How to Write A Killer College Admissions Essay

I know that a lot of our content is focused on current college students and we hope you love it! But, I thought I would share some tips to writing a great college admissions essay for those gals who will be joining the ranks of college students as soon as we’re on our way out! I don’t sit on an admissions committee, but I have read and written a ton of admissions essays in my time on this planet and I think I have some insight on how to really crush it! So, if you’re interested in my tips on how to write a great college admissions essay, keep reading!


Don’t forget to answer the question.

One of the most simple mistakes I’ve seen and heard of people doing is not answering whatever the prompt is trying to get you to answer. There can be a whole host of reasons why people evade or completely miss the point of the essay. DON’T be that applicant. The best way to make sure you are answering the prompt is by outlining before writing. That way you can avoid the wormhole trap that can happen when you just dive into writing whatever your brain is thinking at the moment.

Start jotting down notes about what you think makes you unique as a person and student.

The art of college admissions essay is balancing a humble brag. You’re ultimately trying to tell an admissions committee that you know you’d be a great fit for a school or program without saying that you know you’d be a great fit. There are certain characteristics that will make you into a cream-of-the-crop candidate. Universities are becoming more and more about collaboration, innovation, teamwork, and cooperation. If you have any of these skills and examples to show how you earned them, write about it!

Don’t slack off on adding bits of personality.

Colleges want you to have strong grades and great interpersonal skills, but they also want to know that you can fit on in their universities’ atmosphere. You can use parts of your essay to really show off your hobbies and interests. I wrote my main UNC essay on dance. At the point in my life, dance and music had such a huge impact on keeping me sane that I felt I had to write about it. It gave me the creative license to introduce the reader to my favorite styles of dance and music to create movement too, etc. If you love the library and reading or can’t wait until the next big game, talk about it and really show that passion for learning and improving. Ultimately, that’s what college is all about.

Start them as early as possible.

My essay writing process was pretty seamless because I started so early. I looked up a lot of the schools I knew I wanted to apply to and went searching for previous years’ essay topics or to see if I could find the current ones, because they typically don’t change that much from year to year. You’ll want to start outlining early so that you can make plenty of changes before submitting your final draft!

I know a ton of people who started their essays the week before the application was due, and I honestly believe that whether or not you get in to a school or not will be based on how strong your essays are. Point blank period. I’m sure if I were to ask these same classmates what they thought was the breaking point between them getting into a school and not, they would say it was because their essays weren’t nearly as flushed out as they needed to be.

Have three different people read all of your essays.

I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to criticism. I think it’s best to have your work torn apart early in the process so that you know you are handing in the best work possible. However, I always take criticism with a grain of salt and just because someone else doesn’t like the tone or approach I took doesn’t mean I have to listen to them.

I find that having several different people look at one essay is a great way to make sure that you have a good balance of critiques. I had a teacher, a family friend, and one of my friends, who is excellent when it comes to grammar, read over each one of my essays. This was probably the best way to have my grammar checked and make sure that I was compelling and easy to follow in my story telling.


I’m currently going through this process all over again with graduate school and so I know it can be hard to make yourself sit down and start on these essays because of this implied pressure that comes along with it. You are basically writing about what you’re passionate about and how that school can help you find a course of study that can push you into your career.

They want intelligent students just as much as they want creative, persistent, and hard working students. The essay is my favorite part of the application because it gives you a space to really convince a panel of people that you are worth taking a chance on beyond your test scores and a GPA.

Are you applying this year? What are some other things that are stressful when it comes to the application process? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to do more posts like this. Are you already in college? What are some other tips that you have for people applying? Sound off in the comments!

keep on keepin’ on,

  • Wow! This was such a helpful post! I’m actually a senior in high school at the moment, so I won’t be going to college this fall. But lately I have been following college blogs, reading every piece of advice I can find, and just trying to prepare for next year. I’m honestly super excited for college. 🙂

    When I’m writing essays I tend to go off on tangents or completely forget about the question because I’m trying to make my essay sound profound…haha. I guess that doesn’t really work out well, and I’m glad you reminded me of that! I’m also a hugeee procrastinator, but I see how that could be detrimental to my applications as a whole. I’m really going to have to stay on track this year!

    – Charlee | https://whenlifeglows.wordpress.com/

    • Charlee!! hi hello what’s up! I like to throw a couple of posts in there for the younger crowd and glad that this was useful for you! You should definitely be so excited for college; it can be some of the best years ever.

      Tangents aren’t all bad as long as you circle back to the main point; I do this a lot too! Also, I think you should be okay on the time and organization front if you’re reading college blogs already. SO smart! Don’t stress and enjoy the process! As crazy as it seems, I wish I was in your position again. Thanks for stopping by!
      xo, G