Tips for writing a standout college application essay

Students are often intimidated by beginning the college application process, and the essay can be one of the most intimidating elements. However, by approaching the writing process in a systematic and organized way, students can remove much of the stress.

The admissions essay offers an opportunity to showcase your accomplishments and activities in the form of a personal narrative. Students sometimes panic because they don’t know what story to tell or believe they need to come up with an incredibly original idea, but it’s much easier to brainstorm which parts of your profile you want to showcase and start from there. While it’s ideal to show a well-rounded mix of activities, your priority should be to highlight activities you have shown a significant commitment to, especially if you have taken on leadership roles or produced work such as a paper, project, art piece or event. When you are thinking about choosing between your activities, remember that ultimately this is an application for a college, so academic accomplishments such as working in a lab or on research with a professor will be especially important to feature. Working with an admissions counselor can help you navigate this writing process.

Another aspect you need to consider is whether the parts of your profile you are emphasizing fit together in a coherent narrative. You want to present a picture of yourself to the reader that makes sense. For example, a student interested in medicine might focus in on a volunteer activity that shows compassion and community spirit, an academic project that highlights how they are building hard skills, and an athletic or other extracurricular commitment that demonstrates discipline and focus, and relate all of these to their motivations for and progress toward studying medicine. Our advisors can help you choose the most important parts of your profile to highlight. This technique will build the underlying structure you need for your essay and ensure that all of the relevant information is included… but if you stop here, your essay may be quite boring! This is the stage where you need to weave in personal elements, such as an anecdote that connects your narrative and demonstrates your personality, or other creative “frames” for your essay that will allow you to open with a “hook” that catches the reader’s attention and bring the essay full circle in your conclusion. As always, we are here to help you find the best way to express your creative ideas for a successful application!