Essay Tips

Each year the admissions staff reads thousands of essays. If you are in the process of starting your college essay or polishing it with final edits, we thought we would share our top ten insights for what truly makes a great college essay.

  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, if that's important to you!)

  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 how seniors in high school write, and we also know how parents, counselors and teachers write. The essay should be in your voice. We enjoy reading what you have to say!

  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. Set 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 and edit beyond using the spell check function.

  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! There's no need to try and tell us everything. Pick one narrow topic, and develop it with as much detail as you can. Use your words to paint an image or picture in the reader's mind so they come out of it feeling like they were there.

    Happy writing! We look forward to reading your application essay when you submit it.