Tips for Writing a College Admissions Essay

It’s that time of year when seniors finally experience the peak of high school. Finally, you’re the top dog after so long. You made it through that terrifying freshman year and the purgatory-like sophomore year. You worked your butt off all of junior year studying for your SAT and ACT, hoping to get a high enough score for your dream school. And finally, you get to sit back and relax, even if it’s just a little more than last year. But there is one very important thing you need to get done before you let your senioritis hit you, your college essay. So here are 5 tips for writing a college admissions essay.  

5 Tips for Writing a College Admissions Essay

1. Don’t Procrastinate On This One Assignment

Procrastination is my biggest academic (and professional) struggle. I thrive under the pressure of due dates. It focuses me. I could blame it on my ADHD, which is probably the root cause, but I’m also lazy and hate homework when I don’t need to do it yet. And with your college admissions essay, you don’t need to start writing right away, but at the very least, start thinking about what you want to write about for it. Great writing doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. It can also be hard to write about yourself or your life experience. Some of us have issues opening up, even for something as important as getting into college. So DO NOT procrastinate, please! 

2. Draft, Draft, Draft

Maybe you’re the type who only ever wrote one version of a paper and didn’t care about edits. (Totally not talking about myself at all.) But your first idea and iteration of your college essay will not be your best. It’s more word vomit than anything. You should take the time to write, edit, rewrite, and hone the idea you want to convey in your essay. The Letter S essay didn’t happen in one go, and it is one of the best college admissions essays I’ve read. I know it’s a drag to write, edit, rewrite, and hone an idea. Most people hate writing and hate writing about themselves even more. But trust the process and do your best. The reward is worth it. 

3. Recount VS Reflect

Your college admissions essay isn’t about telling a story. You aren’t there to entertain the reader. You’re not recounting a funny tidbit about your life. You should take this essay as an opportunity to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned so far. Colleges don’t care about when you went to Spain for the summer. What they do care about is how that trip may have changed you as a person. Did it widen your world perspective or invigorate you to learn about new cultures and languages? (Yeah, I went with a cheesy example. Sue me.) Don’t tell a story or recount events like facts; reflect on those events and tell the colleges you are applying to and how they have shaped you. 

4. This Is Not About Accomplishments

Your college admissions essay is not the time for you to list your accomplishments and accolades. You should have already done that in other parts of your college application. If your essay is about a time when you were working hard towards something that led to an accomplishment, but it is about your journey and the things you learned instead of the end, then go for it. But don’t list everything you’ve earned or won in your essay. Again, it’s not the time or place. 

5. Have Someone Else Edit  

Without a doubt, having someone else edit your essay is the most obvious thing for me to say, but it might go overlooked. Have an English teacher or someone you trust who is good at this stuff look over it for you. And if you don’t know someone who can edit and revise some of your essay for you, then run it through Grammarly or take it to the library. Librarians are the single greatest resource for anyone in school. You can edit your essay as much as you want, but our brains will always fill in some weird gaps that might be obvious to someone else. 

Senior Year Is The Best

Senior year was my best year of high school, and it wasn’t close. You are used to the stress of high school, classes are a little easier, and you get to hype yourself over college as the year comes closer to an end. Just a few reminders from the worst student, don’t let your senioritis hit too hard. Colleges still care about your last year of grades. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself, especially if you play sports. It will be one of the last times you play organized sports in your life unless you’re a student-athlete in college. And lastly, don’t procrastinate on your college admissions essay. The sooner you apply and get accepted, the faster you can apply for scholarships.  

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