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How to Write the Best College Admissions Essay.

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College admissions essay writing can be an exciting and also nerve-wracking time. With colleges moving away from standardized test scores, application essays are more important than ever.

Why are College Admissions Essays Important?

As colleges begin to make standardized test scores optional or nonexistent on applications, high school students will need to focus on building other areas of their application.

Their high school transcript and extracurricular experience will be the main catalyst of their application.

Along with those aspects of the application, the college admissions office will be focusing more on the college admissions essay.

Colleges want an applicant who is a well-rounded individual and the college admissions essay is a great way for applicants to showcase that!

Proper Length of a College Admissions Essay

Most college admissions offices do not have a minimum or maximum word count for an essay. They are looking for an essay that is well-written with limited errors.

Applicants should strive to write an essay that is short, concise, and is able to keep the attention of the reader. As my father would say, “Take the time to be brief”.

More importantly, the admissions office is looking for an essay that is honest and provides them with a chance to understand the applicant’s background and values.

Applicants should work to share their voice within the essay to let their true selves shine through.

Choosing a Topic for a College Admissions Essay

Choosing a topic for a college admissions essay may be the most difficult part for the applicant. While college applications will usually provide a writing prompt, it is not at all specific and the writer will need to narrow in on what they want to share.

After considering the prompt and brainstorming, the applicant should choose a topic that allows them to share their authentic self.

The topic should allow the reader to understand who the student is and why they would be a good fit for the college campus.

Applicants should avoid topics that are broad and do not allow them to demonstrate their personality.

Once a topic is chosen, applicants can share their ideas with their parents, teachers, and friends to get feedback and suggestions.

Preparing to Write a College Admissions Essay

Once a topic is chosen, it is a good idea to outline and plan your essay. Outlining the essay will help with writing organization and allow the reader to better understand the voice of the writer. It is also highly recommended to take time to construct this essay and not to do it last minute. 

Here are some suggestions on how to prepare for a college admissions essay:

  • Use a graphic organizer
  • Create a list of main ideas and details of the essay
  • Use a word map 
  • Voice record ideas

Preparing for an essay is an individualized process. 

It may take some time to find a process that works, but organizing one’s thoughts is an important step to helping ensure that the essay flows. 

Editing a College Admissions Essay

After the writing process is complete, the applicant should always reread and edit their own work. 

With colleges beginning to move away from standardized testing scores, it is of utmost importance that applicants put their essays through an editing process to ensure quality.

Here is an effective system for editing a college admission essay: 

Read the essay for structure

The first step to editing a college application essay is to read the essay for structure. The applicant wants to make sure that the essay is organized and gets across the intended message to the reader. 

Read the essay for grammatical and punctuation

Once the essay is organized properly, the second step to editing is ensuring that all grammatical and punctuation errors are corrected. 

College admissions will disqualify applicants based on careless mistakes in this area and writers should spend ample time editing. 

Step away from the essay

After spending lots of time on an essay, it is important to take a break and step away from the essay. 

The applicant should reread the essay using tips from steps one and two once they are able to take a new perspective on it.

Read the essay aloud

Reading the essay out loud will allow the reader to hear the flow of the essay and correct anything that sounds out of place. It is a good technique that allows the reader to ensure that their voice is being portrayed in its truest form. 

Ask someone to edit the essay

Ask a parent, teacher, or friend to edit the essay. Getting a different set of eyes on the essay will give the writer a different point of view and allow a third party to determine if the essay depicts the writer in a positive manner. 

Consider all feedback and make adjustments

After a third-party edit, the applicant must consider all feedback and make the proper adjustments. It is important for the writer to push away any bias they have to ensure the essay is ready for submission. 


When writing a college admissions essay, always stay true to who you are and let your authentic self shine through!

Stay empowerED,

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