Cathy A.
Cathy A.

An Easy Guide to Write a College Application Essay

12 min read

Published on: Feb 14, 2019

Last updated on: Dec 21, 2022

writing a college application essay

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Essay writing is a difficult task for most students. Therefore, they experience the most stress while writing a college essay. However, this type of paper is essential for your higher education and is mandatory while applying for a college.

It is also considered as an opportunity to showcase your competence, talent, and expertise. However, some steps need to be taken to write such compelling essays. Similarly, a proper format and approach are required to grab the college admission officers’ attention.

On the other hand, it can ruin the chances of getting admission to your desired college if it’s written incorrectly. Read this blog to master the art of how to write a good college application essay.

What is a College Application Essay?

A college application essay is also known as a personal statement or a statement of purpose. It is usually written by a student applying to a college or a graduate school.

Such essays are an important part of the college admission process. It helps the admission committees to know about the applicant’s background, interests, and expertise.

The purpose of writing such college essays is to determine a student’s ability to support ideas with logical reasoning. Furthermore, it is also used to check sentence structure and grammatical skills.

There are cases when the college does not give the topics. For this, choose an event of your life, and explain it with in-depth details. Similarly, it is also better to focus on a single story that will project your interest or talent to the reader.

These types of college essays that worked are a little different from a typical essay. Keep in mind the following questions to understand the nature of application essays.

  • How will your essay convey the background, and what makes it unique?
  • If given a chance to present a true story, what will you share?
  • Does the information sound authentic or forged?
  • Why should this application be entertained in comparison to others?

How Long Should a College Application Essay be?

There is no specific word limit to write a college application essay. However, a typical length varies from 250 to 650 words. On the other hand, a broad college application essay topic can also exceed this word count.

Types of College Application Essays

Below-given are the three types of college application essays.

The ‘You’ Essay

It requires you to write an essay about yourself. Here, the admission officers want to know about the student’s personality. Similarly, it is a type of personal statement as it reveals interesting facts about students.

The ‘Why Us’ Essay

The college asks students to write such essays to know about their goals and commitments to the institute. Similarly, it also tells them why a particular applicant wants to join the college.

However, be careful while addressing the reasons. It is better to conduct thorough research on the subject and the high school beforehand.

The ‘Creative Essay’

A creative essay helps to evaluate a student’s ability to write and think creatively. Similarly, it provides them with a chance to share their viewpoints on a topic by adding creativity.

Here, a student will be graded based on his education, knowledge, and ability to present the case creatively.

College Application Essay Format

college application essay format usually follows the below pattern.

Margins: Use a 1-inch margin on all sides.

Line Spacing: Use 1.5 or double line spacing.

Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph.

Fonts: Use a standard font like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in 12-pt size.

Alignment: Use “left align.”

Citation style: MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard.

Every college has its requirements for formatting an essay. Some may also ask to include page numbers with a college application essay heading on each page. However, never include your name until you are requested to do so.

Refer to the document for a better understanding of the format for a college application essay.

How to Start a College Application Essay?

A good starting is key to making your college application essay stand out. Thus, it is essential to pay special attention to this section.

Here are some easy tips to start a college application essay correctly.

1. The Full HemingtonWay

Start your essay with an image-based description that focuses on specific moments. It will help to clarify the dialogues, actions, or supporting details.

2. The Mini Hemingway

It also includes an image-based description of 1-3 sentences. It is used to explain, comment, or provide a context of the described event.

3. The Twist

It requires the author to begin an essay with important information or a surprising fact.

4. The Philosophical Question

You can also start by asking a question. It will give you a chance to hook the reader by exploring possible answers or solutions.

5. The Confession

Here, a writer begins an essay by admitting the fact that he might be judged.

6. The Trailer Thesis

It comprises 1-2 sentences that give an idea of the main arguments included in the essay. Moreover, it usually comes at the end of the first paragraph.

7. The Fascinating Concept

You can also start with an unusual concept. Then, it follows up with a description that explains where the idea comes from and why the author considers it.

8. The Random Personal Fun Fact

A writer can also start by stating a strange fact about himself.

9. The Shocking Image

You can also start by mentioning a shocking image and write a few sentences to discuss its importance.

How to Write a College Application Essay?

Follow the steps given below to write an exceptional college application essay.

1. College Application Essay Prompts

The first and foremost step is to read the instructions and understand the essay prompts. It may suggest two or more topic ideas that may be impersonal but are aimed at testing you.

Consider the following elements to comprehend the college application essay ideas.

  • What does the prompt seek? Is it directed to inform? Expand? Support? Defend?
  • Relate the prompt to yourself and analyze how it can apply to you.

In case colleges do not assign an essay topic, try to find one you are passionate about. Also, think about memorable incidents, struggles, achievements, or failures that have affected your life.

2. Brainstorm Ideas

Once you’re done with the prompt, brainstorm ideas to write the best college essays. The purpose is to collect all the information and align it with your college admissions essays. Make sure that you do this before starting the writing process.

Here are the fundamental ingredients of the brainstorming process:

  • Reflect on your life. You will find plenty of events to discuss in the college admission essay.
  • How would someone describe me? What are my weaknesses and strengths? What makes me stand out among others?
  • Write down all the ideas that will engage the readers.
  • Narrow down your options. Pick the most appropriate concept, and according to the essay prompt.
  • Incorporate enough details to showcase your abilities, extracurricular activities, test scores, achievements, and beliefs.

3. College Application Essay Outline

The next important step is to create an outline that divides the essay into different sections. A basic outline structure includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

The following is a detailed description of each section.

  • College Application Essay Introduction

    The introduction paragraph should start with a hook to engage the readers. It may include a controversial statement, a thought-provoking question, or a confession.

    Try to write in a style that reflects your personality. Tell something about yourself. You can also challenge the reader by addressing them directly.

    Furthermore, relate the topic or narrative to the subject knowledge. It will show your ability to use the gained knowledge for adding value to society.

    Also, add a brief description of your academic skills and relate them to the course you are applying to. However, make sure to keep this section narrow and focused.

  • College Application Essay Body Paragraphs

    The body paragraphs should also provide detailed explanations and college essay examples to show your ideas. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that identifies what the section is about.

    Be concise and use vivid images. As you aim to meet a limited word count thus, make the most of it. Also, avoid using cliches and words like ‘I’ and ‘me’ too much. Instead, use simple language to convey the message.

    Moreover, you should also focus on adding a creative perspective.

  • College Application Essay Conclusion

    The conclusion of the common app essay will remain with the reader. Thus, try to begin and end the conclusion naturally.

    Restate your thesis statement, and relate your closing statement to the opening one. Moreover, review the introduction to follow and use the same tone and theme in your conclusion.

    Don't end your essay with a summarizing statement. Instead, discuss what you have learned from your experiences. Similarly, avoid adding stock phrases and quotations as they demonstrate a lack of creativity.

    However, end your conclusion on a positive note. Do not forget to tell how your admission can contribute to the college and the community. Lastly, leave your readers with an open-ended question or a final thought to ponder.

    Have a look at the below-given outline template to get a detailed idea of writing one.

4. Writing the College Application Essay

After deciding on an outline structure and format, start writing the essay. Try to keep the college common application essay narrow and focus on reaching the word count.

Start with the main idea and follow it from the beginning to the end. Never copy from any other source. Instead, state an original story and bring something new and unique.

Also, include all the supporting details required to back up the main arguments. You can also use humor if appropriate.

Edit and proofread your rough draft and eliminate all grammatical errors. This is how you will be able to produce a flawless essay for getting into your desired college.

How to End a College Application Essay?

End your college application essay by identifying whether you have included all the elements in your essay. Here is a checklist for you to access your application by asking yourself the following questions.

  • Have you provided original content and personal experiences in your essay?
  • Does your essay meet all the instructions specified by the college you are applying to?
  • Does it address the college essay prompts effectively?
  • Does it mention your academic grades and accomplishments?
  • Does it meet the required word count?
  • Are there enough details to support the main ideas?
  • Does it follow the correct college essay format template?
  • Does it mention your goals and commitments to the college?
  • Does it include the reasons why you are the perfect choice among others to get admission?
  • Does it demonstrate your enthusiasm for attending your desired college?
  • Does it include any references or recommendation letters from your teachers?
  • Have you proofread your essay for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes?
  • Have you used the correct outline and sentence structure?

Keeping in mind these elements will help to end a successful college application essay.

College Application Essay Examples

Check out the given college application process samples to write a perfect essay.

Refer to our good college application essay examples in case you need more samples.

College Application Essay Topics

Have a quick look at the following topics for your college application essay.

  • Sports you cherish
  • Clubs you belonged to
  • Community services you performed
  • Remarkable achievements
  • Memorable experience
  • Distinguished abilities (survival in the wild, fluency in languages, and culinary efficiency)
  • Why do you want to take admission to your desired college?
  • Describe a person you admire
  • Describe a book your love
  • A meaningful extracurricular activity
  • A failure that affects your personality
  • The biggest life goal
  • An embarrassing moment
  • A quote that describes you
  • Describe something you are passionate about
  • The best advice your grandmother gave you
  • A memorable meal you had
  • The historical background that sets you apart
  • A tattoo that defines you
  • A commitment you made with your parents

College Application Essay Tips

Here are some college application essay tips for writing a perfect essay.

  • Be an interesting version of yourself. Tell a story that feels personal and meaningful to you.
  • Take enough time to put your ideas into the right words. Then, sequence the points logically by using an outline.
  • The essay should be relevant and focused on making an impression on the admission officers.
  • Write a killer opening sentence.
  • Make sure your writing piece addresses the essay prompt.
  • Ensure to answer the college application essay questions that you have been asked.
  • Create a compelling setup to distinguish your application from other applicants.
  • Never exceed the instructed word count.
  • Do not copy or paste from other sources and share your knowledge of the college and subject.
  • Admission officers are not interested in a list of accomplishments. Instead, they are seeking a personal narrative that carries the details.
  • Write in a language that feels natural. Do not use poetic and comedian styles.
  • Leave your reader with food for thought to think about.
  • A strong conclusion should tie up your essay that shows you are ready for college.

Get help from our compiled list of college application essay prompts to get more interesting ideas.

Get Help from an Expert College Essay Writer

Writing a college application essay requires proper planning and consideration. We understand that it can be daunting as your entire career and future depend on it. Similarly, it also requires you to showcase yourself as the most deserving candidate to get admission.

Therefore, most students end up contacting a professional writing company to get done with this task. If you need a reliable college admission essay writing service, is the right place for you. Get help from our professional writer to create an error-free essay in no time.

Moreover, you will also be able to interact with our college admission essay writer to track your work progress. Check out the common app essay examples and customer reviews on our website before choosing us. We assure you to provide quality supplemental essays, scholarship essays, and personal statements. 

Place your order with our essay writing service and get the best college application essay help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use ‘I’ in a college application essay?

It is important to make ‘I’ statements in your college application essays. Colleges expect you to sound like yourself, so always be true to yourself when writing for the college boards.

Can you say ‘We’ in an essay?

We all know that 1st person plural is not a good idea in essays. To keep the reader engaged, you should be impersonal and avoid using ‘we’ or ‘us.’

Is it OK to talk about depression in a college essay?

Don't do it! There is no need to make your main essay all about these topics. Other ways may work better than writing, specifically on depression.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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