The college essay is one of the few chances you have in the college application process to express yourself. So make the most of this opportunity to leave a lasting impression by following our tips on how to write a college essay below.

Begin

  • Start Early and Broadly: Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, and write down all of your thoughts. You can then narrow it down to the most interesting details.
  • Use Your Own Work: It might be tempting (and certainly easier) to copy the work of someone else, but colleges have zero tolerance for plagiarism (and usually detect it).

As You Write

  • Tell Your Story: Write about you, not someone else, and explain something that’s personal to you. Write in your own voice, from your own perspective.
  • Hook the Reader: Open with a statement that’s engaging, and follow it with well-structured paragraphs and a strong conclusion. Use your imagination and take risks while remaining true to your personality.
  • Share New Information: Don’t waste time writing about something that’s already in other parts of your application. That is an opportunity to tell the admissions staff something that they don’t already know about you.
  • Open Up: Be introspective, descriptive, and candid. Reveal meaningful things about yourself that you don’t often express.
  • Follow the Rules: Respect the time of the college admissions staff and stay within the required length of words.

Review

  • Seek Input: Ask a parent, friend, or teacher to read your revised draft and tell you — honestly — if it’s well written, compelling, and an honest reflection of who you are.
  • Proofread: Pay close attention to grammar, correct all typos, and double-check that your essay meets the college’s length specifications.