College Application Essays: Our Best Advice

We’ve talked about application essays a lot over the years—what to write, what not to write, what to do when you’re ready to pull your hair out and quit at life. That’s why we gathered all the juicy application essay advice up so you can find it in one handy place. Right here!

How to start your application essay

Real-world application essay examples

  • Application Essay Example: The Beard: The essay a student submitted with his application to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and it helped him gain admission there. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!
  • Application Essay Example: Playing Dress Up: The essay a student submitted with her application to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and it helped her gain admission there. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!
  • Application Essay Example: The Surgeon: The essay a student submitted with his application to Loyola University New Orleans. He is a graduate of The American School in Switzerland. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!
  • Application Essay Example: Small Town: The essay a student submitted with her application to The University of Tampa in Florida, and it helped her gain admission there. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!
  • Application Essay Example: Why They Call it Fishing: The actual essay a student submitted with his application to Willamette University in Oregon, and it helped him gain admission there. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!
  • Admission Essay Example: Ball of Yarn:  The essay a student submitted with her application to Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, and it helped her gain admission there. Check out the essay, then make sure you read our tips!

Inside information from the admission office

  • Top College Essay Tips From Admission Insiders: The college essay can help your application, or it can hurt it. You want to stand out in a good way...and these admission experts know how you can do just that.
  • How to Stand Out With Your College Essay: These five college essay tips—straight from admission professionals—will help you and your college application stand out.
  • Insider Essay Advice: Where does your application essay stack up against the thousands that are submitted every year?
  • Why Your College Application Essay Matters: Worried about writing the "perfect" college application essay? Guess what: admission officers don't want perfect! One admission insider explains.
  • How to Write a Transfer Essay That Works: Before sitting down to write your transfer college application essay, use this one simple question as a guideline to your future: why are you applying to this particular college?
  • How to Write the Why Us Essay: When it comes to the "why this university?" application essays, lots of students misunderstand the prompts—and miss out on an important opportunity to stand out.

Do’s, don’ts, and serious essay fails

More helpful essay tips

Find articles and advice about every aspect of your college applications in our College Admission section. 

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