay, selecting a topic to write on can be the most difficult part of the writing process. As you brainstorm and test various prompts, be sure to avoid cliche topics. Remember, your reader will have read thousands of college application essays by the time your paper lands on their desk, and you want to stand out! Writing about your winning soccer goal, working hard in a difficult class, or a resume of your biggest accomplishments is common and cliche. 

  1. Ask Others To Read Your Work

A final important tip for building a strong college application essay is having someone else read your work. Whether you ask a peer, a teacher, a tutor, or a college admissions consultant to review your writing, you should know that having someone else read your college application essay will aid in eliminating errors and helps ensure you are submitting engaging work. 

10 Steps to Make Your College Essay Stand Out

Writing an essay that stands out can be difficult. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure that your writing is memorable and engaging. 

  1. Brainstorm And Outline Essays For More Than One Topic

If you want your college application essay to stand out, it is a good idea to brainstorm and outline multiple essays. While this work can be time-consuming, it will provide you with a great opportunity to consider topics that you may not consider in your initial writing process. Brainstorming and writing multiple drafts that focus on a range of topics or prompts creates room for strong details, well-developed reflections, and engaging ideas in your writing process. 

Some students strategize by using their first draft as a starting point for their creative process. Remain open-minded throughout the brainstorming and outlining part of your writing process. Start by dedicating significant time to working through multiple topics, to find the one that works best for you. 

  1. Write About Something You Care About

If you want to write a college essay that stands out, it is crucial that you write about something that you care about. Do not write an essay about something you think the reader wants to hear. If your work is disingenuous to your experiences, values, or personality, then it will be obvious to your reader. 

  1. Write About Yourself

It is easy to slip into the narrative mode of writing, without taking time to reflect on how the experiences, people, or events impact your life and your future. Your college application essay needs to talk about why the story is important to your beliefs, values, decisions, and goals. Be deliberate in providing the reader with knowledge of who you are. 

  1. Show Off Your Writing Skills

Another tip to make your college application essay stand out is to take advantage of an opportunity to show off your creative writing skills. Start with engaging word choice and diction. From there you can refine a strong authorial voice and provide bold details. Remember, your essay should tell a story. Find the moments to bring that story to life by placing the reader in your shoes with sensory details. 

  1. Be Direct In Stating What You Can Bring To Campus

Another way to stand out is by eliminating any guesswork to the question, “How will this student impact our college campus?” Your reader wants to get to know you, and you can be explicit in providing an answer to this question. Be confident in stating what values, goals, strengths, and experiences you plan to carry into your future. 

  1. Write An Amazing Introduction 

To write an essay that stands out, your introduction should be unique and engaging. If you find that your essay is lackluster, spend some time drafting multiple introduction paragraphs, and find one that works for you. 

  1. Make The Essay Personal To The School You Are Applying To

Another way to stand out is to write an essay that shows your passion and involvement in the school you are applying to. How do you connect to their values and pursuits? You can get specific in answering this question. 

  1. Build a Strong Authorial Voice 

As we have aforementioned, developing a strong authorial voice can make or break your essay. Your reader should be able to recognize your personal voice and writing style as your own. Some students write in a more colloquial voice throughout their personal statement essays. Your work should not be too casual, but you may seek some moments to highlight your personality through tone, diction, and word choice. 

  1. Write an Essay That Is Free From Errors

A basic rule that you need to keep in mind as you revise and edit your work, is that your essay must be free of any spelling and grammar errors. You should also keep in mind that your progression of ideas should logically flow. Having another person read your work before you submit your college application essay is a great way to ensure your writing is flawless. 

  1. Remember Who Your Reader Is 

One last tip: remember who is reading your essay! The reader will have a pile of papers on their desk, and the application below yours may belong to a student with the exact same GPA, SAT scores, and ACT scores as you. The essay is your chance to convince the admissions counselor that you deserve an acceptance letter! Be vulnerable, take your time, and submit the best essay possible. 

As you brainstorm, write, edit, and revise your college application essay, consider these tips! You should know that FLEX College Prep offers students resources to streamline the writing process and submit memorable essays. FLEX provides the opportunity to work with former admissions counselors whose experience and expertise can guide you through any step of the writing process. If you need support finding a topic to write on, writing an essay that stands out, or editing your essay to perfection, FLEX’s college admissions consulting program will ensure your success!