How to Answer the College Admissions Essay

Wouldn’t it be great to have the college of our dreams hand us an acceptance letter without our having to fill out lengthy applications or, better yet, without our having to write that dreaded college admissions essay? Well, very few of us have that luxury. In fact, in addition to the common app essay, many schools require their own supplemental essays.

Perhaps the only thing worse than having to write the college admissions essay is having to read hundreds of those essays. How do you make your essay stand out rather than just becoming part of the dreaded slush pile admissions officers must wade through? Follow the tips below.

  1. The college admissions essay is not the place to tally your accomplishments. There are plenty of places on the application to list all the amazing things you’ve done. Doing so on the essay can make you sound like a braggart.
  2. The college admissions essay is also not the place to repeat what the admissions officer already knows. He knows ABC University has an amazing science program and that the campus is conveniently located near some of the best hospitals and he’s heard from thousands of people who have always wanted to be a doctor when they grow up. He wants to hear something he doesn’t know.
  3. What you do want to do is make your essay stand out from the hundreds the admissions officer will go through. The best way to do this is to avoid predictability by telling your own story.
  4. Ask yourself what you want the college admissions officer to know about you. Give a snapshot of one experience that helped make you who you are. It may refer to an aspect of your family life, school life, or volunteer activities or a seemingly random tidbit that actually sheds light on what makes you tick or how you think.
  5. Make yourself likable. You don’t need to tell everything about yourself in your college admissions essay. It’s not an autobiography. It is a snapshot and you want to leave the admissions officer wanting to get to know you better. He should finish your essay with the thought that you would be someone who will contribute to his school in any of a variety of ways. Colleges don’t want just brainiacs.

Rather than dreading the college admissions essay, anticipate it as one of the best places to make yourself shine. This is your chance to show your personality. Be yourself and be free to have fun with it.


The Right Path is available for college admissions essay help through small group workshops and both in-person and online counseling sessions. Please use the Contact Us form in the bottom right corner to let us know what we can do to help you write the perfect essay or email us at


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