Top Ten Tips for A Great College Essay

Thinking about the best way to write your college essay? After reading hundreds of essays last year, I wanted to share some thoughts as you're trying to balance a busy senior fall of challenging classes and activities as well as applying to colleges.

1. Don't overthink it. The more you wonder "will this impress an admissions officer," the more likely we can tell that you've spent too much time deciding on the "right" topic, causing your essay to lose personality and authenticity.

2. There is no perfect essay topic. Honestly, we're just looking to learn more about you and your interests. (You can write about why you think tomato soup and grilled cheese is the perfect meal on a cold day.)

3. Please keep it short- a few paragraphs is perfect. Keep in mind that your entire application will eventually be ten or more pages.

4. Ask your friends what they think is interesting and unique about you. Share your essay with them to make sure that it sounds like you.

5. We know what seventeen and eighteen year-olds write like. We also know how parents, counselors and teachers write.

6. If you're funny, you can write a funny essay. If you're not, please don't try. If you are generally a thoughtful and reflective person, your essay will show that.

7. Make up a self-imposed deadline to write your essay. If you're trying to write your essay the night before it's due after a long day of school and play practice, plus having to study for a Physics exam, your creativity will suffer.

8. Spell check will not save you. You must proofread. Spell check will not catch that you were ‘abducted' into National Honor Society. We realize that you were probably ‘inducted,' but we notice those things that spell check did not.

9. Your essay is not a resume or an academic dissertation. Tell me something about your personality, and what makes you-you!

10. Keep the essay focused! Do not try to tell me everything, pick one narrow topic, and develop it with as much detail as you can. Use your words to help paint an image or picture in the reader's mind so they come out of it feeling like they were there.

Good luck!