How to write a college admissions essay: preparing your personal information

College admissions essays are critically important to students’ academic careers, yet they often overlook this importance and rush through them with very little attention. This is understandable, because one often has to complete many different admissions essays in a short period of time. However, it can have long-lasting negative effects on one’s academic career if the student doesn’t get into the program they want. Keep in mind that a students’ application, aside from the essay, is simply a list of facts and figures, with little to differentiate them from other candidates. It’s the application essay that really sets a student apart from the crowd, and a great application essay can even outweigh other problems with an application, like low test scores.

Organizing Your Essays

Many admissions essay assignments are very similar. Some are even exactly the same. Students should gather their application packets and review the essay topic choices for each school. If there are some that are similar between institutions, group these together.

Make a List of the Essay Topics

Once these are organized, make a list of the essay topics, grouping the similar ones in the same category. For each category, make a list of the information that the essay requests. Some of these requests are quite specific. One you’ve listed the vital information, consider what extra information about yourself fits the theme of the essay, and add this to your notes.

Create Outlines for Each Topic

For each essay topic, create an outline. Each outline should include an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should have a main idea, and in the spirit of a personal admissions essay, this main idea should be related to the student themselves. Under the main idea for each paragraph in the college admissions essay, list several other related personal facts that support this main idea.

Write Rough Drafts

Write rough drafts of each essay topic. Once you’ve written them, have a friend, teacher, or family member review them. It can be difficult to judge one’s tone when writing about oneself, or to be sure that the information included accurately expresses what you want. Having another perspective (or a few other perspectives) on the essay can make it much simpler. Incorporate any changes you agree with, and have someone help you proofread the essay before typing it up and submitting it.

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