How to Write the Perfect College Essay

Tips for seniors who are writing college essays.

For most students, college applications can be the most daunting part of senior year. After all, so much rides on them.  Not only this, but it is also your only chance to show college admissions who you are. It can be difficult not to cave into the pressure and stress they bring along. There are many times I frustratedly Googled “How to Write the Perfect College Essay” hoping that would somehow give me the insight to finish my essays. I learned a lot throughout this process, and after finally finishing my essays, I wanted to share the tips I gathered along the way.

Where to Start

The best place to start is the prompt itself. It’s necessary that you truly understand what you are writing about so that you can effectively and concisely answer the prompt. One of the most important parts of writing a college essay is adhering to the prompt. If you don’t answer all parts of the prompt, many college admission officers will automatically overlook your essay. Next, brainstorm. This might look different depending on what kind of writer you are or the type of essay you are writing. Some essays require different levels of brainstorming as well. One of mine required a longer outline because I had to do research beforehand; another only required me to jot down a couple of ideas. Once you’ve decided on the points you want to cover and the direction you want your piece to go in, get started!

Rough Draft

For your first rough draft, try to write as much as you can in one sitting. Don’t go back and edit until you’ve finished the entire draft. However, don’t overwhelm yourself. Unless you’re on a roll, don’t spend hours at a time on your essay. After an hour or two of concentrated working, give yourself a break. The most important thing I’ve learned when writing essays is if you find yourself getting frustrated and have no idea what else to write, quit while you’re ahead. No matter how much or how little you’ve written, stop, and come back to it the next day with a fresh set of eyes.


Once you’ve written your first draft, it’s time to revise, revise, and revise! In all honesty, this is the hardest part of the entire process. This is the time you have to think and consider every word you’ve written and whether it’s relevant to your prompt. Depending on the word limit you are given, you might have to cut or add to some of your work as well. Ask others such as teachers or friends to read your essays and offer suggestions. Make sure whoever you ask knows you well. They will be able to tell whether or not what you’ve written is genuine.

The truer you are to yourself, the more your essay will stand out. It’s easy to feel like your life’s story is boring, but that’s completely okay! Colleges aren’t looking for an incredible, tear-jerking saga. Instead, they want to know what makes you different and how your experiences, no matter how mundane they are, have shaped you as a person. Picking a topic that allows you to express your personality is the most important part. Another common misconception is that you should talk about your accomplishments in your essays. Talk about something admissions officers can’t already learn from your application.

Have you finished your college essays yet?

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The most important thing to remember is don’t stress so much over your essays. Yes, they make up a significant part of your application, but they aren’t the sole factor of whether or not you get into college. There are so many other things that are considered along with your essay.