Application Essays

Writing the College Essay

The college application essay is a great opportunity for you to bring your application to life for the Admission Committee. It's your chance to showcase your achievements, character and personality that aren't always apparent in the other pieces of your application. Your essay is a small window into your mind, what matters to you, what you are passionate about.  It gives the Admission Committee important subjective information to factor into their decision.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Relax. Writing is essentially just talk on paper.  Take some time to think about what you want to convey and how you wish to convey it.
  • Be sure you understand and answer the question. Read the instructions carefully before you begin.
  • Remember that correct grammar, punctuation and spelling count. Don't rely on spellcheck because it won't catch errors in context.  
  • The essay should be easily readable - appearance matters.
  • Don't just talk about the "what." Tell us the "how" and "why." For example, your essay about a leadership role you hold (the what) should also tell us about why you are involved in this activity and how it has affected you.
  • Although some students probably write well enough that they can submit their first draft, we don't recommend it. You need to leave time to rewrite and revise. That means it is best not to put off the essay until the night before your application is due.  
  • Big words and lots of them are not what impress us - it's writing from the heart about something that matters to you. 
  • Finally, do your own work. It's certainly okay (and encouraged) to ask people who know you well to read your essay and give you their comments and suggestions. You want them to tell you if the essay sounds like you and is in your authentic voice.