If you’re applying for college via the Common App, you’ll have to write an essay in response to one of seven prompts.
Here’s a brief overview of the Common App essay and seven examples of effective Common App essays, along with explanations of why they work.
Continue reading: Common App Essays | 7 Strong Examples with Commentary
One effective method for improving your college essay is to read example essays. Here are three sample essays, each with a bad and good version to help you improve your own essay.
For each essay, we’ve included annotations to help you understand common mistakes and specific techniques.
Continue reading: College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn’t
The college application process can be frantic. But even if you’re short on time, it’s still possible to write a great college admissions essay. Whether you have a week, a few days, or just a few hours until the deadline, follow these steps to get it done.
Continue reading: How to Write a College Essay Fast | Tips & Examples
A good diversity essay shows how you will add a unique perspective, identity, or experience to your prospective campus community. You should share stories that demonstrate how your lived experience has shaped your actions, worldview, and goals.
Continue reading: How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples
While admissions officers are interested in hearing about your experiences, they’re also interested in how you present them. An exceptionally written essay will stand out from the crowd, meaning that admissions officers will spend more time reading it.
To write a standout essay, you can use literary devices to pull the reader in and catch their attention. Literary devices often complement each other and can be woven together to craft an original, vivid, and creative personal essay. However, don’t overdo it; focus on using just a few devices well, rather than trying to use as many as possible.
This article gives an in-depth introduction to which literary devices are the most effective in college admissions essays. You can also check out our college essay examples for further inspiration.
Continue reading: How to Make Your College Essay Stand Out | Tips & Examples
A strong essay topic sets you up to write a unique, memorable college application essay. Your topic should be personal, original, and specific. Take time to brainstorm the right topic for you.
Some topics are easier to make work than others, but it’s possible to write an exceptional essay from a common topic.
Continue reading: Choosing Your College Essay Topic | Ideas & Examples
Most US college application deadlines for undergraduate programs are between late November and mid-March, and you should start thinking about applying for college the summer before junior year. Your application should typically include the following:
- Personal information, extracurriculars, and awards
- Standardized test scores
- Recommendation letters
In this comprehensive guide, we show you how to organize deadlines and stay on track throughout your college application process.
We’ve also created a free Google Sheets template that you can use to organize and track your college applications.
College application tracker
Continue reading: How to Apply for College | Timeline, Templates & Checklist
A good scholarship essay demonstrates the scholarship organization’s values while directly addressing the prompt. If you plan ahead, you can save time by writing one essay for multiple prompts with similar questions.
You should apply for a variety of scholarships that match your background, values, and interests. Local scholarships with small dollar amounts may be less competitive and more relevant than larger national ones. It’s easier to write an authentic essay if the scholarship topic is meaningful to you.
Continue reading: How to Write a Scholarship Essay | Template & Example
Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.
You should aim to stay under the specified limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, if you write too little, it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.
Continue reading: How Long Should a College Essay Be? | Word Count Tips
Revision and editing are essential to make your college essay the best it can be.
When you’ve finished your draft, first focus on big-picture issues like the overall narrative and clarity of your essay. Then, check your style and tone. You can do this for free with a paraphrasing tool. Finally, when you’re happy with your essay, polish up the details of grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget to check that it’s within the word count limit.
Remember to take a break after you finish writing and after each stage of revision. You should go through several rounds of revisions and ask for feedback on your drafts from a teacher, friend or family member, or professional essay coach. If you don’t have much time, focus on clarity and grammar by using a grammar checker.
You can also check out our college essay examples to get an idea of how to turn a weak essay into a strong one.
Continue reading: How to Revise Your College Admissions Essay | Examples