8 Tips for Writing College Essays

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College essays are often the most dreaded and time-consuming part of a college application. And while essays are ranked only fourth in importance for most admission decisions (behind grades, rigor of curriculum, and test scores) a great essay can be the difference between a college acceptance and denial.

college essay

Essays are a student’s big opportunity to highlight his or her strengths and discuss material not presented anywhere else in the application. This is where you can share who you really are with the admissions staff: Highlight accomplishments that you weren't able to list elsewhere, express personal philosophies and give insight to your personality, or appeal to the reader’s ethos by sharing personal experiences., the leader in on-demand, 24/7 tutoring services, helps thousands of students craft compelling essays each year. From brainstorming ideas to final edits,’s expert writing tutors are available for every step of the process.

8 Tips For Writing College Essays

Here are some great tips for writing college essays during the winter break:

  • Brainstorm! Think of what can distinguish you from other applicants. Make lists of your strengths and accomplishments, then think of the events in your life that helped develop who you are. Starting the essay can be the hardest part, so it’s good to have a few ideas.
  • Understand the different types of essay prompts. As of August 2013, the Common Application (a nearly universal college application) gives applicants the choice of five different essay options. Familiarize yourself with each topic and make sure your essay clearly addresses each element of the prompt.
  • Start early! Writing takes time, as does outlining, citing, and editing. You’ll probably go through a few drafts, so don’t start the night before the deadline. (But if in a pinch, is available 24/7!)
  • Be honest, be an individual. While you may not think your essay topic is the most original or exciting, it is the only one coming from—and about—YOU! Everyone has a story, and it doesn’t have to include a summer backpacking in Europe. As long as the topic is truly meaningful to you, it will come across in your prose.
  • Take breaks—give your mind a chance to clear if you feel as though you are getting stuck. Also make sure you are getting full night's sleep and exercising regularly to help reduce the stress of college applications.
  • Make sure you have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion to your essay.
  • Stay within the guidelines depicted in the essay. Writing an extra 500 words may make you feel like an overachiever, but chances are the admissions rep reading your essay will question your ability to follow instructions.
  • ALWAYS have a second (or third) pair of eyes review your essay, both for content and for grammar. The experts at are there for you any time, anywhere, to help ensure your college application essay is the best representation of you.

 What are some of the ways you help your children prepare for college?

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