Originally Posted: Nov 5, 2015
Last Updated: Apr 6, 2021
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
- How to Write a Great Admission Essay: You already know how to write an academic essay. You start with an introduction, throw in a thesis statement, find about three paragraphs' worth of evidence, and wrap it all up with a tidy conclusion. Writing the college application essay is different.
- What Should I Write My Application Essay About? Students who are willing to share who they are as a person, distinct from their academic record and test scores, are the students who stand out.
- Now Is the Time to Start Your College Essay: It's smart to start thinking about your college application essay as soon as possible because planning it can be harder than actually writing it.
- What Are Some Cornerstones of a Good College Application Essay? A good college essay can help you get accepted, but a bad one can sometimes prevent it. That's why it's important to do it well.
- Try Freewriting to Generate College Essay Ideas: How can you come up with the basis for a standout college application essay when you have no idea where to start? Try free writing. And start with these tips.
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
- Three Common Essay Mistakes: The essay you submit when you apply to college plays a big role in the admission process; it is the one area that allows you to creatively express yourself. So what do you need to watch out for?
- Steering Clear of College Application Essay Mistakes: Keep yourself on the sunny side of your target colleges' radars by avoiding these simple yet costly essay mistakes.
- Admission Essay Ideas That Just Don't Work: These are college application essay #FAILs waiting to happen.
More helpful essay tips
- Who Can Help Me Write My College Application Essay? Writing is not a group activity, and you should always write your college application essay on your own. You can get guidance, but make sure it is the right kind of help.
- Don't Use Your English Paper as a College Essay: Year after year, students send us college application essays to review that were written for an English class. Most of the essays earned A's...but not a single one was ready to submit with a college application.
Find articles and advice about every aspect of your college applications in our College Admission section.