2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Advice for writing a college essay

I am going to be a junior this year and was wondering if anyone had any good advice on writing college essays. I have no idea where to start and was looking for some help or guidance. I am looking to maybe go into business I don't know if that makes any difference but I am also not so sure if that is what I want to do.

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Hi sunnyfish001! I'm a senior in high school and in my English class, we are practicing writing our college essays. A few things that my teacher stressed is to be YOURSELF! Don't write what you think the admissions office would want to hear. Don't write about anything that is already on your transcripts or anything that they have may have already seen. With an approximate 650 word limit you won’t have space to reveal everything about yourself, but you will have an opportunity to highlight a slice of who you are. You want that slice to be interesting and engaging. College admission counselors want to know how well you write, but they also want to know about your thought process, values, preferences and style. What you write about is as important as how well you write it. It is the only opportunity you have to tell the application committee a little about yourself, your values, your enthusiasm, your creativity, and your writing ability. Assume that they have already looked at your grades, your recommendations, your resume, your application itself—they read the essay last. And finally, make sure to answer the essay question and not get off-topic. I don't know if it may be different in a business school college app, but that should apply for almost all essays. Hope this helps. Good luck!!

2 years ago

It's really good that you're thinking about this so early, so first of all kudos for planning ahead. If you're struggling to come up with a topic, College Essay Guy has free material that helps you brainstorm topics. You can also write down any random memory or point of interest in your life. Major events that changed you are great for essays. Colleges also like creative topics, so look at some of the best essays for inspiration (just look up essay that got me into Stanford or best college essays). Other tips that I've picked up from my personal research include:

-Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. This shows personality and who you are.

-Engage the senses. Can someone else immerse themselves in the situation you pose? Can they smell the scent of spices wafting from the kitchen? Can they feel the chill of the winter frost? Use sensory adjectives.

-Make sure if you talk about someone else who inspired you that you don't focus on them too much. You're the one who wants to go to college, so make sure you highlight your strengths and how that person impacted you positively.

-Demonstrate growth. No matter the topic, let it show how you improved as a person, whether it be academically or with your identity.

-No cliche essays. You can look up a list, but be wary of topics about sports games, mission trips, covid 19. These all have exceptions if you can make them unique, but generally avoid these because they're generic. Imagine the admissions officers who read these essays all the time; they're tired of seeing the same topics over and over. This is why creative essays are so good.

I found all this information online for free. There are a ton of resources out there to help you.

In terms of your major, it can help to highlight aspects of that in your essay (eg: stories of you starting a business). Don't worry if you aren't sure what you want to do. I found out my junior year by taking a new class that I adored. The thing about majors is to see how competitive they are in the college(s) you want to attend. But as it relates to your essay, you don't have to have it figured out. You can write an essay demonstrating personal growth apart from your major/academic achievements. I love the peer essay review tool on CollegeVine because it gives you great outside opinions about your topic. You don't even have to take the advice, but it's really helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes on your essay.

Best of luck on your college journey <3

2 years ago

As someone who has taken like all of the offered essay writing and college essay courses at my own high school- the best advice I could give for anyone is to focus on the topic the most. A good topic is supported by all of it's body paragraphs- but it should be prevalent in them too. And don't forget! This is not a persuasive essay. Talk about your experiences and your extra curriculars no doubt, but anecdotes that lack traits of character development and desirables for certain unis tend to come off as brags and feel good stories.

For example, if I were writing about my experiences with feminism and decided to talk about my first time seeing a family member dealing with it- it's important to show the moment I saw it in real life and then the action I took from it. A bad essay would be focused on how I am a good person because of my personal acceptance of women and women's rights. This comes off the wrong way- but it often has good intentions.

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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