Seven Key Tips for a Winning College Essay

Getting accepted into your dream university is an aspiration many…

Getting accepted into your dream university is an aspiration many people have. And with so many hopefuls out there, it can be incredibly challenging to stand out from the crowd. One of the things that you can do to strengthen your application is to write a stunning college essay. But how should you start a college essay to impress admissions officers?

Well, there are many ways to go about writing your essay. This article has gathered seven key tips that will help you write a winning college essay. Follow these tips, and you’re sure to knock their socks off!

A notebook, laptop, iPhone, pencil case, and glasses on the table.
Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

How Should You Start a College Essay?

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed if you’re just starting out with your essay. There are plenty of ideas that may be running in your head. Here are a few steps you can do to help you as you get started.

Brainstorm Topics

First things first, before starting your essay, you’ll need to organize your thoughts and brainstorm essay topics. Take the time to ponder on what you want your essay to focus on.

Your topic should be meaningful to you while also demonstrating a part of yourself that is not apparent in other aspects of your application. Let them know the real you and what makes you unique. Once you have a clear and solid vision of what you want your essay to be about, you can create a more powerful essay.

Create a Rough Draft

Making a rough draft gives you the freedom to write without judgment. It also helps you push back writer’s block and get in the zone.

You can create a free-write session for each topic you have generated in your brainstorming session. Free writing is a great way to warm up your creative writing brain while watching which topics are flowing more naturally on the page.

Create an Outline

Write the outline for your entire essay once you have settled on an essay topic. You can organize all your thoughts, write the body, and then go back to writing the introduction. This lets you now know what direction you want your essay to go because you have written it out. You can also ensure that all parts of your essay connect seamlessly to form the big picture.

Admissions officers are looking for quality in the content of your essay. And students can better deliver on this by understanding how to structure an essay logically.

What Are Colleges Looking for in Essays?

Colleges ask prospective students to write personal essays as part of their application process to learn more about them.

They want context on each student’s background, the value they can bring to campus, and examples that demonstrate their characteristics. This also gives students a chance to put their skills into writing and making their case in a succinct but nevertheless persuasive way.

7 Key Tips for a Winning College Essay

Don’t Drag on for Too Long.

This is a common mistake most people make when writing college essays. You want to keep your essay within 400-600 words. If you drag on for too long, you run the risk of making your essay dull and an uninteresting read. 

Start With an Attention Grabber.

Right off the bat, your essay needs to spark interest in your application. This has a lot to do with how you construct your introduction. Make sure to use an attention-grabbing hook that will entice them to keep reading. Some of the things you can do for your hook are:

  • Ask a question.
  • Start with a bold statement.
  • Use an interesting or inspiring quote (nothing cliche)
  • Challenge your reader by speaking directly to them

Use an Anecdote to Create a Vivid Description of Your Main Point.

Adding anecdotes to your essay is a great idea to help the reader get a better understanding of the type of person you are. Make your anecdote vivid by including details that paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Your anecdote should support the point of your essay.

Don’t Just Be Another Applicant.

Let your personality shine through from the pages of your essay. You shouldn’t aim to sound like every other applicant who is just trying to get in. Show that you are different and a perfect fit for the campus you are applying to.

Avoid Stale, Overused Introductory Techniques.

There’s nothing that kills interest in a college essay more than a cliché introduction. Avoid common statements like “In this essay, I will talk about” or “The challenges I’ve been through have shaped the person I am.” These are extremely overused statements and can come off as insincere. 

Don’t Try to Use Impressive Vocabulary Words.

It’s great to display your vocabulary prowess to admission officers, but make sure not to overdo it. Not only will this make your essay harder to read, but it may make you sound like a show-off.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread.

It can’t be said enough. You NEED to proofread your essay. College essays need to be grammatically correct, nothing less. It should also not contain any spelling errors. This may leave a wrong impression in the mind of admissions officers; that you don’t take your application seriously enough.

Wrapping Up

The common question when it comes to writing college essays is: how should you start a college essayThe beginning process is often the hardest. Hopefully, this article has helped shed some light on the steps you can take to make a winning essay. Make use of these articles, and your essay is sure to stand out!

Seven Key Tips for a Winning College Essay

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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