How to Write a Winning College Essay

How to Write a Winning College Essay
  • Opening Intro -

    You're a high school senior and have narrowed your college choices to three or four schools that you would consider attending if accepted.

    Your campus visits are behind you and now you're ready to handle the most important task: submitting your application.


Essay writing and your college application.

An application alone can be daunting, but the accompanying college essay can be downright scary. Think, “essay” and you might believe that the college will want a 10-page report, when all it is requiring are no more than three typewritten pages, double spaced. Read on and we’ll take a look at the requirements for writing a winning college essay.

Winning College Essay

Know the Requirements. Your prospective college may very well have some guidelines online to explain what the school expects in a college essay. Find these guidelines and follow them carefully. If you’re lucky, you’ll find sample essays online such as Connecticut College’s Essays That Worked, with a half-dozen examples for your review.

Common Application. Avoid the lengthy term papers and stick with an essay that falls within the word count parameter. If you submit an essay with the Common Application, used by more than 400 colleges and universities, know that there is a 500-word limit for you to follow. That comes to about two double-spaced typed pages.

Avoid Bad Topics. Most colleges and universities provide much room for students to choose an essay topic that is of interest to them. But, not every topic is helpful and some are downright harmful. For instance, Guide Allen Grove advises, “a bad essay topic can have disastrous results…” He named essays that discuss an applicant’s drug use, sex life, serves as a travel journal or is otherwise self-promotional should be avoided. Humor can be used, but don’t rely on it exclusively.

Plan Ahead. Not only do you want to write about a subject that you’re passionate about, but you want to make a compelling argument for your position. Still, you should avoid the overtly political or religious, even if these areas are of interest to you. Having an opinion is one thing, but dogmatism can be misinterpreted, perhaps costing you admission.

Final Thoughts

Write a solid college essay and then have someone else proofread it. Make your corrections and only submit a flawless copy that you can be proud of. A college essay alone may not make or break you, but in some cases it could be the deciding factor whether your receive a fat or thin letter from admissions next spring.


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Categories: Academics