how to write an essay
Writing a college application essay is something many student dread. With these tips, you'll know how to write an impactful piece. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

When it comes to applying for college, many students are faced with the same question, “How to write an essay for your college application?” 

The essay can be daunting, but it can determine whether you get into your preferred uni. 

In fact, your college essays account for 25% of your overall application to get into schools like Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and more. 

The competition gets more intense at these schools, where applicants have exceptional grades, test scores and extracurricular experience. 

As such, nailing your college application essay can help you stand out from other applicants. 

It is an excellent opportunity to share your story and why you would make a good addition to the university. Admission officers are looking to understand your background, personality and values.

While this adds a lot of pressure on your college essay, there is no need to worry just yet. Here are five tips on how to write an essay that will help you stand apart from other applicants:

How to write an essay to nail your college application:

Grab the reader from the start 

Grab a reader’s attention from the start —remember that you are competing with hundreds of other applicants.

Let’s start with the thesis statement: the backbone of your essay and the first sentence a reader will read.

Start your essay with a clear sentence that immediately seizes the reader’s imagination.

You could start with a bold statement, a quote, a question or even a descriptive scene.

Beginning with a powerful and clear thesis statement will ensure your reader is hooked and help you with the writing process.

Try something different 

Admissions officers read an unbelievable number of college essays.

Many students would write essays with facts, figures and their past experiences — so try something different by writing an essay that your grades can’t capture.

After all, colleges are interested in learning about who you are as a person and what you can bring to the incoming class.

It doesn’t matter if you have yet started your own business or spent the summer volunteering.

Share your unique qualities or what you learned from your losses and how it inspired your educational journey.

how to write an essay

Bring your essay to life using details, examples and vivid imagery. Source: David Becker/AFP

Show, don’t tell

Instead of simply stating facts and information, try to get your reader to visualise what you are trying to say.

Writing the sequence of events can be dull, so bring your story to life by showing the reader what you mean.

Take “I like to play football”, for example.

You could say:

“My heart was beating fast as I ran across the court to make the shot — two seconds on the clock, one second — and score!”

The results? Your essay will be more memorable, clear and enjoyable for your reader.

Write drafts

It’s easy to procrastinate.

When it comes to writing your college essay, however, it is best to start early to give yourself enough time to perfect it.

Before you start, coming up with a topic will take up a fair share of brainstorming.

By starting early, you will have time to write several drafts and make edits before you reach your final copy.
Drafting allows you to put your ideas on paper to rethink and rewrite them.

With this, you can ask yourself whether your ideas are relevant and logical or if additional information is required.

Proofread your essay

So, you finished writing.

You might be tempted to submit your essay and not have to look at it again.

But taking a second look can help you nail your college essay more than you think.

Coming back to your work after a few hours or even a day — if you have the time — will allow you to spot any subtle mistakes you may not have noticed. 

However, you might miss out on some minor mistakes — even with a fresh set of eyes. 

Thankfully, many tools and resources are available online to help you with this. 

Currently, the best app on the market for this is Grammarly

The website uses artificial intelligence to review your spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. The app even provides suggestions to rephrase your sentences. 

All you have to do is upload your essay on the website, wait a few seconds, and the tool will run through any mistakes made.