When applying to colleges, you are usually required to submit an essay along with your application. This essay is supposed to reflect exactly who you are, what inspires you, where you are coming from, what you have achieved and what you plan to achieve as well as the mistakes you have made and how you have recovered from them. It essentially gives the college an insight into the nooks and crannies of your psyche and your personality.

It shows the admissions team the kind of person you are apart from your academic performance and scores. And lastly, it lets the college know why you want to attend THAT particular college and how it will be a good fit for you. This might seem daunting at first but is the most fun part of any college application process.

Many students end up trying to highlight their entire life-story and experiences into those few words, onto those few pages. However, it is much smarter to fixate on one defining moment in your life and go into the details of that. The best way to go about writing these essays is carefully planning every single step and following it. The final outcome has to be something that makes you happy and proud of yourself when you jot it down.


One of the most common struggles students encounter is resisting the urge to squeeze everything they’ve seen, done, and heard into their essay. But your application essay isn’t your life’s story in 650 words. Instead, pick one moment in time and focus on telling the story behind it. It’s your chance to stand out in the midst of thousands of other applications by telling your own unique story.

Following are the steps everyone can follow regardless of their own individualistic story in order to write an eye-catching college application essay.

1. Understand the prompt given for the essay:

Ensure you stay to the point throughout your essay. In order to do that you must have a good grasp of your prompt. You must read it over and over again and let it sink in with your preexisting ideas. Once that is done, you can then allow yourself to get creative and stretch the idea out into several other dimensions. However, make sure you must stick to your original prompt. Take the challenge and let it explore you before you begin to explore it.

2. Brainstorm:

Once the creative beast starts rearing its head, you must explore every idea that comes into your head no matter how trivial it might seem. Then you shall seek the most relevant one that defines you perfectly a person as well as a professional college applicant. This is the most comprehensive phase of the college application essay process. Once you have come up with every possible idea your brain could think of, cut out all but 3. Then weigh out the potential of all 3 of those ideas to see which one presents you the best. This will end the brainstorming process and you can launch onto the next step.
Girl reading college essay in room

3. Outline:

What makes any essay come out as a professional and organized presentation is the outline that was followed at the commencement of the essay. Hence your college application essay will require you to do the same. After the brainstorming process you will have your brain bustling with words dying to be transferred to paper. But you must do so systematically. Devise a plan to organize your essay into various sections. The three basic sections must be: Introduction, Body Paragraphs and Conclusion. This will give the essay some much needed coherence.


Devise your strategy and follow it step by step. Choose the tone of the essay in this phase as well. Is it going to be humorous or solemn? Once you have chosen your narrative style, you must stick to it throughout your essay. Deciding all this ahead of time will help you stay to the point and have a coherent voice.

4. Writing the essay:

Once you have made sure that all the commencing steps have been followed and the fundamentals have been set in place, you can start writing the essay. The first draft will be rough- worry not and let it be rough. Do not try and proofread it WHILE you are writing the essay. Let yourself flow. Once you are done, you can start revising your draft as many times as you want. Make sure you have not abandoned your main idea by the end of the essay. Do not use repetition, clichés or generic platitudes.

Remember, in order to stand out, you must be original with your college application essay. Make sure you are bringing something new to the table, something that will really grab the admissions officer’s attention. Avoid plagiarizing even a single line in your essay. Make sure your punctuation and grammar is well taken care of. Have someone read your essay and criticize it for any potential kinks. Now you have essentially covered all your basics and have a fresh, original and creative application essay draft of your own.

students writing college application essay

5. Proofreading:

Editing and proofreading will always be a crucial step for every essay you write but more so for your college application essays. You do not want any misplaced punctuation mark or grammatical mistakes to be there and become something that closes the doors to the college of your dreams. Take time before you jump into proofreading.


Let your brain rest a bit and then go into reading the essay only after you have taken time to cool down. Make sure you are proofreading it yourself and not making your computer applications do the work for you. Check if you have used words in the right context and haven’t littered the essay with any slangs or abbreviations. Again have someone read your essay once you are done with this step on your own.

student discussing college application essay

To read more regarding how to write a great college application essay, click here for further essential information and details.

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