How do You Write a Great College Essay?

Great College Admission Essay

Are you wondering how to write a great college essay? If yes, this detailed guide is going to be quite helpful to you. We break down everything you need in your essay to get the university to pick you. The number one university on your list will have a hard time turning you down if you follow our essay pointers.

I have covered everything that you need to know about writing a great college essay. So read this guide thoroughly from start to end without missing a single point.

What is a College Admission Essay?

A College Essay is actually an important part of the application submitted by students for admission into a college.

The essay offers the students a chance to show the admission committee the most important qualities they have and how they are better from the other applicants.

Sometimes, a college essay is also referred to as a “Personal Statement” or “College Application Essay”.

A college essay is considered to be a very tough part of the application process. So it is of utmost importance to learn how to write a great college essay.

How Can I Make my College Admission Essay Stand Out?

You cannot write a college essay in the same way as you have always written term papers in high school. In order to make your college essay stand out from the other applicants, you can follow the tips I have mentioned below:

The First Paragraph Must be Super Engaging

“The first impression is the last impression”, it is generally stated.

It is the first paragraph or the introduction part of your essay that will not only capture the attention of the reader but also will urge the reader to continue to read more.

Hence make the first paragraph quite captivating by applying any of the following strategies:

  • You can start your essay by asking a question from the reader.

  • Challenging the reader is another captivating way to start the essay.

  • You can also start the essay using a bold statement.

  • Another interesting and captivating way to start a college essay is to mention what you are not going to include in your essay.

  • Using a quote is also an interesting way to start the essay.

The Essay Must be Well Organized

Another important thing is that your college essay should make sense. It simply means that there should be a logical transition between different sections or parts of the essay.

In order to make sure that your essay is well organized and logical in meaning, you need to read and edit several times. You should also let others read, edit and check if it actually makes a sense.

Try to be as Real as Possible

Your essay must represent your own voice. Hence it is important for you to write in your own personal way or the way you actually speak. And, the essay must honestly show how you think.

How Can I Write an Amazing Essay?

Writing an amazing college essay has never been an easy task. But you can make it easy for yourself if you follow the 5 steps given below:

1)  Understand the Questions

The very first step in writing a great college essay is beginning with understanding the question. It is actually the preparation part so you need to understand what is actually being asked in the question so you can answer appropriately.

It is highly recommended to read the essay questions at least 2-3 times so you can write down notes on how you want to answer it.

2)  Brainstorm

The next step in the process of writing an amazing college essay is to brainstorm and collect all the possible ideas related to the essay questions.

This part is super important.

That’s because without having all the ideas laid out it will be hard to go in the right direction when actually writing your college application essay.

3)  Make an Outline of the Essay

Once you are done with the brainstorming part of the process, make an outline of the essay you are going to write. In this part of the process, you will make a plan about how you are going to present the ideas collected in the brainstorming process.

Try to cut down your essay into various sections.

Remember to organize the outline in such a way that it may easily reflect the introduction part, body and the conclusion part of the essay.

4)  Start Writing and Complete the Essay

Now it’s the time to actually start writing, once you have prepared the outline of your essay.

Follow your outline from the beginning to the end. Remember it’s not the final draft so just write without going back to make any changes or corrections.

Once you are done with writing what you have intended to write and also reached the required number of words, go back to make corrections, wherever needed.

5)  Edit and Proofread to Finalize the Essay

The last step in this process of writing an amazing and engaging college essay is to edit and proofread what you have already written so that you may be able to come up with the final piece of your essay.

There should be no grammatical errors because such errors prove you to be careless in the eye of the admission committee. Read carefully while proofreading and editing for the final revision.

It is highly recommended that you get your essay read and checked by some other person. It will help you find errors, misspellings, and bad sentence structure if you have someone else read it.

You can hire someone online to proofread it by going to Fiverr or Upwork.

Once you are done with the proofreading, you are good to go with your final college essay.

What Should I Put in My College Essay?

As mentioned earlier also, your college essay tells the AC (admission committee) how you are different from the other applicants.

To stand out from the crowd, it is necessary to show why they should pick you over everyone else. To show why you should be picked the following things should be in your college essay:

  • Your achievements

  • Your passion and goals

  • Obstacles you face

  • Values and personality you have

  • Who influences you and how he/she influences

  • Your real character

What is the Format I Should Use in My Essay?

When it comes to the format of a college essay, a big key is the spacing, margins, headings, font sizes, etc. The format that you should use for the essay should have the following features:

  • The first feature of the format that you should use for your essay is spacing. MS word offers a default spacing of 1 but 1.5 or double will make it easier to read.

  • Another important feature of the format of your essay is the margin. The MS word, by default, offers a margin of 1-inch which is what we recommend.

  • Font size and font type are also important features of the essay format. By default, MS Word offers a font size of 12 and the font type as Times New Roman. This font size and type are recommended to use in your college essay.

  • Another important feature of your essay format is the headings you use. There should be your name in the first line.

What are the Best College Essay Topics?

Now you must be wondering which topics you should choose to write on for your college essay. What kind of topic will help you to easily get into college?

This may be really easy because the university will tell you what they want you to write about and how many words they expect.

Check out the admissions for the University of Cincinnati. The example below in italics is from Cincinnati University website admission apply prompts.

Application Writing Prompts


For the purpose of your Cincinnati application, writing ability is demonstrated in both The Common Application essay and the University of Cincinnati personal statement. It is important to put your best foot forward through these responses in order for the admissions staff to draw a full picture of why you would be a good fit at the University of Cincinnati. Therefore, as you prepare your application, spend time on these components of the application and don’t be afraid to have family, teachers or counselors weigh in and provide feedback.

Students must choose one of the following topics to complete an essay of no more than 650 words:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

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?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Personal Statement

Students must also submit a personal statement in response to the following prompt in approximately 500 words:

Why did you apply to each of the academic programs listed on your application? This personal statement should provide additional information not already referenced in your application.

Source: University of Cincinnati

College Essay Topics

We have listed below some of the important things colleges will be looking for you to discuss:

·  Commitment

In your college essay, you can explain the commitments you have in your life. What drives you to do something and what are you passionate about.

·  Challenges

If you write a college application essay on challenges, it will tell the admission committee how you handle difficult times in your life. The admission committee will be curious to see how you are able to solve problems when hard times hit you.

·  Essay on any topic

You can also center your college essay on any topic meaningful to you. Life on a farm, growing up poor, helping others and so forth. Look to go deep on this.

What Should You not Write In a College Essay?

Knowing what not to write in a college essay is also as much important as to know what to write in it. You should always avoid writing the following things in the essay:

·  A Famous Quote

You should not mention a famous quote. This kind of approach highlights that you may not be original, which ultimately may leave a bad impression on the admission committee.

·  High-Level Vocabulary Words

High-level vocabulary words will not work because the committees want your natural and personal voice in your essay. Hence try to write like you are talking to a friend about your essay topic.

·  Educational Details

Since you would have already furnished your educational details in the application and resume, there is no need to mention such things in your college essay. Stick to what the college says they want you to write about in the essay requirements.

·  Extracurricular Experiences

Extracurricular experiences would also have already been mentioned in your resume. So you should not tell that again in your essay. But you can mention how these experiences will be beneficial for you in the future.

How Should I Start Off my College Essay?

I have seen many students staring at the blank screen thinking of how they should start their college essay.

You know that a killer introduction is a key to great success in making your essay stand out from the other applicants.

I have provided for you below two of the most important things that you need to know to start off your college essay:

  • The first sentence must be killer, impressive and captivating. If the first sentence is captivating, it works as a hook to grab the attention of the reader and it creates a curiosity in him to read more.

  • Colleges want someone serious about learning and a go-getter. You need to let them no you get things done and are self-motivated.

  • Read essays online that are ones that worked. Most essays are not top-notched Pultizer prize-winning writings. They are personal stories that drew the admission adviser in.

What are Colleges Looking for in an Essay?

To do the best you can on a college admission essay you will need to be aware of what the colleges are actually looking for in an essay.

There are many things you can include in your essay. For example, your creativity, originality, source of motivation, enthusiasm-level, reasoning power and so on…

But the most important things that the colleges are actually looking for in an essay are your individuality, your personal options, and thoughts that must be reflected in the essay.

Should You Use the First Person in a College Essay?

When it comes to using the first person in a college essay, we recommend you do it if possible.

Yes, you can write your college application essay in the first person. Writing in this way will actually help you to express your thoughts in a more personal and engaging way.

Why do College Essays Matter?

There are many reasons a college application essay is important. Below I have mentioned two of the most important reasons that these essays matter a lot:

  • A college essay offers you the opportunity to show the qualities that make you different from the other applicants. Such positive differentiation plays a very crucial role in helping admissions select the right candidates.

  • By revealing your future ambitions and goals in your college essay, you can easily highlight how much you will be active in various campus activities.


Writing a great college essay might seem to be a little stressful and it will also consume a considerable amount of your time. But trust me, a well-written essay can make a big difference when it comes to the decision taken by the admission committee regarding your acceptance into the college.

I hope this guide helps you with writing an amazing essay that will blow the socks off the admission teams.

If this was helpful you should also read what is required for college admission.

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