How to Write a College Essay: Step-by-Step Guide & Top Tips

College essays make a lot of students nervous. This is not surprising because the competition among students is extremely high, and the college essay allows the selection committee to determine the most deserving candidates. In other words, the college essay is a kind of direct dialogue with your admissions committee, and you have only one chance to make a positive first impression. Therefore, it is unreasonable to neglect such a paper. For students wishing to enter a prestigious educational institution, our college essay writer service has prepared a helpful article: we’ll discuss the importance of college essays, allowable lengths, winning topics, and step-by-step instruction.

How Important are College Essays – Harvard Student Opinions

Many students mistakenly think that college essays are less critical than good grades and excellent test scores. However, more recently, the college admissions office has reduced the emphasis on standardized testing results and increasingly focuses on essays. From a teacher’s point of view, college essays reveal hidden talents that can contribute to the development of an institution. As for students, according to Harvard graduates, the essay gives them three advantages:

  • Gain the upper hand over your competitors. If you consider applying to a public college, be prepared for a fierce selection process. In this case, the essay will play a key role in your admission due to a large number of precious candidates. If your goal is a private college, an essay will still be an essential document. This is because private college professors spend more time studying student stories. Therefore, by writing a unique article, you can catch the attention of strict teachers and secure a spot at college.
  • Overlap your academic shortcomings. If your grades are above average, an essay will be an excellent addition. However, if your scores are not as high and much lower than other candidates, an impressive essay can save the situation. By writing a strong essay, you can demonstrate your desire to study at your chosen college. Professors value creative, purposeful, and ready to overcome difficulties students.
  • Describe the skills that are absent in the diploma. Students submit a high school diploma, TOEFL and IELTS exam results, medical certificates, and letters of recommendation when entering college. All these documents do not reveal your skills at their true worth. However, an essay is what describes why you are a good fit for this faculty. For example, you could talk about volunteering, internships, and life experiences that have nurtured strengths in you and skills.

Essays are inevitable, making up the lion’s share of your recognition, no matter your specialty. Therefore, you should not underestimate the importance of these papers.

How Long Should a College Essay Be – Golden Mean

We recommend that you count the volume of your essay not by pages but by words. Most colleges follow this system because it’s convenient. All papers will be the same length, even if students choose a different font or format.

If you don’t know what word limit your college has set for essays, visit its website for all requirements. Often, educational institutions are asked to write an essay of no more than 500 words. Professors do not like to read long texts, as it is very tiring.

You must never exceed the established word limit. Why? First, as a college student, you must stick to your guidance. Your goal is to demonstrate that you are well prepared to study at your chosen college.

Second, teachers love students who are willing to follow the rules and not break them. If the selection committee has set a limit of 500 words, then this is their vision, and you have no right to contradict this rule. In addition, professors rarely read long essays, and you risk being left unheard.

Thirdly, the admission committee appreciates students who can clearly and concisely declare themselves. If your article contains many uninformative sentences, it is at that moment that you were thinking not about how to make an impression but about how to fill in a blank sheet of paper. The professors will feel that you are not ready for college and reject your application. Therefore, your every word must be appropriate.

What Should I Write My College Essay About – Best Ideas

People in the admissions committee, reading your essay, will want to know your characteristics, which are hidden behind the grades in the diploma. For this reason, your paper should be based on an honest and compelling story. Here are some great themes that will let you beat your competitors:

  • A situation that made you step out of your comfort zone. Tell a story in which you had to deal with unusual events that changed you for the better. The stories in which you challenge yourself will demonstrate your leadership qualities;
  • Failures that made you stronger. A negative experience is also a valuable experience. Tell a story that helped you develop courage. Such a theme will demonstrate your ability to cope with difficulties;
  • Children’s dreams that you want to realize. Perhaps the dream of becoming a doctor stretches from childhood. Tell readers why being a doctor is essential to you and who instilled this desire. The admission committee appreciates students ready to fulfill their dream even after many years;
  • Achievements that you are proud of. If your achievements are displayed in the form of statues and winning certificates, this is no reason not to share the story of how you achieved these successes. Tell people how much effort you put in to achieve high results, how long it took you to achieve this, and what obstacles you encountered;
  • Idols that inspired you to master your chosen profession. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama are great people the younger generation looks up to. Tell teachers about the person who made you believe in yourself and enter the chosen program.

We list only five topics that will never go out of trend. However, you have the right to talk about politics, medicine, education, friendship, and everything that will help the selection committee to know more about you.

How to Write a Good College Essay – 6 Steps

Writing a college essay is not that difficult if you follow the step-by-step instruction. We have divided the writing process into six steps that even a beginner can handle!

Conduct a Brainstorm

Brainstorming is a method of solving problems by generating as many ideas as possible. In this case, brainstorming involves:

  • Reflection on life experience to find a strong example. Think about situations in which you will advantageously represent your skills and character qualities;
  • Writing ideas. If you don’t write down your thoughts, you run the risk of missing something important – so try to write down everything that comes to your mind in a notebook;
  • Selection of the best ideas. Reread your thoughts and choose ideas that will most interest the admissions committee.

Create an Essay Outline

For your essay not to resemble a chaotic stream of thoughts, you need an outline. To draw up an essay plan means breaking the article into fragments and mentally highlighting the main stages of the path your ideas will develop. It is most convenient to display these fragments in point form.

As a rule, as the title of an essay section, no separate words but detailed sentences are taken out. Why? Separate words are too narrow and specific – it isn’t easy to convey the main idea or topic. Expanded sentences are a semantic unity that carries information in a collapsed form. Thanks to this method, you can see the structure of the future article. As an example, consider a plan on the topic “My dream is to be a teacher:”

  • Introduction: Socrates quote about the destiny of a teacher;
  • Thesis statement: the teacher is a model and not a rival;
  • Body: being a teacher is a childhood dream; my mother is my example of an ideal teacher; my experience as a teacher’s assistant;
  • Conclusion: what am I willing to do for my dream?

The example clearly shows that thoughts do not repeat themselves, connect and reveal the topic well. Therefore, before moving on to the next step, create an outline.

Write an Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for the entire essay. This section should start with a specific hook that will grab the reader’s attention. It can be statistics, quotes, aphorisms, anecdotes, or questions. The reader’s engagement will depend on how interesting a fact you provide at the beginning of the article.

We do not recommend using cliché phrases such as this topic is quite relevant; in my life, I have encountered this problem many times; the quote’s author means that. These phrases kill the article’s uniqueness. Finishing an introduction is worth a thesis statement – this is the leading idea for which you are writing an essay. For example, “the teacher is a model and not a rival” is a thesis statement that you will prove using arguments. The average length of an introduction is 3-5 sentences.

Write a Body

The body of an essay usually consists of 3-4 paragraphs. Each paragraph should include an argument in support of the thesis statement. Let’s go back to our example. The first argument for the thesis “the teacher is a model and not a rival” might include information about how your mother behaved like a teacher – so you demonstrate who inspired you to this idea.

The second argument might be about your experience as a teacher’s assistant. You can write a story about how you attended your mother’s classes, helped her prepare presentations for the lessons, and helped students get through academic difficulties. Your task is to demonstrate that you know firsthand about the work of a teacher. The further principle of constructing paragraphs is based on these examples.

As arguments, you can use a situation from life, news, the opinion of a scientist, a scientific theory, or a fact proven by science. However, do not forget that the paragraphs should be united by one topic.

Write a Conclusion

In conclusion, you should summarize all of the above. You can reiterate the thesis statement and briefly go through the arguments. Then you can write that you dream of achieving the same success as your idol and what you are ready for for the program you are applying for. The final part aims to make the essay coherent and push the reader to accept your application.

Proofread an Essay and Check It for Uniqueness

This is the last but no less critical step. Grammar and originality affect your success. After writing an essay:

  • set the paper aside for 24 hours;
  • at the end of this time, reread the article;
  • see if all sentences have a logical flow and if they are related to each other;
  • exclude punctuation, stylistic, grammatical mistakes, and sentences that do not carry a semantic load from the article;
  • check the essay’s uniqueness using plagiarism detection tools and rewrite problematic paragraphs. If your essay contains other writers’ thoughts, this will negatively affect your academic reputation (quotations, historical facts, statistics, aphorisms, and anecdotes are exceptions to the rule);
  • don’t forget to format the paper according to the desired style: Harvard, Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.

General College Essay Writing Tips

We have provided you with an effective step-by-step guide. However, with the help of these tips, you can improve your essay:

  • if you find it challenging to write about your experience, choose a different topic – teachers respect students’ boundaries;
  • if you find it difficult to understand structuring, contact our essay writer service – a professional look at the task will increase your chances of applying;
  • write true facts – teachers check all the information you provide in an essay, so be honest;
  • if you have difficulty formatting, use Word or Google Document – the tools will instantly format the paper, taking into account the requirements of the APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.;
  • to make sure your paragraphs are well connected, highlight the first sentence of each section and see if they have a connection;
  • don’t delay writing – creating a winning essay can take over a week.

Now you are fully armed and ready to write a unique essay. We wish you success!

Word count: 275

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Our Expert Writers
Writer Sandra Brown Photo

Sandra Brown

Academic Writer

Writer David White Photo

David White

Academic Writer

Writer Ashley Guzman Photo

Ashley Guzman

Academic Writer

Writer Robert Greear Photo

Robert Greear

Academic Writer

Need College Essay Writing Help?
We are Here To Help