10 Top Tips for Writing the College Admissions Essay

Here are 10 top tips for writing the college admissions essay.

10 Top Tips for Writing the College Application Essay

10 Top Tips for Writing the College Admissions Essay

Many homeschool seniors who are heading to college will need to crank out a college admissions essay. I’ve had the honor of attending workshops by admissions officers describing what they are looking for in an essay that makes them want to choose that student.

Here are some of the top tips for writing the college admissions essay that I’ve learned from them over the years.

  • Make sure you read the essay prompt carefully and answer it creatively.
  • Admissions officers read hundreds or thousands of essays each application season. You have only a minute or two to grab their attention. Start with a bang. Tell a story.
  • The story needs to show individual and innovative thinking. Don’t just give a dull summary of an event. Let the officer know why that event was important, give sensory images, relevant emotions, insightful thought patterns.
  • Make sure the “voice” of the paper sounds like you. Let the officer get to know and like you through this paper.
  • Beware of thesaurus. This paper is too important to throw in a word that you use almost well.
  • Use college-level writing skills: rich but natural-sounding vocabulary and sentence structures, consistent verb tenses, strong transition sentences and topic connected throughout the essay.
College Application Essay Writing Guide 7SistersHomeschool.com
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  • Show how the topic of the essay leads naturally to what you will learn or experience in college.
  • Finish with a compelling conclusion. You want the officer to finish your essay with the thought that they MUST admit you to their college.
  • Write and edit the essay over several days. Have 1 or 2 people read it after you’ve carefully written, edited and rewritten the essay. Ask for comments on content as well as grammar.
  • Make sure you have followed guidelines for length and format.
  • Bonus: If you are struggling to tell the story. Download 7Sisters Family Narrative Writing Guide to refresh your real-life story telling skills.

Here are a few don’ts:

  • Choose a story that shows you as a patronizing person, like: “The Day I Learned to Be Nice to Poor People” or “Some of My Best Friends Are Black” or “My Volunteer Trip That Taught Me to Appreciate My Country”. (Also, those are boring because MANY students write on those very topics.)
  • Fabricate your story.
  • Brag.
  • Make the essay a list of accomplishments.
  • Sound entitled.
  • Forget to research the college: mission statement, values, distinctives.
Advanced Essay Writing Guide
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You can always check for the essay topics for online applications ahead of time. Here is the link to the 2016-17 year’s Common Application topics. Here are some excellent sample essays from Johns Hopkins University.

If you are rusty at writing essays, download and complete 7Sisters no-busywork Advanced Essay Writing Guide before you start your college admissions essay!


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10 Top Tips for Writing the College Admissions Essay




Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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