How to Write a College Essay ?

College admission essays show off to your selectors what your scores can’t – your personality, and your writing skills.

Admission officers have to read thousands of college essays every year. The best way to impress them is to write a personalised essay through which you can highlight your uniqueness. Honesty and ingenuity is the only way to grab their attention.

We will discuss all the rest here, such as:

  • Proper Format for College Essays
  • Tips to Write a Successful College Essay
  • Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews

Proper Format for College Essays


  • Traditional academic essays begin with a main argument, support it with three pieces of evidence to support it, and wrap it up with a quick glance over what the essay is about. It is a good format to follow for short essays but not much suitable for longer personal statements.
  • For questions related to personal growth and development, you can use Compare-and-Contrast essay format. You can either write it point-for-point where your compare one aspect of your present with a related aspect in your past, or employ the ‘block’ method. In the latter, you mention all the points of your past in first half of the essay, and compare it with all the points in your present in the second half.

Proper Format for College Essays

  • Narrative structure is good for college admissions essays that focus on a single event in your life. Like a storyteller you can bring it to life with action, dialogue and subtle details. The chronological details of the story, and colorful descriptions of people, places and events within the story can transform such a piece into a powerful essay. Edit out any extra details that might distract the selectors from the point you want to convey.
  • Descriptive essays describe a place, person or thing step-by-step. In this kind of essays, the first paragraph introduces to the subject, the body paragraphs offer in-depth details about its two or three different aspects, while the last paragraph tells the reader what the subject says about the writer. It is a good format to follow when you are talking about your work or research experience that makes you suitable for the course you have applied to.

Tips to Write a Successful College Essay

  • Before you start your essay, brainstorm about the personality traits or strengths you want to highlight.
  • Come up with three positive adjectives that describe you, and think of an example to support each of these adjectives.
  • Write these down, and note about how you are going to use your strengths to build your future.
  • Find a creative angle. Most essays are similar. Being creative helps you to stand out from the crowd.

Tips to Write a Successful College Essay

  • Honest essays are appreciated. Don’t write what you think admission officers want to hear. Present yourself as you are. Don’t try to be somebody else.
  • You may ask your friends, family and teachers for their feedbacks on your essay but be sure that the essay is in your own voice.
  • Check your essay for any spelling or grammatical errors, or typing mistakes. Admission officers are very particular about the quality of the essays they accept.

Questions for an Admission Essay Outline


5 questions that can help you spin out great content for a college essay are:

  1. Do you have a background, talent, hobby, interest or identity that you may want to highlight in your college application?
  2. Have you ever experienced a failure or setback from which you have learned something?
  3. Was there an event or moment in your life which changed your belief, viewpoint or idea? What prompted it? Do you stick by the decision now?
  4. Is there a problem you’ve solved or would like to solve? It can be a research query, ethical dilemma, intellectual challenge, or a social problem that you feel for. Explain its significance to you, and then go on to define the steps you took or want to take to find its solution.
  5. Is there an event or accomplishment that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood – within your family, community or culture? Was it formal or informal?

Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews


Sample 1: The Palate of My Mind—Meghna

“…I want my school to resemble my favorite dish: the hummus-tabouli wrap.

…and Johns Hopkins University is the creamiest, tangiest, most flavorful hummus-tabouli wrap in existence.

The secret to any savory wrap lies in how its flavor is contained. Regardless of what outside influences are imposed upon it, the pita bread expertly holds all of its ingredients without allowing them to spill. Hopkins opposes outside pressures, unapologetically supporting individuals who are unafraid to break tradition.”

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Meghna compared John Hopkins with her favorite food. She goes on to effectively connect her academic and extracurricular interests with the opportunities Hopkins offers to its students.

Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews


“Pushed against the left wall in my room is a curious piece of furniture. Initially, it was a six foot tall and three foot wide red oak bookcase. Strangely, as the five shelves began to fill with books, the dimensions of the bookcase slowly evolved into a looking glass. Now, years later, my reflection is almost complete: each bookshelf cradles the stories of my life.

Shelf One is the base, and rightfully so. It contains my building blocks. Among the bright covers and large lettered titles lie countless fairy tales, fables, and legends…Shelves Two and Three sag with the weight of the dialogues that satiated my hunger. Everything ranging from the science fiction of A Wrinkle in Time to the ridiculous amusement of The Big Friendly Giant to the horrors of Columbine gathers in those shelves.”

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Neha effectively and creatively used her bookshelf as a metaphor of her life and showcase her learning beyond textbooks.

Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews


Sample 3: Dissonance—Leila

“…What my mom sees as a teenager wasting away behind a glowing screen is actually me trying to watch a documentary on Magritte and his genous style of surrealism while learning about the groundbreaking water geysers found on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Such investigative tendencies are even evident in my running list of ideas for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, with topics ranging from the cycle of recidivism that fosters the prison industrial complex to the removal of people of color from 17th and 18th century paintings in current academia.

I look to Johns Hopkins not to contain my brain, but to feed the insanity. I need the lack of a core curriculum and intersession courses so I can investigate a breadth of topics thoroughly…”

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Leila’s essay effectively shows that she loves a variety of topics and subjects. She has also shown how the open curriculum and interdisciplinary learning followed at John Hopkins is going to help her.

Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews


Sample 4: The Musketeer in Me—Vikas

“One fundamental rule of reincarnation is that you do not know your past life. Well, it seems as though I broke that rule. In fact, I am absolutely certain that my past reincarnation was none other than d’Artagnan, the fourth musketeer.

… Now, I am a first generation, 17-year-old American living in Jersey. My yellow, hairless horse is an old, squeaky Toyota Camry: its modern equivalent. My stunning silver-gilded rapier and armour have been replaced by a BIC pen and legal pad.

… Well, even if the shell of who I am has changed, I am still d’Artagnan at heart. That means being young, foolish, and audacious all at the same time…”

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Vikas uses humour to talk about himself. He cleverly compares himself to a fictional character who shares his personality traits and makes a strong impression about what his ambition is, how good he is as a friend, and how he handles challenges.

Top 5 Sample College Essays and their Reviews

Sample 5: Its Name was Ozzie—Agni

“Its name was Ozzie. Ozzie stood two feet tall, glistening, and scraping his feet against the ground with the bullish determination to work. We filled Ozzie up. He swooshed, growled, slurped, and gurgled. Just as Ozzie was about to reach the finish line, he collapsed in a panting mess.

My suggestion was to assemble a team of four undergraduate students at the university, who would work on repairing the Ostwald viscometer (Ozzie) in between classes. In the meanwhile, we would work on synthesizing fuel samples for the tests.

… We high-fived once we finished synthesizing the samples. We hugged the undergraduates when they had finished repairing Ozzie’s bulb.”

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Agni carefully draws in readers by talking about a scenario that seemed to be headed to catastrophe. It goes on to offer an interesting insight into how he and his research partners used determination and resourcefulness to overcome an obstacle and emerge as an effective leader.


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