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How To Write A College Essay That Makes An Impressive Start?

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: June 27, 2017

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: June 27, 2017

How To Write A College Essay

A well-formatted college essay goes beyond your academic qualifications and extracurricular achievements. That’s why you need to understand how to write a college essay. 

You need to stand out from the crowd when applying to the college of your choice. Most colleges require applicants to submit application essays outlining why they are interested in that institution. Admissions officers review hundreds of essays in a short period of time. Therefore, unnecessary flourishes, fancy formatting, and unique fonts tend to distract rather than attract admission officials. You can make your essay easier to read by keeping it simple and concise. And if you stick to a standard format for college essays, you can achieve this goal.

student writing a college essay

Decide on a Topic

You will probably need to choose a topic for your college essay. You need to choose a topic that makes it clear what you want admissions officials to know about you. The best way to choose a topic is by reviewing a college’s templates and finding the most used topics. While you want to be unique, it is always best to prioritize what the college prefers. 

Regardless of your topic, stay true to yourself in your essay. The goal is to show your uniqueness and how important that trait will be to the institution and the community. 

Brainstorm Your Ideas 

Before you begin writing your draft, you need to know how to write a college essay. Unlike other essay types that require you to demonstrate creativity, college admissions officials aim to know about you. The templates can help you understand the college essay tips you need to follow while writing your application essay. 

Select an Outline

Formatting an outline for a college essay can be challenging for many students. However, the outline will help you remain focused on your selected topic when writing your essay. Create an outline of the main points and arrange them in the best way that communicates effectively. 

Draft Your Essay

Stick to the suggested font and spacing. Many colleges specify their preferred word count; if this is not the case, you should limit your essay to 500-650 words. 

Structuring Your College Essay

There are no set standards for the best structure of a college essay. But you need to ensure your ideas flow smoothly from the intro to conclusion. 

College admissions officials evaluate your creativity and presentation skills. If you organize your essay using short paragraphs, each point will be clear. 

While there are several structures on how to write a college essay, some are not recommendable. For example, the standard five-paragraph structure may not be the best for your college application essay. 

Female college student working on a laptop, sipping coffee and listening to music on the headphones

Starting Your Essay the Best Way

If you are wondering how to start a college essay, do not worry! Like other essays in high school and college, your college application essay must begin with a hook. The first sentence of the introduction should grab the reader’s attention. 

Start your essay with a descriptive sentence that highlights a particular moment or characteristic without explaining much. For example, presenting your first three sentences like a dialog drags the reader into your story while also introducing your personality. 

Start with imagery to show the reader the context you are trying to explain. This context allows the reader to accurately understand your emotions and thoughts closely. It also demonstrates your unique personality and perception of the world. 

Try to be a philosopher. Remember, the primary goal is to demonstrate the unique qualities and value you will add to the college if you are admitted. Therefore, posing a philosophical statement allows you to present yourself as a critical thinker and a person with profound ideas. Ensure the statement or question communicates the theme of your essay. The reader will understand the theme and what is in the rest of the essay. 

Start with a confession. An important tip on how to write a college essay is to admit a weakness for which you may be judged. This creates a sense of honesty in your essay. It also intrigues the reader to learn more about you. 

The Best Font for College Essays

Your reader does not have time to struggle with illegible fonts. An illegible font is the first distraction when reading your admission essay. 

The standard Times New Roman or Arial size 12 font offers the best readability. However, if a specific font is recommended in college essay templates, stick to it. 

The 5 Steps to Writing an Essay

Your college application essay should follow the standard essay structure. You may have the best story for your college essay, but if your ideas are not properly organized, you may not secure admission to the preferred college. 

The following five easy steps can make your writing process easier and more presentable: 

Determine the purpose of your essay. Do not underestimate how much you can overlook important instructions. Misinterpreting instructions can be costly; you cannot be admitted if you present unnecessary information. Therefore, take time to understand what is required of you; only include details that the reader needs to know and can use to determine your personality. 

Conduct research. Now that you have a clear topic, it’s time to start prewriting. Unlike a general essay, you do not need a lot of learning materials to understand how to write a college essay. Visit the college’s website or review the previously approved essays to understand what college admissions officials are looking for. Then take a personal assessment to determine if you have the qualities they are looking for. 

Organize your thoughts into an outline. Outline all the important points you want your reader to know. 

Draft your essay. Write your college essay based on the points you outlined earlier. Ensure your ideas flow smoothly. Remember that honesty is key when writing a college essay. Include qualities that would be beneficial to the college’s community. 

Proofread your essay and remove all unnecessary information. The last thing you want is to have grammatical or punctuation errors in your college essay. Avoidable errors can demonstrate carelessness and deprive you of a chance at your college of choice. Therefore, ensure your essay is error-free before submitting it for consideration. 

The Bottom Line

Everyone wants to join the best college for further studies. The quality of your college essay determines your chances of joining the college of your choice. Therefore, understanding how to write a college essay can work in your favor at this critical moment. 

You could also consider checking out degree and certificate programs at University of the People, a fully online, tuition-free university. 

Contact us today for more information. 











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