How to Write Your Best College Essay

By Maria Gentile

Having a well-written and engaging essay as part of your college or university application is important for all applicants. Colleges and universities, such as Dominican University of California, review essays to get a better understanding of the student and how they may thrive in their particular educational institution. When writing your college essay, be sure to follow these tips and guidelines.

Stand Out From The Crowd

The college essay is an opportunity for the college or university to get to know you, so be yourself! Use this opportunity to highlight what makes you unique, showing your interests and values. 

Answer The Prompt

Be sure to read the prompt(s) for the college essay(s). If you have a choice of prompts, create an outline or draft for a few to narrow it down. One will stand out, and the others may be repurposed for other essays or scholarship opportunities. 

What is Your Story? End With a Strong Conclusion

If you write about something you had to overcome or a challenge you faced, how did it make you stronger as a person and/or prepare you for college? It’s important that you don’t skip the conclusion on prompts like these.The conclusion is where you sum up the lessons learned or the impact your experiences had on you. It’s often what the reader will remember most about your essay. 

Check Spelling And Grammar

Using spell check is key, but also scan your essay for words that dilute the power of your writing, such as the words “that.” After you complete your draft, highlight every time you use the word “that” and then check how naturally the sentence reads without it. You can typically omit “that” if it follows a verb that means “to say.” Other words to lookout for include: "great," "good," "many" and "more."

Get it Reviewed

Ask a teacher, mentor or college counselor to read and review your essay. Be sure to incorporate their feedback. 

Respect The Word Count

Be aware of word count requirements. If you only have a couple hundred words per essay, choose them carefully and keep the “fluff” to a minimum. If the essay is longer, you have more freedom to set the scene and provide background information.  

I hope this advice on how to write a college essay that will leave an impression on your dream college is helpful to you in your college admissions journey. Best of luck! 

Admissions And Aid

 

Maria Gentile is the Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Dominican University of California. 
 

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