college application prep

5 Steps to Make Your College Application Essay Stand Out

Aspiring college students: are you ready to tackle one of the most crucial parts of your college journey? That’s right, we’re talking about the infamous college application essay. Whether you’re just starting your college application process or already knee-deep in essay brainstorming, we’re here to lend you a helping hand. In this guide, we’ll be sharing five powerful steps to make your college application essay stand out from the rest of the pack. So, grab a cozy spot, take a deep breath, and get ready to embark on a writing adventure that will not only showcase your unique voice but also captivate those admission officers. Let’s dive in and uncover the secrets to crafting an essay that will make you shine brighter than ever before!

What Should I Write my College Essay About?

college application prep

Choosing a topic for your college essay can feel like an overwhelming task, but fear not! The possibilities are endless, and it’s all about finding a subject that truly represents you and allows you to share a meaningful story or experience. Look to your application for guidance on getting started. Each college has their own specific expectations and prompts to help you organize your essay. Of course, many of these prompts are quite open-ended. If you’re feeling stuck, try reflecting on a moment or experience that challenged you and how it shaped your character, values, or perspective on life. Admissions officers love to read about personal growth.

Your passions and interests may also be excellent fodder for a college application essay. Explore a topic or activity that ignites your curiosity and describe how it has influenced your personal or academic journey. Remember, the key is to choose a topic that allows you to showcase your authentic self, demonstrate your growth and resilience, and leave a lasting impression on the admissions officers. Once you find a topic that resonates with you, don’t be afraid to infuse it with your personality, emotions, and personal insights. 

Choosing a Compelling Essay Topic for your College Essay

Virtually any topic can make for a compelling college essay. If you really find yourself stuck wondering what should I write my college essay about, consider any obstacles you’ve overcome in your life. Share a story about overcoming adversity, whether it be a physical or emotional challenge, and discuss the valuable lessons you learned in the process. You may want to highlight a mentor who helped you along the way. Try writing about a role model who has had a profound impact on your life, describing how their guidance or support has shaped your goals and aspirations.

Cultural identity is another great topic for college essays. Think about the things that make you unique – delve into your cultural background, heritage, or an aspect of your upbringing that has played a significant role in shaping your identity. Writing on these topics can really help you stand out from the crowd.

Craft a Captivating Introduction to your College Essay

They say you only get one chance at a good first impression, and that’s especially true on college applications. Admissions officers read hundreds of college application essays each year, and without a captivating introductory paragraph, you may lose their interest before you’ve even gotten started. A great introduction is crucial for grabbing the reader’s attention and setting the tone for your entire college essay.

Try starting your essay with a captivating story or a vivid description that immediately immerses the reader into your narrative. This could be a personal experience, a significant moment, or an observation that relates to your essay’s central theme. Remember, the goal of your introduction is to captivate the reader’s attention and make them eager to continue reading. Experiment with different techniques, and don’t be afraid to revise and polish your introduction until it shines. 

Now let’s dive into some tips to keep in mind as you write.

1. Showcase Personal Growth and Reflection in your College Essay

Your college essay is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, self-awareness, and ability to learn from experiences. Admissions officers are not only interested in your achievements but also in your journey of personal development. Try writing about an experience that had a profound impact on your personal development. It could be a challenging situation, a failure, a transition, or a transformative event. The experience should provide ample material for reflection and growth.

2. Show, Don’t Tell in your College Essay

When researching how to write a college application essay, you may run into this popular advice. Showing, rather than telling, is a fundamental principle in effective storytelling and writing, including college essays. By employing vivid descriptions andconcrete details you can create a more engaging and immersive experience for the reader.

Appeal to the reader’s senses to make your experiences more tangible and alive. Incorporate descriptive language that helps the reader visualize and connect with your story on a deeper level. Rather than simply stating “I improved my leadership skills,” for instance, you might say “I stopped to listen to each team member and ask them about their opinions, so that everyone would feel involved in the decisions.” 

Don’t overthink this step – simply work in details to make your essay more immersive and easier to understand. Remember to balance this with concise storytelling, skipping over irrelevant details. This will ensure that your essay flows smoothly and remains focused on your main ideas and themes.

3. Include an Emotional Impact in your College Essay

Curious about how to make your college essay stand out? Try including an emotional impact in your college essay – it can help create a powerful and memorable experience for the reader. Don’t be afraid to share moments of vulnerability and honesty to create a genuine emotional connection with the reader. Discussing personal challenges, setbacks, or moments of self-doubt makes your essay more relatable.

4. Stand out with a Unique Narrative or Story

A unique narrative or story in your college essay can captivate the reader’s attention and make your application memorable. Instead of approaching a common topic from a conventional perspective, try to find a unique angle or lens through which to tell your story. Look for an unconventional approach, a fresh interpretation, or a surprising juxtaposition that will make your essay memorable. For example, you could start at the end of your story, explaining what you learned and then telling how you learned it. Remember, the goal is not to be different for the sake of being different, but rather to authentically convey your experiences and perspectives in a way that sets you apart. 

5. Finalize and Edit your College Essay

Editing your college essay is a crucial step in ensuring that your essay is polished, coherent, and effectively communicates your message. Start by revisiting the essay prompt or question to ensure that your essay directly addresses the prompt and stays focused on the main theme or idea. Check if you have fully answered any specific questions asked in the prompt.

Read your essay aloud or have someone else read it to identify any areas where the writing may be unclear or confusing. Pay attention to sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. Make sure your ideas are expressed in a clear and concise manner.

Share your essay with trusted individuals such as teachers, mentors, or family members. Ask for their feedback and suggestions for improvement. Consider their perspectives and revise your essay accordingly. However, remember to stay true to your own voice and vision for the essay.

Be sure to submit your essay before the application deadline. Give yourself enough time to review and edit your essay, allowing for unforeseen circumstances or the need for additional revisions.


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