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The College Essay

The College Essay

Why do I have write an essay?

Several colleges will ask you to include an essay or a personal statement with the application.  It may sound like a lot of work (and it is definitely a lot of work!), BUT it is an opportunity for your individuality to shine!  Admissions officers do place the majority of their decision based on your high school academics. However, many colleges receive an overwhelming number of applicants from worthy students with similar scores and grades and  they aren't able to admit every eligible student. They use your essay as a way to find out more about you and identify what sets you apart from the other candidates.


What's Your Story

  • What is it that makes you unique and sets you apart from others?  Do you have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell colleges what makes you tick!

  • In order for your essay to be meaningful it's best to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that is meaningful to you.

  • Remember that honesty and genuine writing will highlight your uniqueness and your best attributes will stand out.

Common Mistakes

  • Don't try to be funny in your essay.  It could easily be interpreted the wrong way and the adult reading your application might not have the same sense of humor as a teenager.

  • Don't try to sound intelligent by using words you don't use on a daily basis. Admissions officers can tell if the word fits the situation or if was picked using a thesaurus.

  • Don't write about a subject that you don't care about it's easily identifiable that you aren't passionate about the subject.

  • DO be yourself and let you brightest qualities shine!

Remember that you don't need to write your essay about something that an admissions officer has never read.  Mostly likely the person reading your essay has seen many essays with similar topics,  BUT they haven't read yours.  So write a thoughtful essay that explains your motivation for attending college and express what you plan to contribute to the college you are applying to.


The Structure of the Essay

Write about something important to you, whether it's a person, a job, an experience, or a passion!

Many students give the specific details of an event or experience and it doesn't add value to your essay.  You NEED to reflect on that event or experience, by describing what you learned about yourself, how and if it changed you as a person.

Start EARLY and plan to write several drafts of your essay. Put it aside for a couple of days and then reread it. Think like an admissions officer:

  • Is your essay interesting?

  • Do the ideas flow in a logical format?

  • Does it tell the admissions officer something about you?

  • Does it sound like it's the applicant's own voice?

  • Your essay should not be a list of your achievements or a timeline of an event...BORING, give the admissions officer new information about you, don't repeat other parts of your application. 

  • Don't list grades, test scores, or awards. 

The admissions reader should be able to get a good idea of who you are as a person and what you're passionate about.



Editing your own essay can be a difficult task.  Many times you can't distinguish information that may have been missed or information that may be repeated in your application somewhere else.  Ask at least one other individual read and edit your essay (a teacher or counselor is the best bet).  Before you submit your essay check for spelling and grammar, but your editor should be checking for flow, theme and purpose, not grammar and spelling.

The College Essay Presentation

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