It’s a no-brainer that GPAs and ACT/SAT scores are vital to every college application. However, the college essay prompts are just as–if not more–important. It is the perfect chance for a prospective student to tell admissions officers who they are: beyond their transcripts. Often, the college essay can make or break an application.
If you’re not a writing whiz, crafting the perfect essay may be intimidating. But don’t worry: we’re going to go over common prompts, how to answer them, and college essay writing tips. Keep reading to learn how to write a strong college essay that stands out to admissions committees!
Why This College Essay
The “Why This College” essay is arguably one of the most common college essay prompts offered to applicants. And for good reason! With this prompt, admissions officers are able to gauge whether an applicant would be a good fit for their university.
While this essay may seem like a breeze to write, don’t write it off so quickly! Admissions officers are used to reading the same answers for this specific prompt. This isn’t just a prompt for you to explain what you love about the university. This is your chance to showcase exactly why you’d be a good fit on their campus.
How to Approach the Why This College Essay
Highlight what you can contribute: Use this essay to explain what you like about the school and what you would bring to their incoming class. How would your presence improve their campus life? Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself!
Do your research: Admissions officers seek enthusiastic students, so be sure to make connections between your interests and the university’s offerings in your essay. Highlight specific programs, subjects, and classes that excite you. Discuss what sets the school apart and how you’d leverage opportunities for personal growth. This approach helps admissions officers assess your fit for the university.
Learning From Obstacles Essay
Another common college essay prompt talks about facing challenges, failures, and lessons. This is a great way to highlight what you have learned from these difficult experiences and how it has helped you grow as a student and a person.
By discussing how you face and navigate challenges, you’re actively showing admissions counselors how you would prosper at their university. Would you bode well? Would you fall short? Would it make you stronger? Would it make you weaker? These are all questions the admissions committee will be asking as they read your essay.
How to Approach the Learning From Obstacles Essay
Be honest about the “bad stuff”: Admissions officers appreciate honesty and perseverance. Though it isn’t easy, talking about your struggles or shortcomings shows strength and maturity, especially when you can share how these difficult times have contributed to your self-growth. By sharing your experience and how you’ve overcome it, you’re showing that you are capable of handling tough situations, which can be common while navigating college life.
Emphasize growth: College often marks students’ first taste of independence, and it’s a crucial period for growth. Along with being honest, make sure to highlight your personal development. Share your value for growth, pinpoint areas you aim to develop—bonus if you can tie it back to the university! Explain how the school can facilitate your growth, highlighting opportunities for your advancement. This paints a vivid picture of your potential to thrive on campus.
Topic of Your Choice Essay
By writing about a topic of your choice, you are taking advantage of a great opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants. However, to be successful with this college essay prompt, it is essential to think critically about what–and how–you are going to write.
How to Approach the Topic of Your Choice Essay
Be unique: This essay prompt encourages you to think outside the box. Avoid common topics and aim for something unexpected to capture admissions officers’ attention amid hundreds of essays. If you’re savvy when it comes to writing, consider telling a story–literally. Discuss a quirk, hobby, or specific experience that sets you apart. Think carefully about how you want to present yourself and don’t hesitate to take a calculated risk!
Make it matter: If you’re taking a risk with the “topic of your choice” essay, talk about something that matters to you. Passion makes all the difference, especially in a college essay. Admissions officers want to know what gets you out of bed in the morning. They want to know what motivates you, what drives you, and what you want to do with your life. Once again, it’s a great way to translate what you have to offer at their university.
While the college essay is a crucial part of a successful college application, it doesn’t have to be scary or stressful. Taking the time to write uniquely, authentically, and honestly makes all the difference. With this mindset, you’ll be able to craft a compelling masterpiece of a college essay in no time!