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How To Write a College Essay | Best Sample

If you graduate high school with a high GPA, you may have to write college essays while seeking admission to your preferred school. Many high school graduates fear writing time. This article on how to write a college essay is a basic guide and everything you need to write an amazing college essay.

how to write college essay

In the admissions process, US colleges and universities generally always want applicants to write a well-composed essay while seeking admission to their preferred school. 

However, there are three criteria in which Universities generally use to determining which students to accept and which to reject.

Previous coursework (GPA), Standardized test scores (SAT and ACT), and Admission/Entrance essays.

Tip!
You may need to calculate your school GPA using the 4.0 GPA calculator

With all assurance, this article will guide you perfectly on how to write a great college essay without stress. And stand the chance to gain admission into your desired school at ease.

What is a College Essay?

According to Wikipedia, College essay, sometimes also called the statement of purpose is an essay written by an applicant, often for the purpose of being offered admission.

This is a way of testing applicants’ capabilities in writing and also to use of words.

Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?

There are a couple of reasons that colleges ask applicants to submit an essay, but the basic idea is that it gives them more information about you, especially who you are beyond grades and test scores.

The most important role of the essay is to give admissions committees a sense of your personality and what kind of addition you’d be to their school’s community.

Are you inquisitive? Ambitious? Caring? These kinds of qualities will have a profound impact on your college experience, but they’re hard to determine based on a high school transcript.

A secondary purpose of the essay is to serve as a writing sample and help colleges see that you have the skills needed to succeed in college classes.

The personal statement is your best chance to show off your writing, so take the time to craft a piece you’re really proud of.

For some students, the essay is also a chance to explain the factors affecting their high school records. Did your grades drop sophomore year because you were dealing with a family emergency?

Did you miss out on extracurriculars in the junior year because of an extended medical absence? 

Colleges want to know if you struggled with a serious issue that affected your high school record, so make sure to indicate any relevant circumstances on your application.

Many colleges ask you to write an essay or paragraph about why you’re applying to their school specifically.

In asking these questions, admissions officers are trying to determine if you’re genuinely excited about the school and whether you’re likely to attend if accepted.

How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The exact word limit for the Common App essay has varied somewhat over the years, but the current range is 250-650 words. You must stay within this length; in fact, the online application won’t allow you to submit fewer than 250 words or more than 650.

“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.

The word count is much shorter for institution-specific supplemental essays.

What Should be in a College Essay?

The essence of writing a college admission essay is to create a room for you to tell the admission committee about yourself.

So, what should be in a college essay is “you”. In fact, everything interesting, captivating, and alluring about you should be in your college essay.

In simple terms, you should include the following in your college essay:

  • Write an interesting essay about yourself
  • Write about your High school exploits that portray you as a serious and committed student.
  • Answer all questions asked by the school

College Essays Sample Questions

Getting how to write a college essay, you should be conversant with the fact that college application essays are simply you telling your own experience while consciously answering some questions.

Basically, questions differ from college so, don’t submit the same essay for different colleges. Below are popular questions colleges seek answers to while reading your college essay:

  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. The topic of your choice. …
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice.
  • Why do you want to attend this school?

Tips for College Admissions Essays about Yourself

Remember you are the focus of your college admission essay. You should be writing about yourself and your intriguing experience.

To write an amazing piece without drifting from you, follow the guideline below, it the best practice on how to write a college essay:

  • Choose a topic that is quite important to you; it could be anything that has made a great impact on your life.
  • Create a story your reader can relate to: One of the best writing skills is descriptive writing skill. You should not only recount your experience, but you should also reflect it. Let your reader have imagination in response to descriptions.
  • Keep it real: This means you should show some level of commitment to what you are writing. However, if you can make your readers giggle, you can hold them to read to the last. In a nutshell, you are not writing a comedy piece either are you writing a tragedy, just be real.
  • Start Early: This will help you not mumble words on a piece of paper in twenty minutes to submit on time. It is okay to write and re-write your essay until you get an amazing piece to submit.
  • Answer all Questions: Avoid writing one essay for different colleges with just little changes made to the name probably. Each easy must answer specific questions from the school to be relevant.
  • Read and Edit your work: You don’t want to submit a college personal statement that portrays you as a lazy writer. Do read your work a number of times and make corrections, re-phrase sentences, and come up with your best expressions. Also, get a friend or two to re-edit your piece before submission.

Simple steps on How to Write a College Admission Essay

Although not every school in the US requires you to write a college admission essay as part of their application, the Common Application has traditionally required you to submit a blanket personal statement. 

That policy changed recently, and the essay is now optional for some schools. Below are steps on how to write a college essay, I would explain all steps.

  • Analyze the essay prompt
  • Create a thesis statement
  • Make an outline
  • Begin with the body, not the introduction
  • Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence
  • Use credible sources
  • Don’t fake it
  • Conclude your essay
  • Proofread, then proofread again

1. Analyze the essay prompt

The most important step in writing an essay or research paper is to fully comprehend the essay question. 

An essay can be wonderfully articulated and thought out, but will still result in a poor grade if it doesn’t adequately answer the prompt provided. Break the prompt down into two parts.

  • What is the essay topic?
  • What research do I need to do to fully understand the topic?
  • How long does the essay need to be?
  • Is the prompt asking for my opinion, the opinion of credible scholarly sources, or facts?
  • How can I relate this essay topic to what we have covered in a class?

Once these questions have been answered, you can begin constructing your essay.

2. Create a thesis statement

Start your essay with a thesis statement that will guide your entire paper. Based on the prompt, what do you want to argue in your essay? Your thesis statement should be concise, but incorporate all the main points you’d like to address in your paper.

Continually refer to your thesis statement when writing your essay and make sure to never stray from your main points. A good thesis statement can be the difference between an A and a B.

3. Make an outline

Use an outline to plan out your essay/research paper before writing it. Working from your thesis statement, plot out how you want your paper to flow and what information you want to include. This will make writing the full draft of your paper much ease.

4. Begin with the body, not the introduction

Don’t start with the introduction. The introduction is where some students struggle the most, so to avoid getting bogged down, create the introduction later. 

This will allow you to fully form your thoughts and ideas and come back and integrate the main ideas into your introduction.

5. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence, which expresses the main idea of the paragraph. Each paragraph should contain quotes or contextual information to defend your topic sentence and thesis statement.

6. Use credible sources

Quotes and contextual information are important for establishing credibility and supporting your argument, so make sure that the quotes and information are coming from credible scholarly sources. 

Examples of scholarly sources include academic journals, peer-reviewed articles, textbooks, books by accredited authors, and NPR articles.

7. Don’t fake it

Teachers aren’t dumb. They know when you don’t fully understand the essay topic and when you’re rambling to make it longer. Don’t use fluff to bulk up your essay. Instead, make sure that every sentence adds substance to your work.

If it isn’t absolutely necessary, cut it out. Most teachers would rather have a well-written essay that doesn’t quite meet the length requirement than a paper that meets the requirement but is 80 percent fluff.

8. Conclude your essay

Your conclusion should always begin by restating your thesis statement. This is your chance to tie all of your main points together and go out with a bang.

 A good conclusion will address the main arguments of each body paragraph in a succinct way and thoroughly prove your thesis statement.

9. Proofread, then proofread again

Reviewing is critical to composing a great essay. Some teachers won’t even finish reading essays if they’re not grammatically sound or riddled with spelling errors.

Therefore, here are a few ways to make your essay/research paper more academically acceptable and better overall.

  • Take out all conjunctions (aren’t, don’t, couldn’t, etc.). This will make your paper longer and is more appropriate for academic writing.
  • Print out your paper, read it, and mark it up. Also, you will notice more errors when reading it this way than on a computer screen.
  • Have friends or parents read it. The second set of eyes can catch any mistakes you missed.
  • Read it out loud. This will help with grammar mistakes. If it sounds wrong, it probably is.
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