Apart from waiting for an admission decision, writing your essays may be the most difficult hurdle in the college application process. Unfortunately, most colleges require an admission essay, and many require additional essays for their supplemental application. Consequently, we created a list of our top 10 tips to boost your essay writing efforts.

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Apart from waiting for an admission decision, writing your essays may be the most difficult hurdle in the college application process. Unfortunately, most colleges require an admission essay, and many require additional essays for their supplemental application(s). Consequently, we created a list of our top ten tips to boost your essay writing efforts because the importance of this task cannot be overstated. Admissions committees receive thousands of essays during a very small window of time. Your application will land in the circular file faster than you can say rejected if you don’t exert a significant effort here. While writing your essays, endure the agonizing crawl, don’t attempt to sprint, and make it count. Remember, good work looks good!

1. Write Sooner Rather Than Later

Start writing your essays in early August. The sooner the better. At first, don’t think about all of your essay requirements, especially if you are applying to several schools. Initially, focus on writing the essay with the earliest deadline. Then, complete each subsequent essay based on deadline requirements.

2. Record Questions in One Place

Once you know what schools you are applying to, determine the essay requirements for each of your applications. Then, record all of your essay questions in a notebook or spreadsheet. To accelerate your essay writing, notice similarities between questions, you may be able to reuse your ideas for several essays eliminating unnecessary work. Finally, when you complete an essay, record the completion date.

3. Beware of Time Consuming Supplemental Essays

Do not underestimate the amount of time it will take to write your supplemental application essays. Oftentimes, supplemental essays are as challenging and time-consuming as primary essays and become bottlenecks in the college application process. Make sure you allow a significant amount of time in your schedule to write your supplemental essays.

4. Choose Credible Essay Editors

Enlist the help of credible editors, such as your English teacher and School Counselor, to edit your essays. Remember, these folks are very busy. Give your editors ample time to read and critique your essays. In the spring, after you make your final decision, follow-up with a thank you note letting them know where you will be attending college in the fall.

5. Find Inspiration

Staring at a blank page is intimidating. To find inspiration, read college application essays online for ideas. Then, begin brainstorming to overcome procrastination. Write down your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. Don’t wait for the right moment or when you’ll have enough time. A little can go a long way toward getting those essays finished.

6. Answer the Question

Temptation may lead you to stray from the assigned topic. You’re applying to this college because you want to be admitted. As a result, you may experience the urge to write about your every accomplishment in a single essay. Instead, if the college requires several essays, strategize your writing by spreading your accomplishments across the required essays. This enables you to utilize all of the essays as a whole to paint an overall picture of your attributes for the admissions committee.

7. Be Yourself

Just be yourself. How many times have you heard this? It sounds so simple. But it’s not simple, because instinct may drive you to write what you think the admissions committees want. Consider the picture above with all the colors. You are a synthesis of your DNA and life experiences merging together creating who you are. Be that person by earnestly answering the essay questions.

8. Avoid Overused Clichés, Metaphors, and Similes

It bears repeating, avoid overused clichés, metaphors, and similes. Do your research before using any cliché, metaphor, or simile. Not sure what those are? Use this search tip, “overused clichés, metaphors, and similes”, to find them.

9. Obey the Word Limit, Be Concise

It is impossible to overstate the importance of adhering to essay requirements. Stay within the required word limit. Make your points effectively and efficiently using active verb tenses and concise word choices. Use your own voice to give admissions committees insight about who you are and your perspective on the chosen topic.

10. Proofread Your Essay

Essay writing is a process. Begin with a messy rough draft and continue sculpting it to perfection. After you complete your final draft, proofread your essay, wait a day or two, and proofread it again. Waiting enables you to gain perspective and you are less likely to overlook mistakes.


Developing well-written essays is essential to your application success. They offer you the opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants and convince the admissions committee you would make a fine addition to their student body. For online resources about essay writing, visit College Pencilpedia. For more great essay writing tips and a step-by-step approach to submitting your college applications, purchase “The Ultimate College Application Guide” on Amazon today.

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Pages 176-177, 253-266

Pages 204-251 (App Requirements #12)

Pages 271, 331-332, 337 (Follow-Up #12)

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