Do’s and Don’ts in Writing College Application Essays By Tom Jager

One of the most important moments of your life is already here: you’re about to send an application to a college. But when you finally sit down and start writing your application essay, the right words don’t come easily. Everything you write seems like total nonsense and you desperately delete it after hours of work.

But don’t be discouraged! Everybody experiences the toughness of writing a college application essay at one point in their lives. You just need a little assistance.


Here are some do’s and don’ts that will definitely help you write a successful college application essay.

Be Yourself

In his interview on college application advice, Jeff Brenzel, Dean of Undergraduate Admission at Yale University, says that the most important thing is how you feel about yourself. While you might think that a little embellishment in your college application is harmless, any lie will not go unnoticed.

People won’t be interested in you if you find nothing interesting or exciting about yourself. So, paint the true picture of yourself in your application essay.

Let Them Hear Your Voice

Plagiarizing somebody else’s thoughts will definitely spoil the first impression. So don’t try to overflow your essay with a ton of citations, and definitely do not rip off an essay from the Internet.

What’s important for your success is displaying your own thoughts. So tell your own story and express your opinions. The way you think is more important and interesting.

Make the List

Remember the old trick of making a list of your strengths and weaknesses? Do that, but now try to focus only on your winning traits. Don’t criticize yourself. Displaying your insecurities in your college application essay won’t make it successful, but your desire to turn them into your winning traits will be beneficial.

Don’t Write Too Much

For this point it’s better to make an outline of sorts for your essay to make sure that you will cover all necessary topics. But don’t exceed essay length limits. Just imagine how many essays the admissions departments will have to read! Besides, 400 to 600 words are often enough to cover all of the important things.

Make Your Essay Detailed

You may think that this slightly contradicts the previous point, but writing an application essay without any details shows that you’re simply not interested.

Put the reader in your shoes and make them see your personality. Just imagine that you’re writing a short story about yourself. Engage the reader.

Don’t Forget About the Requirements

Carefully read the requirements for your college application essay. Remember that each college or university has their own style and preferences. Don’t just send a copy of one essay to dozens of colleges. If your essay doesn’t fulfill the particular list of the requirements, it won’t be accepted. Just follow the guidelines.

Proofread Your Essay

Nothing gives the wrong impression faster than a terrible grammar or spelling mistake. “A considerable percentage of college applicants fail because of a huge amount of mistakes found in their application essays,” says Alfred Smith, an educational expert at Best Essay Tips. So, do proofread your essay. It’s crucial if you want to make a good impression.

And, if you’re uncertain about some parts of your essay in terms of grammar or spelling, there are plenty of resources that can help you out.

Let Someone Else Read It

Ask your parent, a significant other of a friend to read your essay. They will read it from their perspective and give you their point of view.

They always wish you success in achieving your goals, so remember that and don’t be afraind to ask for their advice or help once in a while.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Take your time and don’t leave it until the last minute. Take some breaks to refresh your thoughts and it will motivate you and bring some new ideas.

Remember though that taking too many breaks will trigger procrastination. Follow your schedule and deadlines.

Narrow Your Focus

Highlight only important topics and keep your essay personal. Don’t try to praise the college, it will seem like you’re trying too hard to suck up.

Try to cover only specific topics. Telling too much will turn your application essay into a resume and will not tell a story about you personally. Readers are interested in who you are, so choose only those topics you are really interested in.

Applying to a college may be overwhelming, but hopefully these tips will come in handy when the time comes to show your creativity in a college application essay. Don’t forget that your essay must have a main idea, which the readers will follow from the beginning to the end.

The key to a successful college application essay is to keep it structured. But don’t forget about creativity! Show your motivation and excitement about this new chapter of your life, and it will definitely make your application essay stand out.

Tom Jager is a professional blogger. He works at Proessaywriting.  He has a degree in law and English literature. Tom has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him at G+  or  Facebook.