How to Write an *Unforgettable* College Application Essay

by Marit Samson   |  May 16, 2023
Art: Anna Louise Flores
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College is that one big step we take as we begin to realize that we are really growing up and the real world is waiting for us. Leading up to this, we ask all the big questions and try to get the answers right. Who am I? What am I good at? What do I want to do in life? How do I see myself in the next ten years? After all the preparations and conversations with yourself, writing a college application essay could be so daunting when your future is at stake. 

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Here are five tips to keep in mind in crafting one of the most important essays you'll ever write.

1) Look back on the best (or worst) moments of your life.

Make your essay personal. The entrance exam is enough to test your intellectual abilities. For the application essay, the admissions board is looking for something else. They want to know about your personality, opinions, experiences, and way of thinking. You may tell them about the best moment of your life that impacted your view of the world, or you may also write about a low moment that completely changed you.

2) Tell them your stories

One of the best ways to introduce yourself to the colleges you are trying to impress is to tell them stories about your life. Instead of simply writing “I have always wanted to study in your university,” tell them about the time you were first inspired to study in their university. You are more likely to create an impactful impression when you paint a picture of yourself in their minds through the stories you tell.


3) Show them how you’ve grown

More than the number of awards and medals you have managed to earn, equally impressive is the growth of your mindset and perspective in life. How did you grow after experiencing the isolation of pandemic? How would your younger self react when they see you right now? Have you ever proved yourself wrong? What is something you changed about yourself that you are proud of? What are some opinions you once had that were disproved? Tell them how you became who you are now and how you got to the place where you are.

4) Say more with less

Imagine how many other essays have to be evaluated by the college admissions board. To be able to stand out among hundreds or even thousands of other application essays, being straightforward is the way to go. Start strong with a rousing introduction and end strong with a remarkable conclusion. Application essays are not about the quantity of paragraphs but the substance of your words.

5) Remember: You’re more than just a student

The essay is your chance to show them the other sides of yourself. You can write about a part-time job you may have, an advocacy you are fighting for, a fascination you have about a specific topic, your passion outside of school or other facts that only a close friend could know about you. Most universities favor applicants who know how to bring their talents outside the four corners of the classroom.

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It doesn’t always have to be grand. You may also tell them how you are as the eldest child, as the mom-friend in your group, or as whatever seemingly mundane role you have that’s actually significant.

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Marit Samson
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