Student Success Blog For Educators


February 16, 2016

Seven Secrets of Great College Application Essay

One of the most stressful experiences for every student during their entire education is writing a college application essay. It’s is an extremely thankless job, because they have to distill their knowledge, but more importantly, their entire personality, into a single application essay.

As if the whole ordeal wasn’t complicated enough, it seems like some colleges go far and beyond to make it harder for students by asking questions that range from pretty generic, like “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now”, to downright bizarre, like "So where is Waldo, really?", which the University of Chicago is traditionally known for.

We’re not going to offer you meaningless generic advice like “just relax and be yourself”. Instead, we’re going to try and level the playing field and provide you with 7 tips and tools which can help you knock your college essay application right out of the park.

Be concise

Remember that admissions officers need to go through hundreds or even thousands of these in a relatively short time period. If you are meandering all over the place with your writing and taking forever to get to the point, they are going to lose interest and may not even read your application essay all the way through. While there is usually no upper limit for college application essays, you are probably best off keeping it under 700 words or so.

Focus on One Great Idea

While you may be tempted to cover as much ground as you can and throw everything but the kitchen sink at it, your writing is only going to come off as scattered and all over the place. This is why it’s best for you to choose one great idea that works and run with it. Don’t shy away from it because you think it may not paint a complete picture. It’s not supposed to.

Make Them See You as a Person

Use your college application essay as an opportunity to make yourself stand out from the bunch. You need to make yourself come off as an actual human, because colleges are also about being social, and admissions officers know that too. Demonstrate how you would be a great addition to their academic community. Be likable, but use humor sparingly.

Take a Stand

Don’t be afraid to take a stand on some of the more sensitive topics, instead of delivering a bland, middle-of-the-road view everyone else does. In fact, if there is room for it, you can even try being controversial, just as long as you retain the right balance. Express your views on the subject, but don’t present it as the definitive truth. You will earn their respect by presenting a different perspective on some of the hot topics like religion, politics or art.

Present Your Intellect.

In other words, be smart, and make them realize that. You can be funny, controversial, and passionate, but first and foremost, you need to show that your intellectual capacities should earn you a spot on their campus. Of course, college is not just about studying, but your essay has to show off your brain above everything else.

Don’t Shy Away from Editing

Once you are done writing your college application essay, you need to let it sink in first, and then read it again, using a fresh pair of eyes. The worst thing you can do is rush through it, or become in love with absolutely everything you’ve written down. Nobody is going to know if it took 5 drafts for you to complete it, or just one, but you do only get one chance to write it. Make sure it counts.

Make Use of Modern Technology

You can further improve your chances of being accepted by relying on some digital tools which can help you write a better essay. We recommend the following 8:

  1. Help.Plagtracker – PlagTracker is not a plagiarism-checking tool. It offers both editing and essay writing services to students.
  2. – Academic social network and a reference management tool which can help you discuss your views with both students and professionals.
  3. – For crafting a professional essay, you need some professional writing tools. Completely free.
  4. – Awesome tool which lets you to create your own bibliographies and auto-fills your citations.
  5. – One of the most reputable online essay writing services which can help throughout all stages of essay writing. Read EssayMama's review.
  6. – If you are writing something as important as a college application essay, make sure to back up all of your work just in case.
  7. – In order to get past that blank page, you can do some brainstorming with the help MindNode which uses mind mapping to help you come up with ideas.
  8. – Sometimes an idea for your essay will appear out of nowhere. Make sure you are always ready to write it down.


Check out the following tips and tools we have laid out for you. We promise you it will make the entire essay crafting experience a lot less stressful.

Best of all, you will wind up with a college application essay which will be top-notch. You already have the ideas and the intellect, it’s just a matter of getting others to see it.


Guest blogger:

KenToday's guest post is by Kenneth Waldman. He is a professional content creator with over 5 years of experience.


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