How to Write a College Admission Essay

Essays will always be a part of our life, and that holds true even as we apply for universities. In that case, the essay comes in the form of the college admission essay. While it is tempting to treat the college admission essay as just a regular essay, we might end up writing one that will bar us entry to the university of our dreams. Thus, it is important to know how to write a college admission essay.

What is a college admission essay?

A college admission essay, sometimes called a college application essay or simply college essay, is an essay that is often required from applicants that are looking to enroll in universities. This is often the case with the Ivy League universities, where every factor counts, including how well-written the college admission essay is. Thus, it is important to have sharp essay writing skills in order to have an effective, successful college admission essay.

A college admission essay is written based on the provided prompt, which holds instructions on what the college essay should write about. Sometimes, it dictates the college admission essay format, requiring particularities such as line spacing or specific font properties. Otherwise, the college admission essay can be considered as just another essay in the end.

Why is the college admission essay important?

A college admission essay is not just any regular essay—it is the essay that will get you into a university. It is possible to write a college essay like how you would an essay assignment in high school. However, do not expect it to get you into a college so easily.

To warm you up, here are a few major reasons on why the college admission essay is important:

  • It is part of the college admission process. As mentioned previously, writing a college essay is usually a part of applying for a university. With all factors considered, the quality of your college application essay can make or break your application.
  • It is a test of your essay writing skills. How good are you in writing? And how good are you in writing an essay about the given topic? Your college admission essay is a reflection of your capabilities.
  • It is a test of your characteristics. Your college essay does not only reflect your skills—it reflects you. You are the college essay, so if it does not meet the standards of the university, neither do you.

With that said, you should be clear on why taking the college admission essay seriously is important. Let us now proceed with how to write a college admission essay. Here are the steps of writing a college application essay.

1. Read the essay prompt carefully.

First of all, it is vital to know what the essay prompt says. Writing your college essay starts with knowing what the topic is and what the college essay format is. Without doing this, no matter how good your college application essay, if it does not comply with the required college admission essay format, it will not do you much good.

In particular, look for these certain elements:

  • Topic - Sometimes, a clear topic is given. Other times, they will give a question. In any case, you need to know how to choose a topic for your college essay.
  • Format - Some universities may or may not require a particular college admission essay format—though, clearly you should always use a respectable college essay format.
  • Other particular instructions - Need to state your name? Is there a word count? Whatever other details there are, keep them in mind.

Do not ever skip this step. They are a test of not only your essay writing skills through your college admission essay; they are also a test of how you follow instructions.

2. Brainstorm!

Once you know what you have to write in the college admission essay, it is time to come up with ideas for it. In this case, you have to come up with a list of college essay topics. A lot of these would be restricted by the instructions relayed in the essay prompt; otherwise, you can somewhat go crazy with your choice of college essay topics.

Consider these following factors when you think of what college essay topics to choose in writing your work:

  1. It should sell you. Your college essay is basically saying “Hey, hire me because of these reasons.”
  2. It talks about your past experiences. You can use past events in your life to substantiate your college essay.
  3. It shows your life philosophy. Your college application essay can be used to showcase what values you have.
  4. It is unique. A college essay that stands out is a great college essay.

Want to learn more about how to choose the perfect college essay topics for your piece? Read our guide on how to choose a topic for your college essay.

3. Outline your college admission essay.

When you have put ideas together for your college essay, it is time to make an essay outline. Since a college admission essay is an essay in essence, you can outline it the way you would a regular essay. It is best to refresh yourself on how to make an essay outline for best results. You will have a stronger college admission if it is built from the ground up, and this is best done by making an essay outline. Need a guide to refresh you? Click here to learn how to outline your essay.

4. Start writing.

The big moment: writing the actual college admission essay. There is a principle that you should keep in mind: “write in white heat, revise in cold blood.” To help you understand, we will break down this statement into two.

  • “Write in white heat” means to write your ideas together without worrying too much about how well it is written, whether or not your ideas are strong, and other particularities. Just write your college as your heart desires.
  • “Revise in cold blood” is when you revise with your mind in focus. Are there any ideas that are not very strong? Or grammatical problems across your college admission essay? Correct them without holding back—in cold blood.

In this case, you will “write in white heat.” Do not hold back! Keep your ideas flowing and write them as they come into your head.

As mentioned earlier, writing a college admission essay can be like writing any other essay. Hence, having a refresher on how to write essays can be helpful, too. Here is our guide on how to write an essay.

5. Evaluate and edit the first draft based on the prompt.

Sometimes, we let go of ourselves for a bit as we immerse ourselves so much in writing a college admission essay. This can border on forgetting the instructions given by the essay prompt overall, which can be dangerous! Do not let an excellent college essay go to waste for not following instructions—read your first draft beside your essay prompt and see if what you have written on your college application so far answers the questions and stays on topic.

This is the part where you “revise in cold blood”:

  • Does your college application essay answer the essay prompt properly and sufficiently? Great! You can move to the next step. 
  • Does your college essay lack some things? Add them in and repeat this step. 
  • Does your college essay include some ideas that do not make sense or are weak? Delete them, even if it means erasing entire paragraphs. 
  • Does your college admission essay miss the topic entirely? Start over.

6. Proofread the final draft.

Once you are sure that your college admission essay covered what was asked, it is time to proofread. This part is a bit more lax than the last one; it only involves the form of your college application essay—namely, any errors in grammar, vocabulary, or spelling, and any weak sentence construction and wordplay. Read through each line carefully and see if it can be improved on.

Now, steps five and six are not very in-depth and only gives the bare bones on editing and proofreading your college essay. If you want a more comprehensive guide, we have a guide for you on how to proofread and edit your essay.

7. Submit!

After much blood, toil, sweat, and tears, and going through each of the previous steps carefully, your college admission essay should be ripe for submission! Take a deep sigh of relief, package the college application essay as instructed, submit, and hope for the best.

Final note

We hope that the college essay tips and steps above will help you in how to write a college admission essay. At this point, we would like to let you know that no matter the result, you have done well in your college application. If you get in, fantastic! If you did not, it is okay. Take whatever the outcome is as a lesson of how you can improve in your future applications and in writing a college admission essay.

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