Essay Writing Resources

College application essays are meant to give you an opportunity to share a bit of your personality with the panel.

Tips for Writing a College Essay

1. Thinking of ideas for a topic is one of the hardest parts of writing a good personal essay. Start thinking about the prompts far in advance to give yourself a long time to brainstorm what you want to write about. Everytime you have an idea, write it down electronically or on paper. That way, when it comes time to sit down and begin writing, you won't have to spend time brainstorming. You'll have good ideas ready to go.

2. Professional writers can take months or years to write an essay. Writing a college essay isn't quite this big, but to do your best, it's going to take a lot longer than writing a typical school assignment. Deadlines will vary for different essays and different schools--make a document with a clear list of all of these deadlines. If a college essay is due on December 1st, plan in advance to start brainstorming on July 1st, and start writing on August 1st. After you've written a first draft, take a break where you don't look at the essay for a few days or a week. Then, come back with a fresh head, and make major revisions, like reorganizing, reevaluating, and re-writing. Repeat this process multiple times.

3. Reach out to as many trusted people as possible to revise, comment on, and suggest edits for your college essays. Getting feedback from other people about your essay will give you an inkling about what an admissions committee might say, before it comes time to submit the essay. Here are some suggestions of people to ask for help in revising your essays: high school teachers, family friends (especially if you have any who have a job that requires a significant amount of writing), parents, college-age or older siblings or friends, and anyone else you can think of!

4. Often, different schools have different essay requirements. Some may ask extremely similar questions, or even the have the same prompts with subtle differences, like length limitations. Once you've finished one essay for a common application, or an application to a specific school, it's a good idea to find ways that you can reuse the same essay, or parts of that essay, in other applications, where the prompt is similar enough. This might require some restructuring, word-cutting, or making other small changes, but it's a lot more efficient than writing a brand new essay for a similar question. Just remember, save a copy of the original draft!

Other Essay Writing Resources

View the Common App Essay Prompts here