College Essay Writing Tips

College Essay Writing Tips

Writing an application essay is no easy feat. It takes time and hard work, but it's well worth the effort. A good essay will compliment your application and set you apart from other applicants.

Before you get started, read the list of do's and don'ts shown below.


  • Do start with a good plan. Come up with an idea, theme, or focus before you start writing.
  • Do create an outline. This will help keep your essay organized.
  • Do use real-life or well-researched examples to support your theme.
  • Do start your essay with an interest-grabbing sentence, paragraph, statement, question, quote, or anecdote.
  • Do come up with a good ending that works with the rest of the essay.
  • Do read your essay aloud as you write it.
  • Do proofread very carefully and do it at least three times.
  • Do have someone else critique your essay. Choose someone who will be brutally honest. (In other words, don't choose someone who loves you.)


  • don't start your essay with something boring like "I was born..." or "My name is..."
  • don't write an autobiography or resume that has been disguised in prose format.
  • don't think you can get away with using your first draft. You can't. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
  • don't be afraid to throw out your work and start fresh. Some ideas just weren't meant to be.
  • don't use your essay to explain your SAT scores, GPA, etc.
  • don't use wishy-washy clichès, i.e. from the bottom of my heart, more than life itself, etc. Be creative and original.
  • don't ever completely rely on your computer for spell checking. Your computer does not know the difference between it and if, fried or friend, etc.
  • don't use a fancy font or colored paper. Your essay should be neatly typed and easy to read.