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How to Write a Great College Essay Step-by-Step

Every student has faced essay writing at least once in his or her life. And if you are intended to go to college and get a good education, you will have to be aware of how exactly to write different types of essays.

Some students have trouble with essay writing. However, this task is not as difficult as it may seem at first sight. Of course, it needs some time, effort, and specific skills to complete it.

Sometimes, your final grade or your opportunity to study at college may depend on just one small essay. So better learn how to do it with the help of our detailed guide.

Step 1: Get Organized

College application essays are an essential assignment. And doing it at the last moment is not the best idea and will not bring you any success. So to succeed, you should stick to the following tips.

Start Early

Whatever you are going to work on – articles or essays, you should begin as early as possible. And the reason for that is straightforward – such an assignment requires a lot of time, and it will be difficult to find it if you start the last moment. Besides, time is not the only thing such writing requires; it is a very cumbersome process. You will have to spend many hours not only to write but also to polish it.

So please make sure to have enough time for brainstorming, writing, and revising your essay. If you wonder when it is the best time to start, we would recommend at least 1,5-2 months ahead. Otherwise, you will not succeed and will get a deplorable result. Your admission is not the reason for the experiments.

Determine What You Need to Do

Unfortunately, there is no one universal way to create your application essay, as well as articles, while all the colleges have their demands and references. So you should find out what each school wants you to do.

The Common App is beneficial in it and gives you a chance to see all the rules of every school or university in the “My Colleges” section, and you do not need any permission for that. But some colleges have a “Writing Supplement” tab, and others provide the reference in the “Questions” tab.

However, some education establishments are not in that app. In that case, try to visit their website and check their essay admissions requirements. Essay writing is similar to articles writing, but it is not a test, remember it. After you did all that, make notes with the school name, the limit of words, deadline, and prompts.

Decide Where to Start

We would recommend starting to work with the essay of your number one choice school or with the one that has the tightest deadline. Also, start with a work that should have a more massive personal statement (500-700 words) rather than with a short one. 

Check out the prompts and see if you could use the same essay to several schools. It will save your time a lot.

But if the prompt is too specific, avoid reusing it. Especially it concerns the essays that require you to write why you choose a particular school. The admissions officers will need to check if you are interested in their school, so you can’t fail here.

Step 2: Brainstorming Your College Essay Writing

Brainstorming essay ideas are your step number two. You can get inspiration for the topic from any source. If you are interested in a couple of them, write down all of them and then narrow the list down.

There is no unique topic that would be perfect, as well as no ideal tip. You should choose your theme. You should write about something exciting for you. Otherwise, you risk sounding too boring. The only thing we would recommend is to devote some time to the choice of the topic and do it wisely. Your result depends on it.

Analyze the Prompts

Analyzing college prompts would be helpful. You should be aware of what they are asking for. Try to find out the following information:

  • Do you have to complete one or several tasks?
  • Is there more than one part of the question?
  • What do the admissions committees expect to learn from you?
  • Does one of the prompts (if you have a choice) appeal to you?
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Consider Important Experiences, Events, and Ideas in Your Life

You should think of different talents or interests of yours about which you could tell the college. Tell about something, making you unique and the desired candidate. You can tell about your hobbies, achievements, jobs, something from the history of your family, etc. Something specific that influenced your personality.

You can tell about any story, about the movies you like and why did they make you as you are now, about your passion for anime, or anything else.

Think About How You See Yourself

If there are some traits of your character you would like to illuminate, share them with the committees. Such an approach is somewhat practical.

Think about how you would present yourself to your potential employer or someone you would like to date. Tell why you are so outstanding. You can even tell about your partner, who changed you drastically.

Step 3: Narrow Down Your List

We bet that even if you have the list of the topics, you are not sure what you should start with. So read all of your ideas once again and decide which of them would make a perfect essay.  

What to Look for in a College Essay Topic

As you know, everyone has a perfect topic. However, there are some aspects every good one should include. The essay should be revealing, focused, contain a lot of details, so your task is to find the topic that would make such an essay.

If you are excited about something, you will be able to make everyone else excited about it. So, find such a topic.

To choose such a topic, you should answer the following questions:

  • Does that subject matter to you?
  • What does it tell the reader about you?
  • Is the topic-specific?
  • Can you discuss that topic in detail?
  • Is it related to the prompt?

If you find definite answers to all of these questions, you will choose the right topic for you.

Deciding on a Topic

Now you probably have an idea of what you would like to write about. Also, think about how to approach that topic in the best way.

Step 4: Figure Out Your Approach

Now your theme is to be turned out into a good essay. Find out what to focus on and what structure your essay will have. You can always find some good examples online and get some ideas. But never copy their approach.

Choose a Focal Point

Your focus should be as narrow as possible. Only this way, you will be able to write a unique personal statement. For example, you can start with a joke or an anecdote connecting your own story to something more substantial. You should find something essential and unique for you around your topic.  

Decide What You Want to Show About Yourself

Storytelling is not your task, but to show something special about yourself. They should understand your personality and what kind of student you would make.

Develop a Structure

Knowing what to write about is just half success, necessary to realize how you will do it. The structure of your essay should be clear and tell something important about your personality.

It means that at the very beginning, you should not spend too much time on the background information. Just capture the reader’s attention. Also, you should explain the overall situation briefly.

After explaining everything, you should finish your story providing the information on how to solve the conflict or what experience you got and what you have learned.

You can also choose a thematic structure, according to which you will need to create a focus and return to it over again.

Step 5: Write the First Draft

Don’t try to be perfect from the very beginning. Just write it down. You will anyways rewrite it a couple of times. Just follow a couple of our tips below.  

Don’t Aim for Perfection

No first draft can be perfect, so don’t waste your time on creating a perfect one. Your task now is to make notes of your ideas.

Write an Engaging Introduction

After the captivating topic, this is something capturing readers’ attention, so make sure to make it eye-catching and exciting.

Don’t Worry Too Much About the Length

Don’t think of the length when working on your draft. Just include as many details as possible.

Step 6: Giving and Receiving Feedback

It would be beneficial to put your essay aside for some time and then get back to it again. After some time, you will have a fresh mind and a different view of the problem. So better give your brain some rest and get back to the paper in a day or so. You will be surprised at how many things you would like to change now.

Step 7: Edit Aggressively

Repeating the previous step, we recommend putting your draft aside for a while and get back to it in some time. No one is perfect, and your draft is not an exception.

You may even give your draft to other people, your friends, relatives, or classmates to read. Pay attention to their opinion. It may be really helpful. When it comes to writing an essay, that tip is handy.

Step 8: Double Check Everything

Now it’s time to review. Your essay may not contain any mistakes or typos, so check everything carefully. The structure has to be clear and precise. If necessary, remove everything you think is not needed. Or add some more details.

Step 9: Do It All Again

Now get back to your first list and check what other essays you may need to write. Pay attention to all the deadlines and all the colleges’ requirements.

Reusing Essays

Some of the essays may be reused if:

  • They both are about the same core question;
  • If one of the prompts is specific and the second one is very general;
  • If they don’t ask about something related to a particular college or course program.

Crafting Supplemental Essays

You can write about something similar to your statement from another point of view. Such a supplementary essay will add something new to your application.

After that, everything is done correctly, and you can submit your essay!

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