How to Write the Perfect College Essay

When application time rolls around, college admissions officers have a huge, daunting task ahead of them. They must sift through thousands and thousands of sheets of paper to try and spot the small percentage of students that meet their personal, subjective set of qualifications. Here are several tips on how to ensure that you’ll be selected into that group.

1. Be original so you can stand out.

Before selecting the subject on which to write your paper, ask yourself these questions: What is the craziest, most intense, or most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me? What did I learn from it? Why am I different than everyone in my high school class? What do people not understand about me?

Answer these questions and use your best, most creative answer as a foundation for your essay. Such an essay is bound to impress application officers much more than a simple description of your championship basketball game, that one time you helped an old woman cross the street, or the day you hit the high note during your jazz choir performance. The reality is: they’ve read those papers hundreds and thousands of times before!

2. Be Specific – Really Specific!

Try to avoid being generic at all costs. Using general phrases like “I was nervous” or “my brother supported me” can quickly bring down the quality of an essay. Instead, ask yourself: without using the word ‘nervous,’ how did you actually, physically feel? Or, instead of generalizing, provide a specific example of when and how your brother supported you. Such specifications will add personality to your essay and allow it to stand out.

3. Use your own personal voice.

The whole purpose of writing an application essay is to prove to the school that you would add something to their student body. Colleges want students with original ideas, a sense of humor, and the type of personality that will set them apart in the future. Let this come through in your essay. If you’re a sarcastic person, use sarcasm in your essay. Poke fun at yourself! Make admissions officers laugh! Even though college applications are a highly structured, formal process, don’t worry about being overly formal in your essay. This is your single chance to add personal flair to your application package, so sell yourself.

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