The college admission essay must be equal parts personality, creativity, and clarity, all the while putting your very best foot forward. With all that pressure, staring down a blank computer document can often feel like the most challenging part of the whole application process so far. After all, your essay responses are your best chance to let your personality show and communicate what’s important to you. But telling your story in a way that resonates with a college admissions officer can make even the most seasoned writer feel stuck or frozen.
But don’t worry, that’s absolutely natural. Not only that, but luckily, there are ways to get past that! We’ll go through some of our top tips on beating writer’s block and anything else that stands in your way. In this article, we’ll cover how to write a college admission essay, and what admissions counselors are looking for in a college admission essay, based on our years of experience!
1. Make a plan
One of the key things admissions counselors look for in a college admission essay is structure and cohesion. Your college admission essay needs to have a narrative form (i.e., beginning, middle, end) and flow easily. It’s okay if that doesn’t come from the first draft…or even several drafts. In fact, that’s exactly why making a plan can help you stay focused on what you’re trying to convey. Think about what traits make you unique and how your experiences tie into that as part of the planning process.
Try to look at it from an outsider’s perspective and plan out the structure of your essay. It makes getting started on the college admission essay easier, and you’ll be able to amend and edit as you work on essay prompts with the end goal in sight.
2. Write what you know, not what you think someone wants to hear
Being safe and generic in the essay won’t improve your chances, so don’t be afraid to write your truth. In fact, application readers read hundreds of applications, so you need to stand out and be memorable. College admission counselors are looking at your essay to understand who you truly are and how you’ll contribute to their school.
What does that mean for your writing process? Don’t water yourself down or try to diminish yourself in this part. Think about your life and what you’ve accomplished.Ask yourself, how did you get to this point? What is something unique about you that no one else could possibly write about? What makes you, you? The key is to write about what you’ve felt and gone through, rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach that you think someone wants to read about.
If you’re not sure how to start a college admission essay or what you’d want to write about, Empowerly can help! Our College Admissions Counseling & Application Counseling help you throughout every step of your college journey, including essay editing, with a fast turnaround to give you the best possible chances for success.
3. Think about how you can demonstrate drive, resilience, intellectual curiosity, and other vital traits
There are certain personality traits that college admissions counselors are looking for in admits that can help guide your writing process. These aren’t necessarily standard for every application, but it’s one way to approach essay prompts. If you’re unsure how to start a college admission essay, think of these traits as your North Star.
For instance, sometimes writing on a blank page can be difficult. Instead, just writing about your experiences with leading a group, or pursuing a question outside of class, can make it a little easier to develop a plan and flow for your essay. You can also look at college admission essay examples to understand how other people have approached similar essay prompts.
This isn’t about molding yourself into a box and trying to be like everyone else, but more about showing admissions counselors how these traits present themselves in you. You can also use tools like the Empowerly Score by taking the Empowerly Quiz to identify strengths whichyou can incorporate into the essay.
4. Have a few people read over your essay
Once you have a draft ready, have other people read it to give you input! However, there needs to be a balance in how many people give you feedback – remember, too many cooks in the kitchen can often spoil the broth, so keep it limited to a few people.
Why? Having 2-3 people read your essay gives you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t without getting too confusing. Instead, opt for a range of people, such as a trusted teacher, parent, and someone slightly older than you, such as cousins or friends. That will give you a range of perspectives that can help you improve your essay. Not only that, but you can be more selective about who you ask, and ensure the feedback you get is actually helpful.
If you’re seeking expert advice on how to start a college admission essay and create a strong college application overall, get in touch today for a free consultation with Empowerly Enrollment Specialists. We provide a wide range of services to help make the college application process easy to navigate to help students reach their goals, including partnerships with local communities, businesses, and schools to help demystify the college applications process.