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writing a college paper

Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > How to Write a College Essay from Start to Finish

How to Write a College Essay from Start to Finish

No matter if you’re approaching your first essay in a 101-level class or you’re a little further into your undergraduate career, crafting a college essay that gets you the grade you’re looking for is no easy feat. Use this guide on how to write the college essay—and, first, how to format it—to help pave the way toward an easier A on your next assignment.

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Formatting the College Essay: Know Your Style Guide

To know the correct way to format your college essay, you will first need to know which style guide your field or course requires. More often than not, a college essay follows one of these three guides:

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Each of these style guides has its own standards for formatting essays and their citations. Once you know which guide your professor or field prefers you to use in your essay, you can consult resources available at your college’s library or writing center, or online, from somewhere like the Purdue Online Writing Lab , to ensure your work is formatted correctly.

Where to Begin: Tips for Starting—and Finishing—the College Essay

It might be hard to know where to start with an essay, especially one with an intimidating page count. Break down the whole process into something that’s a little more manageable with these end-to-end tips for college essay writing.

Read the Assignment

The most important place to start with your essay is always the prompt or assignment that you’ve been given. Each assignment will vary in its specificity: some college essays are quite open-ended, challenging you to explore your own interests and ideas within a broader sphere of thought; others are very precise, asking you to present an argument and evidence in response to one or more concrete questions.

Familiarizing yourself with the task that’s ahead of you will not only help you find inspiration for your upcoming writing sessions but it will also help you understand straight away whether or not you need to consult your teacher or another resource about any questions you might have.

Find Some Direction

Once you have clarified just what the assignment entails, take some time to consider how you want to approach your essay. Before you sit down to write, it’s useful to first have a brainstorm. Consider your topic, along with any research you have already conducted on it, and try to develop your own take or angle. While you might change your mind as you research and write, it can helpful at this early stage to develop a hypothesis or working thesis that your research and writing will ultimately attempt to prove.

Do Your Research

Armed with this unique angle or working thesis, it’s time to hit the books. Some college essays may require that you cite a minimum number of primary and secondary sources. Regardless of whether there is a minimum number or not, though, you will want to search for authoritative sources that support and strengthen your own analysis. Explore sources online and at your school library, taking notes on each, and compile your research in one place that will be easy to access and reference once you begin writing later.

Create an Outline for Your College Essay

As you’re doing your research, you’ll likely start getting some new ideas for the direction and shape of your essay. Save yourself some work later on by organizing your research into an outline that follows the same structure that your final essay will take. Each college essay typically sticks to the following structure:

Get Writing

By creating an outline for your essay as you research, you should be able to approach the writing of your piece with a solid skeleton or scaffolding in place, such that the writing process is mostly a matter of filling in the gaps around your research and fleshing things out with further detail. Still, as you write, you might identify areas of your essay that require further research or inquiry. For this reason, writing the body of your essay first, before an introduction or conclusion, can often be the easiest approach. Bring all of your ideas to the body of your essay, and then craft your introduction and conclusion to reflect everything that you’ve discussed within your essay.

Once you have a completed draft of your essay, take some time to revise. Using an intelligent writing assistant like Microsoft Editor can save you some time by catching typos, grammar errors, and unclear sentences as you’re writing.

Of course, you’ll also want to take some time to consider the contents of your essay more broadly and identify any places where your argument or evidence might be weaker than others. If your deadline isn’t looming right around the corner, it can be helpful to step away from your writing for a little while. After a break, you can come back to the page with a fresh set of eyes, making it that much easier to finish writing a paper that makes the grade.

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Best Guide on How to Write College Admission Essay: Tips and Examples

writing a college paper

The Goal of College Admissions Essays

From a high schooler's perspective, college is an essential milestone to their future success. But if you step into a college staff's shoes, you will see that the institution is much more than just a temporary shelter. It is a community with its structure, goals, and hopes. When they open their doors for you, they need to be sure that you align with their beliefs and add value to their community. 

The college admission essay is there to give the admission committee a better understanding of who you are as a person, your experiences, beliefs, and future aspirations. Such an essay aims to showcase your personality, writing skills, and unique perspectives.

To get into your desired university, you need to know how to write a college admission essay that demonstrates your character and potential. Remember that these essays are an opportunity for the admissions committee to learn more about you personally rather than a recap of your academic accomplishments. Draw attention to your skills, interests, and strengths. Persuade the committee that you belong in their community.

Our professional writers will provide you with all the college admission essay help you need and more. If you are already a college student, check out our article on how to write a hypothesis or get research paper writing help . 

How to Make Your College Admissions Essay Stand Out 

We made it our mission to help you write a college admissions essay so good that not a single admissions officer will decline your application. Some of the most valuable lessons we could share include being true to yourself and approaching deep issues from unexpected perspectives. 

Let's not waste time and dive straight into all the tips and tricks for writing compelling essays for college admission. 

how to make college essay

Be True 'You' 

The college admissions officers read thousands of application essays annually. They have read every textbook essay ever. You need to somehow stand out and make an impression that they can't shake out of their head.

The only way you can stand out is by being yourself. We know it's a cliché statement, but only one of you is on this planet, and you need to use that fact to your advantage. A college admission essay is not a place where you must be shy. Quite the opposite! Be authentic, genuine, and personal. Let them know you have your own voice. 

Captivate the Reader from the Start 

Our next tip is a piece of essential advice on how to write college admission essay. You only get one shot to catch the attention of the admissions committees. Don't waste time; captivate the reader from the start. 

It may seem like you have entire paragraphs to make an impression, but actually, you don't. All you have is the opening sentence. How you craft the first words will either make or break you. Don't wait till the second paragraph to get original and authentic. Do it from the very beginning. Seize their imagination immediately, and you'll have people excited for the rest of your college application essay. 

Concentrate on Deeper Issues 

Without the next tip, our college admission essay help would not be absolute. College admissions officers are not interested in the facts, and figures senior-year high school students usually provide in their admissions essays. They want to get to know you. Give them what they are seeking. 

A successful admissions essay concentrates on deeper topics and issues. The ones that demonstrate the applicant's personal qualities and skills. A well-written essay showcases how you approach challenging topics and how you articulate complex ideas. Avoid writing overly wordy essays, but don't miss an opportunity to display that you can scratch the surface and see the bigger picture. 

Consider the Prompt from a Unique Perspective 

The higher education world seems scary. There are so many strict rules to follow and so many eyes that determine whether you are worthy of being part of their community. It's easy to fall into the trap of commonness. 

In reality, admissions officers are looking for students that bring fresh and unique ideas. Without them, academia would become stagnant. College admission essay writers are encouraged to write unconventional and unexpected essays. You may consider that your thinking defies the rules, but that's all they are searching for. 

College Essays Are Not Your Thing?

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College Admission Essay Format 

While you are free to bring unique ideas to the table, there are still important rules that you must follow. Formatting the application essay correctly is one of the most important parts of college essay writing, and your acceptance heavily depends on it. 

Our college admission essay format guidelines will help you write an irresistible application essay. Once you get in, you might need a helping hand. You can always depend on our college essay writing services . 

Unsurprisingly, the title of your application essay should be just as captivating as the rest of it. An appealing title can grab the reader's attention, set the tone for the essay, and make them eager to read more. 

Be creative: A unique, clever play on words will surely grab the admission officer's attention.

Keep it short: Use a few words that accurately represent your essay's content.

Be personal: It will make your application memorable and meaningful. Avoid clichés: Overused titles are buzz killers. 

You can use a college admission essay writing service to get all the above right. 

This is trivial, but you can't imagine how many students get it wrong. The content of your essay can be compelling, but it will be worth nothing if you don't use the right font style. 

Check the guidelines of the desired college for college admission essay format. Follow the instructions carefully. Generally, the acceptable fonts for a college admissions essay are Calibri, Times New Roman, or Arial. The size of the font should be 12pt. Avoid using all caps, underlines, or, God forbid, emojis. The font style should be readable and academic. 

Citation Style

One thing the academic world will never forgive is plagiarism. When writing admission essays, avoid this deadly sin at all costs.

Usually, the most selective colleges will provide information on their preferred citation style. But if such is not offered, college admission essay writers can choose from MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard citation styles. It is crucial to cite properly and acknowledge other people's work. Proper citing will showcase your outstanding writing skills. 

Admission Essay Outline 

Once the format is down, it's time to focus on the college admission essay outline. Having a good structure makes your essay easy to read and comprehend. It also demonstrates advanced writing skills and makes you a prospective student. If you need extra help, you can always count on our online essay writer service. 

College Application Essay Introduction 

The college admission essay format is easy to master, but the outline could be challenging. An impactful essay must start with a compelling introduction. Here you introduce yourself and the college application essay theme. 

The introductory paragraph should not be short but avoid being too wordy. The first sentence must introduce your college essay topic, and all the sentences following should stick to the point. 

Impress admission officers by being efficient with your words, which provide relevant information. Finish this part with a thesis statement. 

College Application Essay Body Paragraphs 

After capturing the attention of admissions officers with a great introduction, you get a chance to elaborate on your ideas and prove that you belong on the list of prospective students. 

The body paragraphs of a college admission essay serve as a centerpiece where you provide supportive information about the thesis statement. Here you can expand your ideas, personal experiences, and personal achievements. 

Each body paragraph should concentrate on a single aspect of your life that you want to highlight to the admissions committee. It is important to provide specific details and examples to support your points. Make sure each paragraph ties into the overall theme of your essay. 

College Application Essay Conclusion 

We have reached the final step of the college admission essay outline. A good college admissions essay must finish with a conclusion that wraps up your thesis and personal statement by summarizing the main points and reiterating why you are a strong candidate for the college.

Be original. Restate your thesis in different words. This will show that you have a clear understanding of your message. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and excitement for college. Impress admissions officers with a memorable ending. You can use a charming quote, a thought-provoking question, or an original statement that encapsulates your personality.

Choosing a College Admission Essay Topic 

Plenty of colleges are giving students the liberty of writing about their preferred topics. But some students spend most of their senior year worrying about test scores, not thinking about the theme they would like to discuss in their college essay. 

If you are one of them, no worries! Next, we are going to offer you topics for successful admissions essays. You can explore our college admission essay examples and start the writing process. 

Share Your Life Goals

Sharing your life goal is one of the most distinct college admission essay topics. It can encapsulate your entire personality. 

Go beyond the basic career and family goals. Try to answer the essay question with a personal spin. Writing about your life goals gives the admissions office insight into your values, aspirations, personal growth, and plans. It highlights your unique qualities and experiences. 

Writing a personal essay about life goals demonstrates that you have a clear sense of direction and purpose. It proves that you are a motivated and driven individual who will take advantage of the opportunities available at college and contribute to the community.  

Biggest Risk You've Taken

Any college admissions officer desires to read a college admission essay demonstrating the applicant's true nature. The risks you have taken and how you have dealt with failure or success tell a story of one's characteristics. 

If you've made a bad choice, think about how you would do it differently. If you took the chance and it turned out to be a wise move, consider what inspired your decision and how it impacted you. Describe the steps you took to prepare for and carry out the risk and what you learned from the process. 

This type of personal essay shows admissions counselors who you are as a person and what values and beliefs you hold. It gives an insight into your problem-solving skills, determination, and resilience.

What Your Ted Talk Would be About 

Ted talk materials can also make a great essay for college admission. The admission committee can glimpse the applicant's passions, interests, and ideas. It's a great opportunity to prove that you are more than your SAT scores. Showcase your creativity, critical thinking skills, and effective communication style. 

Ensure the topic you choose has a concise, one-sentence conclusion that you may emphasize throughout the essay to provide it with a sense of purpose. Focus on a topic you feel passionate about and one that teaches a valuable lesson. Don't exceed the word count. An overly wordy essay, despite its content, is still exhausting to read.

Share One Aspect of Your Personality

College admission essay topics don't have to be groundbreaking, but they should open doors for you. Sometimes focusing on a personality trait is worth of thousand stories. If all the college admissions officers want is to get to know you, why not do it on your own terms?

The admissions process is much more complex than some standardized test scores. Yes, you are smart; test scores show that. But what value will you add to the community? Look for a characteristic about yourself that will make you stand out from the competition and emphasize the special viewpoint you will offer to the institution.

Explain a Problem You'd Like to Solve 

It's always better to get specific. Whether you are having a conversation or applying for a job interview, you always have a better chance of being remembered if you offer a specific problem and its solution. 

A college admission essay is no exception. A creative problem can showcase your passions and interests and set you apart. Put all those extracurricular activities to use. Offer how you can use already existing knowledge and what you can add. An admissions officer is much more inclined to notice a candidate who has prepared a very distinct letter in a creative and quirky manner.

Not all the students applying have a chosen path. If you have a plan, use it to your advantage and write a strong college essay.

More Tips for Writing a College Admissions Essay

We are not done yet. Writing admissions essays is a complex task and requires focus on many aspects simultaneously. There are some essay requirements without which your college essay would not be complete. Below we provide a list of tricks to help you write a college application that no one can reject. 

If you feel lost, just say, ' write my papers for me ,' and our college admission essay service will help you in no time. 

tips college

Consider the Reader When Writing 

After reading our advice below, you won't have to wonder how to write college admission essay.

The admissions officers will use the essay to assess your writing skills, creativity, and critical thinking. To ensure that the reader receives your college essay well, you should understand their expectations and priorities. Researching the college you are applying to will give you a better understanding of its values. Craft an essay that shows how you align with them. 

The most important essay question relates to your potential as a student. Focus on what the committee wants to learn about you. Build flawless and reasonable arguments.

Make a Few Drafts 

The application process starts way before your senior year. We suggest starting to write your college essay as early as possible. Give yourself enough time to prepare multiple drafts. Chances are the first one you will write won't do it. 

When you write your first draft, forget about word limits. Write everything down and let your thoughts flow. When you get everything down, start rewriting. Each draft allows you to reflect on your writing and make changes to better convey your ideas. 

The final draft of your college admission essay will have the right tone and style. It will demonstrate your unique voice and writing skills. 

Use Your Intuition 

Unlike test scores, college essays are not standardized. You can't be mainstream and banal. Using intuition while writing an essay for college admission is important because it allows you to be authentic. It encourages you to express your genuine thoughts and experiences. 

By relying on your intuition while making personal statements, you can create a special connection and emotional resonance with the reader and make your essay stand out.

You are more likely to feel confident in your writing when you follow your intuition. Confidence is key to great essays. 

Eliminate Buzzwords 

Buzzwords are overused phrases, and clichés often used to sound impressive, but they can detract from the quality of your writing. Eliminating buzzwords from your college admission essay is crucial because it shows that you can communicate originally and thoughtfully. 

Instead of impressing the reader with big words, try to express yourself from a unique angle. Use your voice, feelings, and experience. 

Finish Your Essay on a Strong Note

A solid conclusion can leave a lasting impression and help you stand out among the other applicants. 

Yes, your introduction was impressive, your personal statements were touching, you obeyed strict word limits, and you used citation style, but the last sentence of your college essay flopped. It can ruin everything. 

Finish your essay for college admission with a confident and enthusiastic conclusion. Summarize important points and show the committee that you are passionate about your future and committed to being a prosperous student. A strong ending can help provide a sense of closure and purpose. 

College Admission Essay Sample 

Above are all the tips and tricks you need to know before you start writing your college essay. 

To make things even more clear, next, we will offer you a sample essay for college admission. Explore a unique example and tailor one after it. 

Use Our Academic Help 

You can avoid the trouble of writing and simply buy college admission essays. Our professional writers will help you at any stage. If you wrote a piece but are unsure if it's the most compelling one, just say, ' rewrite my essay ,' and we will polish your text and get you into the college of your dreams. 

Don't forget to check our article about how to write diversity essays and ensure our writers are real wordsmiths. 

Do You Have a Hard Time Writing College Essays?

Worry no more! Our professional writers will get you an essay meeting your requirements in no time.

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Social Media Essay: Tips and Topics

I help high-school seniors write their college-admission essays. Here are the 4 most common mistakes to avoid.

For high-school seniors, one of the toughest parts of the college-application process is writing the dreaded personal essay.

For eight years, I've been helping students shape their college-entrance essays. I help them home in on ideas that work, and I edit the essays to make sure their stories make sense. Lastly, I work with students themselves to buff and polish the essays until they shine. 

Through my years working with students, I've noticed several common mistakes. Here are the four pitfalls any prospective college student should avoid when writing a personal essay.

Think your idea or topic is original, but everyone is actually writing the same thing

Your personal experience may be unique to you, but it may not make a unique college essay. 

For example, in my area, there is a huge South Asian immigrant population. These kids are first-generation Americans and were brought here as small children or were born right after their parents arrived. These first-generation Americans want to share their stories because these are important, meaningful stories. Unfortunately, though, the idea isn't original. On average, approximately 70% of my students are trying to write on the same topic. 

Similarly, students often think writing about someone else — a role model, for example — will be original. I assure you, it will not. Yes, you have deep respect for your grandmother who raised five children as a single mom, but that's her story , not yours . 

You're writing about an experience that happened when you were in elementary school

I've seen high-school students write about how they learned to be part of a group when they joined a robotics club in third grade. Unfortunately, the admissions counselors don't really care about third grade. They're interested in your current life — as a high schooler. 

You want to write about things that have happened to you recently. Did you just have a big blowout with your friend group that redefined your meaning of friendship? Did you find out that your best friend cheated on a recent chemistry exam? What did you do about it? 

Tell us who you are today — not who you were in elementary or middle school.

You want to focus on your achievements, your SAT scores, or your grades

Showcasing your academic triumphs is what the rest of the application is for. From transcripts to letters of recommendation to a list of your activities, admissions officers will see your accomplishments throughout your application. 

But if you rewrite them in your personal essay, you'll just be repeating yourself, which colleges don't like. Plus, you won't be showing who you really are.

You're not thoroughly proofreading your essay

Reading the essay back to yourself under your breath isn't enough. I want you to first read the essay out loud — one word at a time and slowly. I want you to then read it out loud to yourself again, but this time, read it backward so that you see each word as a separate entity. Finally, I want you to use free spell-check programs, like Grammarly. And then reread it again before hitting the upload button.

With all that said, make sure you're showing who you are in your college essay. Bring yourself to life . Use the power of storytelling; it will get you everywhere.

Do you have a powerful or unique college life story to share with Insider? Please send details to [email protected]

writing a college paper

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form .

How to use ChatGPT to help you write


ChatGPT's advanced capabilities have created a huge demand , with the 'app' accumulating over 100 million users within two months of launching. One of the biggest standout features has been its ability to compose all sorts of text within seconds, including songs, poems, bedtime stories, and essays. 

Also:   What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here's everything you need to know

Contrary to popular opinion, ChatGPT can do a lot more than just write an essay for you (which could be called plagiarism). What is more useful is how it can help guide your writing process. If you are a looking for ways to use ChatGPT to support your writing, here are five different ways to explore.  

How to improve your writing process with ChatGPT 

1. use chatgpt to generate essay ideas.

Before you can even get started writing an essay, you need to flesh out the idea. When professors assign essays, they generally give students a prompt that gives them leeway for their own self-expression and analysis. As a result, students have the task of finding the angle to approach the essay on their own.

If you have written an essay recently, you know this step is often the trickiest part -- and this is where ChatGPT can help. 

Also:   I wish I had ChatGPT when I was in college. But not for the reason you might expect

All you need to do is input the assignment topic, include as much detail as you'd like -- such as what you're thinking about covering -- and let ChatGPT do the rest. For example, based on a paper prompt I had in college, I asked:

Can you help me come up with a topic idea for this assignment, "You will write a research paper or case study on a leadership topic of your choice." I would like it to include Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid and possibly a historical figure. 

Within seconds, the chatbot produced a response that provided me with the title of the essay, options of historical figures I could focus my article on, and insight on what information I could include in my paper, with specific examples of a case study I could use. 


2. Use the chatbot to create an outline

Once you have a solid topic, it's time to start brainstorming what you actually want to include in the essay. To facilitate the writing process, I always create an outline, including all the different points I want to touch upon in my essay. However, the outline writing process is usually tedious. 

With ChatGPT, all you have to do is ask it to write it for you. 

Also :  ChatGPT productivity hacks: Five ways to use chatbots to make your life easier

Using the topic that ChatGPT helped me generate in step one, I asked the chatbot to write me an outline by saying: 

Can you create an outline for a paper, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid"

After a couple of seconds, the chatbot outputted a holistic outline divided into seven different sections, with three different points under each section. 

This outline is thorough and can be condensed for a shorter essay, or elaborated on for a longer paper. If you don't like something or want to tweak it further, you can do so either manually or with more instructions to ChatGPT. 


3. Use ChatGPT to find sources

Now that you know exactly what you want to write, it's time to find reputable sources to get your information from. If you don't know where to start, like with all of the previous steps, you can just ask ChatGPT. 

All you need to do is ask it to find sources for your essay topic. For example, I asked it the following: 

Can you help me find sources for a paper, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid."

Also :  The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other interesting alternatives to try

The chatbot output seven sources, with a bullet point for each that explained what the source was and why it could be useful. 

The one caveat you will want to be aware of when using ChatGPT for sources is that it does not have access to information before 2021, so it will not be able to suggest the freshest sources. However, it is a start.  


4. Use ChatGPT to write a sample essay

It is worth noting that if you take the text directly from the chatbot and submit it, your work could be considered a form of plagiarism, since it is not your original work. As with any information taken from another source, text generated by any AI should be clearly identified and credited in your work.

In most educational institutions, the penalties for plagiarism are severe, ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from the school.

Also :  ChatGPT is changing everything. But it still has its limits

If you want ChatGPT generate a sample piece of text, put in the topic, the desired length, and watch for what it generates. For example, I input the following text: 

Can you write a five-paragraph essay on the topic, "Examining the Leadership Style of Winston Churchill through Blake and Mouton's Managerial Leadership Grid."

Within seconds, the chatbot output exactly what I asked for: A coherent, five-paragraph essay on the topic which can help you to guide you in your own writing. 

At this point it's worth remembering how tools like ChatGPT work: They put words together in a form that they think is statistically valid but they don't know if what they are saying is true or accurate. That means you might find invented facts or details or other oddities. It won't be able to create original work because it is simply aggregating everything it has already absorbed. It might be a useful starting point for your own work, but don't expect it to be inspired or accurate.


5. Use ChatGPT to co-edit your essay

Once you've written your own essay, you can use ChatGPT's advanced writing capabilities to edit it for you. 

You can simply tell the chatbot what you specifically want it to edit. For example, I asked it to edit for essay structure and grammar, but other options could have included flow, tone, and more. 

Once you ask it to edit your essay, it will prompt you to paste your text into the chatbot. Once you do, it will output your essay with corrections made. This could be the most useful tool as it can edit your essay more thoroughly than a basic proofreading tool could, going beyond spelling. 

You could also co-edit with the chatbot, asking it to take a look at a specific paragraph or sentence and asking it to rewrite or fix it for clarity. 


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College Essay Format: Writing & Editing Tips

A good college essay format, with the right topic, goes beyond your academic accomplishments and extracurriculars.

[Featured image] An aspiring college student works on her college essay with a notebook and laptop.

You want to stand out in a crowd, particularly when you’re applying to the college of your choice. As part of the application process, many schools ask for an essay to accompany the standard academic and personal information they require. So it’s important to make it a good one.

Your college application essay is essentially a story you tell that offers a glimpse into who you are, beyond your admissions application, grades, activities, and test scores.

A college essay, often called a personal statement, is your opportunity to reveal your personality. It's a way for the admissions department to get to know you as a person and get an idea of the kind of student you'll be.

So how should a college essay be formatted? This article covers formatting best practices, how to choose a compelling topic for your essay, and writing and editing tips to help you craft an essay that captures the attention of the reader, gets your point across, and is free of errors.

Decide on a topic.

You'll often have a choice of topics for your essay provided by the college or university. Choose a topic that allows you to best highlight what you want the college to know about you. 

A good start is to list three positive adjectives that describe you. Then, see if you can write two or three real-life examples of each trait that demonstrates that you possess that characteristic.

Also, think about the stories other people tell about you or the words they use to describe you. Ask people who know you well:

What do you think sets me apart from others? 

What are my strengths? 

How would you describe my personality? 

What are my quirks?

These ideas can become the inspiration to develop material for a good college essay. 

From the list of essay prompts you receive from the college, choose the topic that will give you the best chance to showcase who you are within the limited word count. You don't have to write about a major life-changing event. It can be a mundane or ordinary situation—like a dinner table conversation, day at school, or conversation with a friend. Often, slightly unusual topics are better than typical ones because they hold a reader's attention.

Regardless of the topic you choose, remember that the true topic of your college essay is you, and the purpose of it is to show how you are unique. It highlights an important piece of who you are and where you want to head in life.

Common college essay prompts

Over 900 colleges use Common App essay prompts, which means you may be able to write one essay for several college applications. Some past Common App college essay prompts—which are announced publicly each year—include the following topics:

Share a story about your background, interest, identity, or talent that makes you complete as a person.

Describe a time when you faced a setback, failure, or challenge and what you learned from it.

Tell about a topic, concept, or idea that is so captivating to you that you lose all track of time.

Write about something that someone has done for you that you are grateful for, and how gratitude has motivated or affected you.

Whether or not the school you're applying to uses Common App questions, it will publish required essay topics in its admissions materials. Or, you may be asked to write on a topic of your choice. Here are some additional common college essay prompts you might encounter:

Describe a person you admire and how that person has influenced your behavior and thinking.

Why do you want to attend this school?

Describe your creative side.

Name an extracurricular activity that is meaningful to you and how it has impacted your life.

Tell about what you have done to make your community or school a better place.

Consider length.

Consult your college application instructions to see how long your essay should be. Be sure to stay within the required word count or essay length, not going over the maximum or under the minimum.

Chances are, you'll be given a word limit. If none is specified, experts on the admissions process recommend you keep your word count between 500 and 650 words. Use the required essay length to help you determine what you will share. You won't be able to tell your life story within these few paragraphs, so choose the most impactful examples as your content. 

Create an outline.

An outline helps you plan your essay so you know how it will begin and end and identify key points you want to include in the middle. Use your outline to stay on topic and get the most use out of your word count.

Decide on a logical order.

The most effective outlines are usually the most simple ones. For instance, a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Likewise, your essay will have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Unless the college requests a specific admission essay format, use the format you've been using to write essays in high school that you're likely to be the most comfortable with. If you're stuck on how to open your essay, write the middle of your story first. Then, go back and write a compelling introduction and a concise conclusion.

Sample format for a college essay

While the format of your college essay is largely up to you, it can be helpful to have an example as a springboard to give you ideas. Consider the following college essay format as you organize your writing.

1. Think about using a title.

A title for your college essay is not necessary. However, including one can add interest. But if you're low on word count, you can skip it. You can also wait until after you write your essay to decide. It's often easier to come up with a fitting, compelling title after you've told your story.

2. Open with a hook.

Your opening sentence is one of the most important parts of your essay. It's what you'll use to capture the attention of the reader and give them a reason to read on. The start of your essay is your opportunity to make an impactful first impression, so make your opening a good one. Here are two examples of how you can open with an interesting hook:

Start in the middle of your story: Call out the most interesting point of your story, and then backtrack from there. For example, "And there I found myself, surrounded by baby sea turtles on the hazy shores of Virginia Beach."

Make a specific generalization: This is a sentence that makes a general statement on what your essay will be about, but gives a specific description. An example: "Each year on our family vacation out of the city, I contemplate the meaning of life as we cross the Golden Gate Bridge."

3. Continue with your introduction.

While your hook will spark the reader's curiosity, the rest of your introduction should give them an idea of where you're going with your essay. Set your story up in four to five sentences.

4. Tell your story in the body of your essay.

If your introduction and conclusion are roughly 100 words each, your body will end up being about 450 words. Think of that as three to five paragraphs, with each paragraph having its own main idea or point. 

Write in a narrative style—more as though you're having a conversation as opposed to writing an instruction manual. While you should pay strict attention to using proper grammar and sentence structure, you have the freedom to make your essay a reflection of your personality.

If you are a humorous person, use humor. If you're an eternal optimist or love getting into the minute details of life, let that shine through. Tell your story in a way that’s logical, clear, and makes sense.

5. Wrap up with a conclusion. 

Finish your story with a conclusion paragraph, and make sure you've made your main point. What is the main thing you want the college to know about you through this story? Is it what you've learned, a value that's important to you, or what you want to contribute to society? Finally, conclude your essay with the personal statement you want to make about yourself.

Writing tips on how to format a college essay

As you're writing your college essay, keep these tips in mind:  

Be authentic. One of the most essential parts of how to format a college application essay is to be authentic. The college wants to know who you are, and they will be reading dozens of essays a day. The best way to make yours stand out is to just be yourself instead of focusing on what you think they want to hear. 

Show you can write . While the most important part of your personal statement is showcasing who you are, you'll also be judged on your writing ability. That's because knowing the fundamental principles of writing is important to college success. Show that you understand the structure of an essay and proper use of the English language.

Give the answer right away. If you're using a specific question as your writing prompt, answer the question directly in the opening paragraph. Then, use the rest of the essay to elaborate on your answer.

Stay on topic. Make good use of your word count limit by being concise and coherent. Stay on topic and refrain from adding any information that doesn't add to the main idea of your essay. 

Write in your voice. Imagine you’re speaking to an actual person as you write. Be honest and accurate, using words you normally use. Your essay is a personal statement, so it should sound natural to the reader—and to you too.

Use real examples. Add real-life events and vivid details from your life. This adds color and validity to your personal statement. Personal examples will show you embody the characteristics or values you claim to, rather than merely saying you do.

Keep the formatting simple. Opt-out of fancy fonts that can be hard to read. Stick to fonts like Times New Roman or Arial. Avoid using bolding (except for headings), italics, all caps, or exclamation points. Let your words speak for themselves instead.

Save your essay. Instead of writing your essay directly in the online application, draft and save your essay in a document like Google Docs or Word—or start out on paper and pen if that's what you're most comfortable with. That way you can make edits and use helpful online spelling and grammar checkers. And you won't risk losing your essay if the application times out or you navigate away from it by mistake. When you copy and paste your essay into the application, make sure your formatting, such as line spacing and bolding for headings, remains intact.

Follow directions. Read and understand the specific instructions set by the college. Review them again before you submit your essay to make sure you've met all of the requirements.

Editing tips on how to format a college essay

Finally, edit your essay until you’re satisfied it conveys the message you want it to and it’s free of errors. Let your first draft be as messy or pristine as it comes out. Then, go back later—several times if needed—to clean it up. Ask yourself these questions as you edit your essay:

Is my essay free of grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors?

Is it the proper word length assigned by the college?

Have I answered the question in the prompt?

Does the introduction make me want to read more?

Are there any vague statements I can replace with more specific details?

Do any parts drone on or feel boring?

Does it feel too formal?

Are any parts or words repetitive?

Have I misused any words (such as there, their, and they're)?

Are my sentences varied in length?

Have I shared with the college what I most want them to know about me? 

It can also be helpful to ask someone you trust to read your essay and give you constructive feedback. This might be a trusted teacher, parent, school counselor, or college student. It's best to choose someone who is familiar with the purpose of a college essay.

Ask them to give feedback about your essay using the same questions as above. But they should never try to rewrite your essay. And never let others edit out your voice. Ask them to focus on grammar and mechanics and to give suggestions on items to add in or leave out. 

Above all, ask your guest editor what point they think you were trying to make with your essay. If they get it right, you know you've crafted a college essay that reflects you and your intended message. 

Enhance your writing skills

Bring out your best in your college essay with a course in Writing a Personal Essay from Wesleyan University. Learn how to find your voice, structure your essay, choose relevant details, and write in a way that pulls in your readers.

Related articles

Bachelor’s Degree Guide: Resources for Your Undergraduate Education

College Essay Topics and Writing Tips

How Long Should a College Essay Be?

How to Write a Personal Statement

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How to write a college essay in 2023

Writing college essays is a common task if you are a student. However, being a student means completing various kinds of essays, including complicated ones. Thus not all students are happy and comfortable with such an assignment. Difficulties appear because of the need to write an essay for various reasons. For example, one can stress out because of a lack of knowledge. Students also need help with essays if they cannot find relevant sources and must learn how to research the topic. Another problem related to writing essays is the need for more time and short deadlines. Many students admit that the main problem they face because of written assignments is frustration and lack of motivation.

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There are several ways out of complicated situations related to your written home tasks. You can ask your teacher for additional lessons or reach out to your skilled classmates who can write an essay for you. Unfortunately, only some teachers are ready to spend time with students after classes, and only some of your friends are free enough to help you with your homework. That is why one of the best ways to write a college paper if you are unsure you can do it by yourself, is turning to a college essay service like essayshark.com . Authors with relevant experience and degrees in some core college disciplines will gladly assist you with any essay. For example, if you need help with an argumentative essay, your helper will consider all the standards of writing such type of paper. Online writing services follow the manuals provided by students and offer paying rates. If you choose a reliable writing service, you will reduce all your problems related to papers and feel much more confident getting a new written assignment.

Please read our article to learn how to write a college essay in 2023 and apply these tips when working to create impressive papers.

Always start with the instruction

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Teachers help students to write essays correctly by providing them with detailed manuals. Instructions from teachers contain all the required information to use when writing. Such manuals define the type of an essay (explanatory, persuasive, narrative, compare & contrast, etc.) Also, manuals provide students with information about topics, recommended sources, deadlines, formatting style, tone of voice, overall recommendations on the structure, and other significant aspects. If you start with the instruction, you can write an essay because all the core requirements will be counted. Ask a teacher to clarify the instructions if you are unsure that you get them correctly.

Define a topic

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One of the initial stages of writing a comprehensive and meaningful essay is choosing a topic. If you want to write a good paper, try to find an interesting issue for you as an author. Exciting topics motivate students to research them and create outstanding papers. You will write an excellent paper by selecting a topic that inspires you and makes you wish to investigate the issue. Ensure that the topic you are going to use is manageable and that there are enough materials on this topic. If the case is too rare, you will face difficulties collecting information. If the topic is unusual but relates to the needed discipline, you had better agree with the teacher before you start writing.

writing a college paper

Research the information

The stage of research is one of the main stages one should complete when writing an essay. After you define a topic and ensure that the case is exciting, you need to collect relevant materials. Successful essay writers know that to find data that will stand out and make a paper meaningful, one should spend loads of time. Moreover, you need more than one source to write a successful essay. You could include research from at least three to five sources. Amongst the possible sources to consider when writing an essay are the following: books, websites, blogs, podcasts, interviews, scholarly articles, memoirs, reviews, poems, movies, novels, dissertations, thesis papers, and other types of sources.

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Combine drafting with structuring

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This piece of advice is essential. Because if you want to write a good paper fast, you had better combine the stages of drafting and structuring. Drafting means including the most significant ideas and opinions in the first draft of an essay. Structuring means writing down the names of the core sections of your forthcoming paper and then editing them with your ideas and other significant elements. Start with adding a draft with three core elements: an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Be sure to write down the main statement and include it in an introduction. Your essay will benefit if you consider adding to an introduction with some catching facts or jokes, or other unusual elements. The main body is a central part of your paper, which must provide the core statements and ideas on the issue. A conclusion must repeat the core statements and underline them. Refrain from worrying about typos or mistakes as well as punctuation because, in the next stage of writing, you will reduce all of them.

Proofread the text

Editing an essay is very important because if you do not read it properly to reduce all possible mistakes and typos, you will score a lower grade than you might score. Ensure that you follow all the teachers’ manuals and correctly write all the names, dates, and other vital information. Proofread the text, ensuring that you follow a certain tone of voice and style of writing. When you read the paper for the last time, you will need to reduce mistypes or other errors like grammar and punctuation errors. Use online tools that help to proofread papers, like Grammarly . There are different versions of such tools, paid ones, and free ones, so that you can choose the best for you.

We hope that after reading our article, you will know how to write a college essay in 2023. By following our tips, you will succeed and feel more confident in your papers. We wish you good luck!

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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Pamela Reynolds

When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.

So, what does this mean for you?

Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.

A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.

Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.

Be Authentic

More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.

Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.

Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.

Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.

Grab the Reader From the Start

You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.

Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.

Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.

Focus on Deeper Themes

Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.

College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.

They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.

Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?

Show Don’t Tell

As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.

The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.

Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.

Try Doing Something Different

If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?

If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.

You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.

However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.

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Write With the Reader in Mind

Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.

Use transitions between paragraphs.

Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?

Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?

Write Several Drafts

Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.

Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.

Read It Aloud

Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.

Don’t Repeat

If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.

Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.

Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.

Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.

Pay Attention to Form

Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.

“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.

In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.

End Your Essay With a “Kicker”

In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.

It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.

So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.

While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.

Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!

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About the Author

Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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We know that college paper help must be of good quality and bring joy to clients. The grades for the work will depend on the uniqueness, as the teachers always check this, and we also decide to keep up. We appreciate everyone who contacts us – therefore, we have introduced quality control, which has the primary purpose of verifying our authors’ work and their activities. The uniqueness of the work is one of the essential criteria for the task, and our college paper service does everything to protect it.

Professional writers

Our college paper writing service was created with a professional approach, and therefore, we have gathered more than 300 professional writers who have confirmed their writing skills during the testing process for our service. Each author can work with us only if they have a diploma of higher education, sometimes a doctoral degree and, of course, experience in this field. Each creator is the best professional in their niche, and we always select a qualified writing expert who will best match your application instructions. The tasks of our clients are always written by highly educated professional paper writers for college, which means that you can safely trust us with your writing assignments.

Meeting deadlines

Our college paper writers are very professional in their work. They always complete it quickly because they understand that you will need more time to check the assignment for errors and comply with the instructions. We always provide on-time delivery, and we are proud of it because we never let our customers down. You can safely contact our college paper service for help and be confident and calm because we will not make you late for the teacher’s deadline; on the contrary, we will make sure that you have time to familiarize yourself and then defend your work and get a good grade. Simply ask us, “help with my college paper,” and we are here ready to assist!


Our college paper writing service understands your privacy concerns when ordering professional academic papers online. The priority of our trusted writing service is the confidentiality of the data of clients who trust us with their experiences and academic difficulties. Therefore, we never share your data beyond the service, and we ask our customers not to distribute their information, such as their name or other personal information, on their own. In such a case, it will be difficult for us to take care of your information and keep it inside the service. Be careful, and everything will be fine and straightforward.

We are always ready to help you – make up your mind!

Everything went according to plan, the essay is really great written. Thanks

I am more than satisfied how the author creafted the paper structure, tecaher was very pleased.

Thank you all for the help. Got may paper within a week, all requirements were met, superb!

I am thrilled to let you know that I have met all deadlines for the first time and it’s delightful! Thnx for help

It’s a great tool that students can use to get over complicated papers, absolute recommendations.

Great service. Generally very happy with it. An area of improvement is to make prices a bit lower.

How College Paper Writing Services Can Be Useful

Sometimes, you have to go through it and experience it yourself to understand something. What is the use of a phone or the Internet? Sometimes such gadgets are indispensable in the modern world, or they help make our lives much more accessible. This is quite normal because technologies are developing and needed along with them. If students once dreamed that the library would always be available and they did not have to search for information for days, now there is such an opportunity. Students have wanted to find help in their studies without leaving home; at the same time, it was straightforward, as this also became possible a long time ago. Demand creates supply, and for many years paper writers for college have been working at sites around the world. You can understand the benefits of college writing services by understanding what exactly it can give students who can no longer cope with their studies on their own and tear out their hair in the evenings instead of enjoying life while walking in the park. We are helpful for these people because our college paper service can solve their many problems, thereby making their lives brighter and more accessible by reducing their problems ourselves.

Some find the benefit of getting help with college paper writing in that they don’t have to do it on their own, and others see the blessing in taking time for themselves without sacrificing academic performance. No matter your reasons, you can always find the benefit of delegating your learning difficulties to college paper writing services. All students are different, and everyone sometimes has problems that prevent them from coping with learning, which can harm their psyche. Our company was created so that students worldwide can live freely, despite the complex tasks in their studies. The service is always ready to be useful for everyone who needs college papers help and prove its usefulness because we always think about our customers and their assessments.

Live in the moment and we will help you with your studies!

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Our college paper writing service has been helping students with problems that arise during their studies for a long time and catching positive reviews. We have been selecting managers and authors for a very long time, and we trust them with the tasks of our clients. For us, the most important thing is the convenience of our customers, and we appreciate everyone who comes to our site. To see this, you can read our guarantees and bonuses.

Our college paper writing services always keep aware of modern clients who come to us every day, and we appreciate your wishes. If you decide to trust us, you can be sure that you can quickly solve all your problems and be at your best both in life and in your studies.

Freedom is real – just delegate the papers to us!

5 Best Cheap Essay Writing Services USA Students Like If you're a USA student looking for help with a college paper, check out our roundup of the most affordable essay writing services to use.

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Writing a college paper is difficult even if you've had practice and know the topic well. For students who face time constraints, writer's block, or any other challenge in trying to finish their paper, a professional essay writer can help.

Looking for the best, cheap essay writing service? As a student, it's no secret that you're always looking for ways to save money. And when it comes to essay writing services, affordability is often the top priority. We scoured the internet to find the most affordable, yet professional services for you to use.

Here are the cheapest writing services on the market ranked based on affordability:

  WritePaperForMe : $6.69 per page, best value

  SpeedyPaper : $9.00 per page, runner-up

  PaperHelp : $10 per page, best for graduate papers

  EssayPro : $10.80 per page, the cheapest option for urgent orders

  Studdit : $13 per page, best for complex college papers

These top essay writing services offer affordable, student-friendly prices without sacrificing quality, timeliness, or originality.

Let's take a closer look at why these are the best essay writing services to choose for affordability. We'll also answer the burning questions you have about buying an essay from an online service.

The List of The Best Cheap Essay Writing Services:

Many affordable essay writing services are only cheap because they don't maintain acceptable quality levels. Most cheap services regularly miss deadlines, deliver unsatisfactory content, and may even submit plagiarized content.

However, when you choose a reliable custom essay writing service, you can enjoy high-quality services at a great price.

#1. WritePaperForMe — Best Overall

WritePaperForMe is a cheap essay writing service with the cost of a paper starting at just $6.99 per page. Considering the industry average is closer to $10 per page, this company can't be beat. If that's not enough, they also provide free unlimited revisions to guarantee your satisfaction with the final product.

Just like with any other professional essay writing service, the price increases with urgency of your order. We placed an order for a two-page college essay to be delivered in six hours (it was the fastest available turnaround), and paid only $54 for that.

Surprisingly, the paper was delivered one hour before the requested time, which was cool. As for the quality, we would rate the paper we got 8 out of 10 stars, because the essay's conclusion section was a bit vague. However, using this service was a pleasant experience overall, and we definitely got value for money.

This company goes one step further to provide much-needed services to students: they can assist with coursework, write your term papers for you, complete homework assignments, and more. This essay writing website is ready to handle your “write my essay” request at any time of day. Their customer service team can be reached by phone, email, and live chat for instant help 24/7, whenever you need it.

One key feature of WritePaperForMe is their quality control system. If your assignment is a niche subject like engineering, finance, architecture, the life sciences, mathematics, computer science, or another difficult topic, your order will be given special attention and double-checked for factual errors before delivery. Apart from that, the quality control system ensures that only the most qualified writer will work on your order.

Students from high school to PhD programs can use this writing service for a number of different academic projects including essays, research papers, admissions essays for college, book reviews, and lots more. WritePaperForMe is the cheapest essay writing service in the US.

Deadline options range from 2 months to 6 hours

Formatting, title page, and essay outline included for free

Guaranteed plagiarism-free paper

24/7 customer service available

#2. SpeedyPaper — Runner Up

SpeedyPaper is another affordable essay writing service that delivers great content for a relatively low price. It comes in a very close second to our number one pick. Reviewers have a lot of great things to say about this company, from praising the turnaround times to complimenting the ease of the ordering process.

After reading some positive reviews, we decided to put this essay writing service to a test and place an order for a two-page undergraduate essay with a 6-hour turnaround. Just like with WritePaperForMe, this was the most urgent deadline available, even though some websites offer a 3-hour delivery.

The paper was delivered just in time. When the order was ready, we received an email notification with an invitation to log in to our personal account and download the paper. It was a philosophy essay that required a deep understanding of complex concepts and ideas, and our writer managed to nail it, so the essay was interesting to read.

Moreover, they presented a well-reasoned argument and structured the essay just well, so we’d rate the paper 10 out of 10 stars. The paper was of better quality than the one we received from WritePaperForMe, but it was also a little bit more expensive. We had to pay $64 for the paper we received.

SpeedyPaper can help students at any academic level with a wide variety of essay types, research papers, and more. They have a wide range of services including resume help, grading and marking to give students an idea where they stand, and other coursework assignments.

The customer support team is always ready to help out customers in whichever way works best for you, whether it's over the phone, via email, or a live chat for an instant response. Plus, you'll be able to communicate directly with the writer assigned to your order to check in on its progress in real time.

SpeedyPaper is one of the most reliable essay writing services out there. They have a money-back policy in place to protect you in case you change your mind or aren't satisfied. The entire ordering process is fully confidential from start to finish, and they'll never share your information with third parties. Plus, they'll write your assignment according to the essay guidelines, grading rubric, etc. for great results.

Price per page starts at only $9

Fast turnaround between 14 days and 3 hours

24/7 customer support

Writing team has more than 500 professional writers

New and existing customers can take advantage of regular deals and discounts

#3. Studdit — Best for College Papers

Studdit is a high-level academic writing service that caters to college-level students and above. This company employs professional essay writers that have proven academic backgrounds and writing experience to guarantee A+ papers. Every writer employed by Studdit has either a Bachelor's Degree or PhD in their field, as well as writing certificates for top-level results.

The two-page college level legal essay we bought here cost us $80, which is a bit expensive. Even though Studdit offers a 3-hour turnaround time, we opted for 6-hour delivery and received the paper in 5 hours. As for the quality of the paper, we would rate the writer's work 9/10 stars because of their high proficiency in the legal field and great reasoning. The paper was well-structured and read well, but we spotted a few minor grammar errors that spoiled the score.

Studdit's writers specialize in a number of academic assignments including research papers and essays, literature reviews, research proposals, critical thinking essays and more. They'll even handle calculations for things like economics and statistics courses. They truly cover every essay writing assignment type a college student could need help with.

Studdit includes many services for free with the cost of their papers, including title pages, essay outlines, formatting according to your assignment instructions (APA, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.), reference page, quality check, and more to deliver even more bang for your buck. They also offer rewriting services if you aren't confident in the paper you've crafted.

One of the best features for your peace of mind during the process is the outstanding level of communication. Not only can you communicate with your writer in real time about the progress of your essay, you can receive email or SMS updates as the status of your essay changes. This means you'll always have up-to-date information about how your essay is coming along.

Cost per page starts at $13

Turnaround ranges from 2 months to 3 hours

Can choose the writer who will work on your essay

Excellent history with satisfied clients

Customer support is easily accessible through multiple channels including phone and email

#4. EssayPro — Best for Emergency Orders

EssayPro is a cheap paper writing service and a top choice if you need an essay the same day. Their prices for a 6-hour delivery deadline start at only $23.10 per page - that's roughly half price compared to most other major paper writing services with rush orders under 12 hours.

The ordering process with EssayPro could not be easier. Right on the home page, you can select the level of service you need, be it writing, editing, or rewriting. You then select the type of assignment you need completed, from essays to business proposals to multiple choice assignments and lab discussions.

Your quote will automatically update with each selection you make, making it super simple to know how much you'll be paying before you proceed. Their pricing is very reasonable even with the shorter deadline options.

However, students also receive a bigger discount the more pages they order. For example, a 5-page essay can be ordered with a 20% discount, while a 2-page essay has a 5% discount. So if you want to hire a cheap essay writer who is knowledgeable in your subject, EssayPro is a great option.

Just like with other essay writing services, we ordered a two-page college paper with a 6-hour delivery. Surprisingly enough, the paper cost us only $32.49, which is a lot cheaper than what we paid at WritePaperForMe ($54). We also liked the fact that after signup we were allowed to pick a writer ourselves based on their bids and reviews.

Even though the writer failed to deliver the paper in 6 hours and asked for a 30-minute deadline extension, the paper was of good quality. For this reason, we rate our experience as 8/10.

EssayPro has an average rating of 4.8/5 from over 1.5 million reviews, so you can feel quite confident that your paper will be delivered on time. EssayPro guarantees plagiarism-free papers, and includes a free originality report to prove it. They also include formatting, an essay outline, title page, and unlimited edits all for free.

Prices start at $10.80 per page

Editing and rewriting services also available

Flexible pricing

Can select the writer working on your essay

Unlimited revisions at no extra cost

#5. PaperHelp — Best for High-Level Academic Content

Ordinary essays don't require too much expertise, but things like dissertations and research papers often take a lot more effort, skill, and specialized knowledge to be done properly. For these kinds of academic assignments, PaperHelp is the best choice.

To put PaperHelp’s quality to a test, we ordered a two-page research paper to be delivered in 6 hours. We picked a basic writer (the option that doesn’t incur any extra cost) and paid $80, which is a bit expensive. However, the result surpassed our expectations. It was a medical research paper that required specific medical knowledge and understanding of niche concepts. The writer, who clearly had a strong background in medical studies, nailed the paper in 5 hours, one hour in advance. Given that $80 is quite expensive, we would rate our experience 8 out of 10 stars.

PaperHelp offers three tiers of services for students: academic writing, which provides essays and papers from scratch, editing and proofreading, which helps students improve their essays, and calculations, which helps students involved with problem solving courses like statistics.

PaperHelp also has a loyalty program designed to help students who need regular help completing their course material. Repeat customers receive special discounts that can make regular orders more affordable.

Every writer from this company has passed strict hiring processes as well as difficult grammar and writing tests. Plus, they have a proven academic background and only work on essays in their chosen field. This process ensures that you receive the highest-quality assignments.

When ordering, you can select a basic, advanced, or top writer to work on your paper. The Top writers have earned positive feedback from past clients and reliably deliver excellent quality essays.

Price per page starts at $10

Deadline options range from 2 months to 3 hours

Can select the English proficiency of your writer

24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and phone

Discounts and special deals available for new customers

How to Choose the Best Essay Writing Service

With so many essay writing services out there, it can be a challenge to find the right one for you. Unfortunately, price can't be your only criterion, otherwise you'll end up with a late or unusable paper. To prevent a poor experience, keep these 6 pieces of advice in mind when shopping around for an essay writing service:

1. Look for Expert Writers

Your essay can only be as good as your writer. Many essay writing services thoroughly vet their writers to make sure that they have the skill and experience to do a good test. They may have to pass certain tests that judge their English proficiency, subject knowledge, and writing skills.

Some companies even demand that their writers have a certain number of years of writing experience under their belt, or a certain education level. A company that uses specialized writers is your best bet since they have expertise in your field and can write your paper with authority.

2. Look for a Service That Matches Your Academic Level

When hiring a writing service, it is essential that they can match your academic level. A company that writes high school essays will not be proficient enough for a college research paper.

The service you choose should be able to match your writing style as well, whether your assignment calls for a personal admissions essay or a well-researched argumentative essay.

3. Check the Variety of Services.

Some students hire a writing service for just one essay, but if you're going to be using a writing service to manage more of your courseload, it's important that they can handle every type of assignment you'll need to order.

Most academic writing services cover the basic services like different types of essays, research papers, and editing. However, some of the better ones will offer more comprehensive services that include things like presentations, book reports, dissertations, case studies, literature reviews, and more.

4. Assess Their Customer Support

When you order an essay online, you should be able to easily contact customer support, or your writer directly, for updates. Some writing services won't have accessible customer support while others have 24/7 customer service available through multiple channels, such as an email and phone.

For best results, choose an online essay writing service that has a live chat option for instant assistance. You should be able to quickly reach a real customer support agent, before, during, and after your order is complete.

5. Check Their Offerings and Guarantees

One thing you should always look for is a money-back guarantee. Any writing service that does not offer a full refund under certain circumstances cannot be trusted. Many writing companies will also offer things like unlimited free revisions and a guarantee of a plagiarism-free essay.

Without these guarantees, your paper may flag the software your teacher or professor uses and land you in hot water for not writing an original essay, or you won't be able to get your money back if they fail to meet your requirements.

6. Look at Their History

One thing you can do to help ensure a positive outcome when hiring an unknown writing service is to check out what their past customers have to say about them. Many websites like Sitejabber and Trustpilot let you know what kind of experience and results customers have had with a certain company. Of course, this only helps when the reviews are real and accurate.

How to Find Genuine, Trustworthy Essay Writing Service Reviews

There are a few different places you can find reviews on an essay writing service. Unfortunately, not all of them are equally trustworthy. Here's how to find credible reviews on essay writing services, ranked from least to most trustworthy:

Company Websites. One place you can easily find reviews of essay writing services is right on their websites. Most companies have a section that showcases reviews or testimonials from past clients. Sometimes there may be a verified order checkmark to make you think they are legitimate reviews, but it's important to remember that the company can create those reviews themselves, or choose to share only the positive ones.

Social Media. Social media is an excellent source of information about essay writing services. These reviews are more credible since social media sites like twitter, Instagram, and facebook, allow users to share opinions freely without influence. There are also many groups for students that will recommend these types of services, and you can generally trust these recommendations.

Review Websites. The most reliable source of reviews on any company will come from a reputable review website. Sites like Sitejabber and Trustpilot compile reviews from proven users and customers of products and services. They showcase positive and negative reviews equally, and you'll be able to see an overall rating for each essay writing service.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you're looking to purchase an essay online, it's only natural that you'll have a few questions. Here are the answers to the most asked questions by students when buying an essay online from a paper writing service:

Are Essay Writing Services Legal and Safe?

Absolutely. Essay writing services are completely legal, but it's still important that you use these services in the right way. These services are designed to help students with their academic assignments, but they aren't intended to be used as a means of plagiarism.

Rather than submitting the paper you receive with your name written on it, you should instead use it as inspiration for your own paper. Rely on their sources, organizational structure, and arguments, but still develop the paper as your own. Otherwise, you're guilty of plagiarism and can get into trouble.

As for the safety of trustworthy essay writing services, you have nothing to worry about. These services understand that students need anonymity, so the order process usually keeps your identity a secret.

Plus, their payment systems are very secure so your card details cannot be viewed or stolen. Of course, you need to be careful which company you provide your information to as some are not as trustworthy as others.

Are Essay Writing Services Reliable?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no answer. It very much depends on which writing service you choose. When looking at the cheapest essay writing services available to US students, you can easily run into trouble. Some of these companies are in it to make a quick buck and don't care much about their results.

For example, some of the cheapest and fastest essay writing services are too good to be true; they advertise one thing, but often deliver unoriginal content with weak arguments, untrustworthy sources, or that don't meet your assignment requirements. In addition, many cheap writing services won't meet your desired deadline.

However, if you do your research before selecting a company and choose a reputable writing service, you can certainly trust them with your important assignment. There are several reliable companies out there that meet their deadlines, deliver high-quality services, and are easy to work with.

Do Essay Writing Services Plagiarize?

Anyone ordering an essay online from a writing service has most likely questioned their decision since plagiarism is so heavily enforced. It is one of the most serious offenses one can commit in their academic career.

People behind essay writing websites know this. So if you choose a reputable company, they will not plagiarize your assignment. Most companies will also provide a plagiarism report from a software like CopyScape, either for free or available for an extra fee, to prove that the work delivered to you is one hundred percent original.

If you're unsure which software the company uses to check their deliverables, you may want to double check the essay for yourself with trusted software.

Pro Tip: Do not use a company that uses TurnItIn software to check for plagiarism since it records all submissions and your professor will know right away that the essay has been submitted before.

Are Essay Writing Services Worth The Money?

Again, there is no definitive answer to this question. It will depend on your reasons for ordering an essay online rather than writing it yourself, as well as what you expect from the company.

There are many reasons that make spending the cash totally worth it. For example, if you're a freshman struggling to adjust to the demands of a university course, don't understand the subject material well enough to write the assignment, or have too much on your plate to fit in a 5-page essay, spending a few bucks to lighten your load and earn a high grade is certainly worth it.

Additionally, if you're one of the millions of students that work to put yourself through school, odds are you'll make more at your job in the same number of hours that it would take you to research and write the essay, so you still come out ahead of the game, especially if you use one of the above-listed cheap writing services in the United States.

However, it may not be worth it for you if you're struggling financially and still have enough time to write a well-thought-out essay before the due date. For most students, the pros heavily outweigh the cost of having a professional writer take care of your essay assignment.

Related article: https://newsdirect.com/news/best-essay-writing-services-2023-reviews-of-top-7-paper-writing-websites-935901611  

Contact Details

Liam Holland

[email protected]

I asked ChatGPT to write college admissions essays and then sent them to expert tutors to review. Read the full essays.

I asked OpenAI's ChatGPT to write some college admissions essays and sent them to two expert tutors to review. Both said the essays passed for a real student's work and might even stand up at some less-selective colleges.

Kevin Wong, Princeton University alumnus and  cofounder of tutoring service PrepMaven, told Insider he knew of some students that had been admitted to colleges with lower-quality essays than the ones I generated. Adam Nguyen, the founder of tutoring company Ivy Link , said the essays were exemplary of what a very mediocre student would produce.

Both Wong and Nguyen praised the grammar and structure of the essays and criticized the lack of personal experiences and unique feelings. Nguyen called the essays "over-predictable" and they both agreed the essays wouldn't have had a chance at any top universities. 

ChatGPT's essays were based on some old questions from the Common App , a  widely used application process across the US. At first, the chatbot said it wouldn't write the essays for me, telling me it was "important that the admissions essay reflects the applicant's own thoughts, experiences, and writing style."

However, after prompting it to give me some examples of how I could answer the questions and then asking it to write me a "specific example answer" based on one of these, it generated some full-length essays. The process took around 10 minutes. 

Here are two of the essays the tutors reviewed:

1. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

For the first essay, I asked the chatbot to write about an artistic or creative pursuit that consumes my free time and how it has allowed me to express myself. I also asked the bot to use vivid examples to illustrate the points. Here's what I got:

I have always been drawn to photography, but it wasn't until my senior year of high school that I really started to explore the art form. I signed up for a photography class on a whim, and quickly became obsessed with capturing the world around me through my lens.

What I love about photography is that it allows me to see the world in a new way. When I'm out shooting, I am constantly searching for beauty and interest in unexpected places. I find myself drawn to the interplay of light and shadow, the details that others might overlook, and the fleeting moments that can be captured and preserved forever.

As I have delved deeper into the art of photography, I have also found that it provides a powerful outlet for self-expression. Through my photos, I am able to convey my thoughts and feelings in a way that words alone cannot. When I'm behind the camera, I feel a sense of creative freedom and possibility that I haven't found in any other medium.

One project that I'm particularly proud of is a series of portraits that I took of my friends and family. I wanted to capture their personalities and essence in a way that was both honest and beautiful. I spent hours experimenting with lighting, posing, and composition to create images that felt true to who they are. When I showed them the final product, they were amazed by how I had managed to capture their essence in a single frame.

In addition to the personal satisfaction I get from creating art, I also love the way that photography allows me to connect with others. When I share my photos online or in a gallery, I am always amazed by the way that people respond to them. They see things that I might have missed, or they connect with the emotions that I was trying to convey. It's an incredible feeling to know that my art has touched someone else's life in a meaningful way.

When I want to learn more about photography, I turn to a variety of resources. I subscribe to photography magazines, follow photographers on social media, and take workshops whenever I can. But mostly, I learn by doing. I experiment with different techniques and styles, and I'm always looking for new ways to challenge myself and push my creativity to new heights.

In conclusion, photography is an artistic pursuit that consumes my free time and allows me to express myself in new and meaningful ways. Through this medium, I have discovered a new way of seeing the world, and a powerful tool for self-expression and connection.

2. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

For the second essay, I asked the chatbot to give me a specific example of failing at a project or task and learning from the experience. I didn't specify the kind of language it should use or the length.

During my junior year of high school, I was part of a team that was tasked with creating a new product for a national entrepreneurship competition. We had several months to develop the product, write a business plan, and create a pitch to present to a panel of judges. However, we underestimated the amount of time and resources we needed and ended up rushing through the final stages of the project.

As a result, our pitch was poorly prepared, and we didn't do well in the competition. I was devastated at the time, as I had invested a lot of time and effort into the project. However, I decided to take a step back and reflect on what went wrong.

I realized that our team lacked effective communication and project management skills. We didn't delegate tasks effectively, and we didn't set clear goals or timelines. I also realized that I had a tendency to take on too much responsibility and not ask for help when I needed it.

To address these issues, I decided to take a project management course and read books on effective teamwork and communication. I also started practicing delegation and setting clearer goals and timelines for myself and my team.

The following year, I participated in the same entrepreneurship competition with a new team. This time, we were much more organized and prepared, and we ended up winning first place at the regional level. This experience taught me the importance of effective communication, project management, and learning from failure.

writing a college paper

A photo of a student drafting their college application essay on a laptop computer.

How to write a college essay that wows admissions officers.

Craft an application essay or personal statement that stands out.


How to begin writing your college essay

How to format your college essay and what to include

How to make any college essay shine

What should a college essay have?

How to begin writing your college essay.

Test scores matter. High school extracurricular activities matter too. But a great college application essay can be the thing that puts your application over the top. (It can also give you good practice for writing cover letters for future internships and jobs.) With your essay, you can show the admissions committee who you are, how you think, what you’re capable of, and how lucky their school would be to have an interesting person like you in attendance.

A student writing their personal statement for a college admissions application.

Start early.

A college personal statement is not a night-before kind of assignment. If you have more free time in the summer between your junior and senior year than you do when school is in session, spend some of that time brainstorming and then drafting your essay. The best essay writing comes out of multiple drafts — even the best writers don’t get it right the first time — so give yourself plenty of time to choose from the many college essay topics and start writing the first draft. Then you’ll have time to revise those words into an engaging story before the submission deadline. 

Be yourself.

Whether you’re filling out the common application, which works for over 1,000 colleges, or college-specific applications, check out the essay prompts and choose one that speaks to you or makes you think of something you’re passionate about. All of the common application prompts ask you to talk about yourself, your life experience, or a person close to you. No matter which you choose, think about what others might be interested to learn about you.

Answer some questions.

If you’re still stuck, search for college essay examples online and read a few to get a sense of what works. You can also try writing down your answers to the following questions: What’s your favorite activity? What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done or your biggest failure? How did you deal with it? Did the experience help develop your hard or soft skills ? Who has influenced you the most in your life?

Trust that you can do it.

You don’t have to be a great writer to write a great college essay. Yes, you should avoid typos or grammatical mistakes, but the best essays aren’t about showing off amazing writing skills. They’re about revealing aspects of the applicant that grades and test scores don’t capture. Be sure to speak in your own voice (don’t try to squeeze in all of your SAT words) and avoid repeating information that’s already present in other parts of your application. 

A photo of students in a classroom working together.

How to format your college essay and what to include.

Once you have some ideas written down, you can think about structure. Pay attention to word count. The sweet spot for a college admissions essay is somewhere between 500 and 650 words, which gives you just enough room to show who you are and what you think.

Keep the formatting clean.

Stick to the college’s guidelines. You don’t need a title, but you should make sure your paragraphs are indented and your lines are double-spaced. Avoid using italics or bold font, which may not show up if you’re submitting your essay in a text box online.

If you plan to submit your essay as an attachment, the font should be 12-point Times New Roman. The lines should be double-spaced, and the margins should be one inch all the way around. Number each page in the header or footer with your last name and the page number.

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Tell a single story.

If there’s one specific event or experience you want to cover in your college admissions essay, focus on that. Consider the most important parts — the necessary details — and include only those. Try to be specific and clear in your descriptions. Ask yourself if it makes sense to start at the beginning, or if you want to create a little suspense by starting at the point of greatest tension. Then catch your readers up on what they need to know before you resolve the tension.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of room to explain what you did to overcome the obstacle or meet the challenge, and to reflect on the significance of the experience for you. What did you learn? How did it change you? It helps if your conclusion subtly demonstrates that you’re a thoughtful, kind, community-oriented person who would make a great classmate.

Build on a theme.

Maybe there isn’t a single narrative you want to follow. Instead, you want to offer a thesis and back it up with examples or share a few anecdotes that you tie together at the end. You can write about the most influential people in your life and how they shaped you, or maybe you pursue an unusual extracurricular activity you can write about in a way that illuminates your personality, passions, and goals.

In these types of essays, demonstrate how you think, the connections you can make between seemingly unrelated concepts, the meaning that you make out of your own life, and what you hope for the future. Here, your reflection will do most of the work.

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How to make any college essay shine.

These tips can help you improve your admissions essay and get into your dream school, but they can also help you improve any type of writing project.

1. Read it out loud.

When you read your writing out loud, you catch clunky phrases, run-on sentences, and typos. If you can read it out loud without getting tripped up, your readers will be able to sail through it too.

2. Share it with people.

Whether you reach out to family members, friends, or a favorite teacher, get feedback from people you trust. They might spot something you missed or suggest an opportunity to expand or draw a connection you hadn’t thought of. You can share your essay with your readers by converting to PDF and sharing with a link or by email. Your readers can add comments right in the document, and you can even add deadlines for the procrastinators. 

3. Revise and proofread.

Take a couple of days to consider the feedback you get from your readers. (Sometimes our first reactions are defensive, but the next day we may see the logic in other points of view.) Take the feedback that makes sense to you — you can annotate the PDF yourself — and leave the rest. Before you give it the final proofread, let your essay sit for a day or two. You may catch any last typos or formatting issues you missed the last time.

4. Convert the final version to PDF.

Once you’ve proofread it one more time, you can convert your essay to PDF to submit as an attachment. With a PDF, you can be sure your formatting will stay consistent no matter who’s reading your essay or what device or software they’re using.

Take Acrobat with you to college. And take a deep breath.

If your new college offers Creative Cloud for students, you can download Acrobat Pro and use all the premium tools. College students use Acrobat Pro to compress PDFs to make large files easier to share, convert files to or from PDF, collaborate on group projects, and split PDFs to share specific sections.

The college application process can be stressful and competitive. Just remember that, as your personal essay probably demonstrates, you’re resilient and brave, you have a sharp mind and a big heart, and you’re going to do great things. Enjoy your school experience, because before you know it, you’ll find yourself wondering   what to do after college .

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How to Write a College Essay | A Complete Guide & Examples

The college essay can make or break your application. It’s your chance to provide personal context, communicate your values and qualities, and set yourself apart from other students.

A standout essay has a few key ingredients:

To achieve this, it’s crucial to give yourself enough time for brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.

In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through every step in the process of writing a college admissions essay.

Table of contents

Why do you need a standout essay, start organizing early, choose a unique topic, outline your essay, start with a memorable introduction, write like an artist, craft a strong conclusion, revise and receive feedback, frequently asked questions.

While most of your application lists your academic achievements, your college admissions essay is your opportunity to share who you are and why you’d be a good addition to the university.

Your college admissions essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s total weight一and may account for even more with some colleges making the SAT and ACT tests optional. The college admissions essay may be the deciding factor in your application, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.

What do colleges look for in an essay?

Admissions officers want to understand your background, personality, and values to get a fuller picture of you beyond your test scores and grades. Here’s what colleges look for in an essay :

It’s a good idea to start organizing your college application timeline in the summer of your junior year to make your application process easier. This will give you ample time for essay brainstorming, writing, revision, and feedback.

While timelines will vary for each student, aim to spend at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing your first draft and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Remember to leave enough time for breaks in between each writing and editing stage.

Create an essay tracker sheet

If you’re applying to multiple schools, you will have to juggle writing several essays for each one. We recommend using an essay tracker spreadsheet to help you visualize and organize the following:

You can build your own essay tracker using our free Google Sheets template.

College essay tracker template

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Ideally, you should start brainstorming college essay topics the summer before your senior year. Keep in mind that it’s easier to write a standout essay with a unique topic.

If you want to write about a common essay topic, such as a sports injury or volunteer work overseas, think carefully about how you can make it unique and personal. You’ll need to demonstrate deep insight and write your story in an original way to differentiate it from similar essays.

What makes a good topic?

Brainstorming questions

You should do a comprehensive brainstorm before choosing your topic. Here are a few questions to get started:

How to identify your topic

Here are two strategies for identifying a topic that demonstrates your values:

After choosing your topic, organize your ideas in an essay outline , which will help keep you focused while writing. Unlike a five-paragraph academic essay, there’s no set structure for a college admissions essay. You can take a more creative approach, using storytelling techniques to shape your essay.

Two common approaches are to structure your essay as a series of vignettes or as a single narrative.

Vignettes structure

The vignette, or montage, structure weaves together several stories united by a common theme. Each story should demonstrate one of your values or qualities and conclude with an insight or future outlook.

This structure gives the admissions officer glimpses into your personality, background, and identity, and shows how your qualities appear in different areas of your life.

Topic: Museum with a “five senses” exhibit of my experiences

Single story structure

The single story, or narrative, structure uses a chronological narrative to show a student’s character development over time. Some narrative essays detail moments in a relatively brief event, while others narrate a longer journey spanning months or years.

Single story essays are effective if you have overcome a significant challenge or want to demonstrate personal development.

Topic: Sports injury helps me learn to be a better student and person

Brainstorm creative insights or story arcs

Regardless of your essay’s structure, try to craft a surprising story arc or original insights, especially if you’re writing about a common topic.

Never exaggerate or fabricate facts about yourself to seem interesting. However, try finding connections in your life that deviate from cliché storylines and lessons.

Admissions officers read thousands of essays each year, and they typically spend only a few minutes reading each one. To get your message across, your introduction , or hook, needs to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read more..

Avoid starting your introduction with a famous quote, cliché, or reference to the essay itself (“While I sat down to write this essay…”).

While you can sometimes use dialogue or a meaningful quotation from a close family member or friend, make sure it encapsulates your essay’s overall theme.

Find an original, creative way of starting your essay using the following two methods.

Option 1: Start with an intriguing hook

Begin your essay with an unexpected statement to pique the reader’s curiosity and compel them to carefully read your essay. A mysterious introduction disarms the reader’s expectations and introduces questions that can only be answered by reading more.

Option 2: Start with vivid imagery

Illustrate a clear, detailed image to immediately transport your reader into your memory. You can start in the middle of an important scene or describe an object that conveys your essay’s theme.

A college application essay allows you to be creative in your style and tone. As you draft your essay, try to use interesting language to enliven your story and stand out .

Show, don’t tell

“Tell” in writing means to simply state a fact: “I am a basketball player.” “ Show ” in writing means to use details, examples, and vivid imagery to help the reader easily visualize your memory: “My heart races as I set up to shoot一two seconds, one second一and score a three-pointer!”

First, reflect on every detail of a specific image or scene to recall the most memorable aspects.

Be vulnerable to create an emotional response

You don’t have to share a huge secret or traumatic story, but you should dig deep to express your honest feelings, thoughts, and experiences to evoke an emotional response. Showing vulnerability demonstrates humility and maturity. However, don’t exaggerate to gain sympathy.

Use appropriate style and tone

Make sure your essay has the right style and tone by following these guidelines:

You should end your college essay with a deep insight or creative ending to leave the reader with a strong final impression. Your college admissions essay should avoid the following:

Here are two strategies to craft a strong conclusion.

Option 1: Full circle, sandwich structure

The full circle, or sandwich, structure concludes the essay with an image, idea, or story mentioned in the introduction. This strategy gives the reader a strong sense of closure.

In the example below, the essay concludes by returning to the “museum” metaphor that the writer opened with.

Option 2: Revealing your insight

You can use the conclusion to show the insight you gained as a result of the experiences you’ve described. Revealing your main message at the end creates suspense and keeps the takeaway at the forefront of your reader’s mind.

Revise your essay before submitting it to check its content, style, and grammar. Get feedback from no more than two or three people.

It’s normal to go through several rounds of revision, but take breaks between each editing stage.

Also check out our college essay examples to see what does and doesn’t work in an essay and the kinds of changes you can make to improve yours.

Respect the word count

Most schools specify a word count for each essay , and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit.

Remain under the specified word count limit to show you can write concisely and follow directions. However, don’t write too little, which may imply that you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.

Check your content, style, and grammar

Get feedback

Get feedback from 2–3 people who know you well, have good writing skills, and are familiar with college essays.

The checklist below helps you make sure your essay ticks all the boxes.

College admissions essay checklist

I’ve organized my essay prompts and created an essay writing schedule.

I’ve done a comprehensive brainstorm for essay topics.

I’ve selected a topic that’s meaningful to me and reveals something different from the rest of my application.

I’ve created an outline to guide my structure.

I’ve crafted an introduction containing vivid imagery or an intriguing hook that grabs the reader’s attention.

I’ve written my essay in a way that shows instead of telling.

I’ve shown positive traits and values in my essay.

I’ve demonstrated self-reflection and insight in my essay.

I’ve used appropriate style and tone .

I’ve concluded with an insight or a creative ending.

I’ve revised my essay , checking my overall message, flow, clarity, and grammar.

I’ve respected the word count , remaining within 10% of the upper word limit.


It looks like your essay ticks all the boxes. A second pair of eyes can help you take it to the next level – Scribbr's essay coaches can help.

Colleges want to be able to differentiate students who seem similar on paper. In the college application essay , they’re looking for a way to understand each applicant’s unique personality and experiences.

Your college essay accounts for about 25% of your application’s weight. It may be the deciding factor in whether you’re accepted, especially for competitive schools where most applicants have exceptional grades, test scores, and extracurricular track records.

A standout college essay has several key ingredients:

While timelines will differ depending on the student, plan on spending at least 1–3 weeks brainstorming and writing the first draft of your college admissions essay , and at least 2–4 weeks revising across multiple drafts. Don’t forget to save enough time for breaks between each writing and editing stage.

You should already begin thinking about your essay the summer before your senior year so that you have plenty of time to try out different topics and get feedback on what works.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.

You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.

If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

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150+ Persuasive Speech Topics To Win Your Audience’s Attention

So, guys, your mind is stuck in books and the internet. Right? We knew finding convincing speech topics took work. You spent all day and night searching for one, but you failed. Yes, that’s true, especially when students need to do many things in one go. 

But, thanks to our professional writers , you have nothing to worry about. We will make your day with compelling speech topics to give you a smooth sail in no time. So let’s start working.

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Students, these are the most common and easiest compelling speech topics you can use in your assignments. Are you still facing difficulties? We suggest using a college paper writing service to end this lengthy and tiresome work.

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Interesting Persuasive Speech Topics For College Students

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Students, we know you guys are impressed with these persuasive speeches. We already give you many choices to choose a persuasive topic. The rest is on you to start the writing process.

We’ve done it. Students, you wanted top persuasive speech topics, and we delivered them to your doorstep. Now get ready to impress your class with a compelling presentation that ensures top grades. If you’re still trembling, order now and get the best assignment discount.

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How to Write a College Paper

How to write a college paper.

When you’re going to make a college paper, or it’s your idea to make a publication for a journal or newspaper, you won’t just take a pen and start writing immediately. It’s just because it would be very hard to concentrate on many thoughts and keep your writing well-structured and well-organized, making the whole paper interesting for the audience.

The experienced writers suggest preparing for making a college research paper very accurately and thoroughly. During writing, it’s important to identify some important stages that will help you to create a bright and successful document to impress your readers. Do you need to know how to create your work step-by-step? Don’t forget to plan your time and follow this guide thoroughly to make a successful and bright paper.

What is a College Paper?

A college paper is a document created by students that should include research and be about 20 pages in length or even longer. Needless to say that a writing process requires a pile of time, skills, and patience, so you should be prepared for a long work that is worth the result. Follow our simple college paper tips to complete your document successfully.

Types of College Papers

When you are studying in a college, your teachers will require writing various college papers. Needless to say, this is not simple work that requires a lot of time, patience, and skills. There are many types of papers, including term papers, reports, essays, research papers, dissertations, literature reviews, and many others.

College Paper Outline

When students write their papers in college, teachers require them to put ideas on the paper as well as structure the information properly. This advice shouldn’t be neglected, so try to spend enough time on creating a good outline for your future paper, and you will see how easy it would be to keep all information well-structured, gather all ideas properly, put all your thoughts on the paper logically, and support all main ideas with strong evidence.

Why is it so important to start your work with a good outline?

College Paper Outline Example

You need to remember that your outline should include three main parts: a beginning, the main part, and the conclusion. It’s easy to browse the internet and find some good examples of outlines to create your plan for future writing.

How to Start a College Paper

If you want to create a bright work to bring you a high grade, you need to define the main thought of your paper in one the one-two sentences. Make your idea clear and understandable for your readers and remember to avoid jargon and complex words here.

College Paper Introduction

The introduction should present your paper to the readers. Remember that people will decide if they should read the entire work after reading this paragraph, so you should make a hook here to involve your audience. Your thesis statement should be written in the part too. If you have got difficulties writing the introduction, you can read some successful samples online or use help from our essay writing service.

How to Structure a College Paper

You can use this simple outline to create the document:

College Paper Body

This part should be separated into several paragraphs that should explain, describe, or prove your thesis. Here you have to put your ideas and support them with good evidence. Make sure each paragraph contains one idea. If you have got problems with writing the introduction, you may write the body part first, and then come back to the beginning.

How to End a College Paper

Remember that you have to create an assertive conclusion. Don’t be repetitive here, just finish your work logically and summarize all paragraphs you have written. There is no need to make this paragraph too long, just wrap up your work shortly and make the needed logical connections.

College Paper Conclusion

The final part of your paper should end your essay logically. Here you should restate your thesis and finish the essay properly. There are several ways to finish your work: you can call readers to action, make them feel particular emotions, or even add some irony. When you are writing an essay, it’s useful to read samples written by other people.

How to Write a College Paper Step by Step

When you are making an essay, it’s important to understand the entire process of writing: where you should start and how you should end the work. Needless to say that any essay must have a good structure to be logical and interesting to the audience. Your paper should be written with a certain aim, so you need a clear plan about creating it. If you want to write a bright document, follow the detailed instructions below.

Step 1 – Analyze the Question and Define Key Terms

Try to figure out the future topic of your college paper (if your teacher didn’t provide it), and define what your essay will be about in general. When you are choosing a topic, try to select a field you are interested in. Your work’s thesis statement is the main idea of the entire work. You should define it and put it at the beginning of your paper.

Step 2 – Research the Topic

Look for sources (library, Internet, magazines, newspapers, books, articles, etc.) and find as much as possible information about the chosen topic. Take notes from your readings, this will help you find all the needed information when you will start writing your work. Mark sources that seem reliable for your work to use in your paper later.

Step 3 – Write an Outline to Organize Your Ideas

The outline is a detailed plan of your work. Thanks to it, you won’t forget anything important, plus your paper will be well-organized and logical. If you have no idea how to write a college term paper, start from the outline. When it is prepared, write a first draft. According to standards, your work should consist of the next parts: introduction, body part, and conclusion.

Step 4 – Edit Your Work

Set the draft aside for a day or two, then re-read and make changes. Don’t be in a hurry with editing, because your brain and your eyes must rest from the work you already did. Have some rest and then look at your work with a refreshed view. Have a friend/parent/colleague read it. This is a good practice to notice errors you didn’t find. Sometimes a fresh view from another person could help you improve your work.

Step 5 – Complete Your Final Draft

Complete or finalize your references and citations . Make sure you have organized them correctly according to your teacher’s requirements and recommendations. Your work is ready to be checked by the teacher or professor. If you did everything according to our instructions, you have good chances to get the highest grade!

7 Amazing College Paper Tips

If you need more clear tips on how to write a college research paper, follow the hints below. We hope these short and clear tips will be useful for you in writing this document properly.

Write About Something Very Important

When choosing a topic, try to select something that had a great impact on your life. Whether it’s a story about your favorite book or an exciting essay telling the readers about some interesting moments from your experience, you should describe the most bright episodes. Don’t even try to write about boring things – your work won’t seem interesting and you’d have no chances to win.

Try to Think Clear When Writing

Sometimes people write messed up things just because they have messed up thoughts. Learn to think clearly when you’re going to say something. Clarify your thoughts and always ask yourself these questions: “What?”, “Who?”, “Where?”, “Why?”, “When?”. Clear answers will help you to write more clearly about those things you want to explain to your readers.

Be Well-Organized

It’s very easy to get confused with so many ideas you may have. Gather all your ideas on paper and keep them well-structured. This means you have to group all information by sections. Here you can use creativity and imagination, to create spider-charts and use colorful stickers and bins. With this method, you can make a logical map of any idea you want to write about.

Plan Your Work

When you are going to write, don’t start without a clear plan. Think about the main goal of our work and define your future audience. Decide what kind of information you have to give your readers and figure out the best way to do it. Outline your work and start writing following your college paper guidelines.

Make a Good Research

After you choose a topic, try to research it as much as possible, so you will get familiar with the subject. While collecting and analyzing all received data, make some visual things that would be helpful, like graphs, tables, charts, etc. Remember you should use only reliable sources.

Make Many Drafts

Don’t expect your work to be perfect from the first attempt. Remember that all professional writers make drafts and revise them many times. You will have to rewrite your first draft as many times as your final article will be better.

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It’s not a simple issue to create a good outline and to write a successful work, so many people may feel unsure to create their document properly. If for some reason you don’t have enough free time to prepare a great paper, then why struggle? If you have no idea how to write a college paper format, you can just order a brilliant paper from our professional paper writer service!

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How to Write a Killer College Essay – Guide

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The college admission essay is the key component of your application. It gives the admissions committee a deeper personal understanding of you which can help you get accepted. 

The person in charge will most likely read hundreds of essays during the admissions cycle, all of which address similar topics, so naturally, you’ll want your essay to stand out. Keep reading to learn how to write a college essay that will help you get into your dream college. 

Start Early

Starting early is one of the first tips for writing a good college essay. At school, it is common for students to turn in assignments late, even though not preferable. College admission essay deadlines, however, should not be missed at any cost. 

Starting earlier allows you to go through it many more times. One draft is never enough. You should give yourself more time to experiment, edit, ask for feedback, and finalize it. 

Having your college essay completed in advance also enhances your confidence that you’re sending a quality piece of writing and lets you focus on other areas of submitting your application.

Read the Application Essay Guidelines Carefully

Before you start with anything, always make sure to really go through the guidelines; don’t just skim through them. Every step will tell what you should or shouldn’t include. So, take your time to read the guidelines in detail because there is a good chance they won’t even read your application if they notice you have not followed the guidelines. 

Once you are confident that you know what rules have been set, you are ready to start exploring a topic that will mesmerize everyone!

Create a Plan For Your Essay


Creating a plan is a must for a successful essay; this will help you immensely when you actually start writing your essay. A proper essay plan will make you feel more organized and less stressed throughout the process. 

Brainstorm your topic ideas

Your topic is most definitely one of the most critical parts of the essay, so choosing the right one is always challenging. A simple trick is to list as many topics as possible for a set period. Don’t cringe at your ideas, and don’t underestimate them at this point. They can easily be transformed in the future and can become of great potential. 

If you have no idea how to write a college essay about yourself, ask your parents or people who know you best about what they find alluring about you. Think of a time when you stood up to something you never thought you would, a good trait of yours, a skill or talent. And use the power of language to compel everyone with your writing skills!

Pick a topic

After listing everything you got, go through the ideas and eliminate those you think can’t be widened into a good writing piece. Pick something that the guidelines given in the instruction part can support. If the guidelines state a small word count, don’t choose a topic you can address in ten to fifteen pages. Instead, choose something you can elaborate on according to the word count and other instructions. 

Brainstorm details to support your topic

Don’t make the mistake of writing a superficial essay! Brainstorming details to support your topic will help deepen your focus, resulting in a much better-written piece.

More specifically, you can consider the following: 

You can go more in-depth as long as the details are related to your topic. 

Organize everything into an outline format

If you have your mind set on the topic, the next step is starting the real deal. Creating an outline will help you put your ideas in place. Your outline can go as follows:

It would be best to start with something that grabs the reader’s attention. After your reader is engaged, put relevant background information the reader should know. Finally, work on the thesis statement that presents your main point.

In this part, you should elaborate on your topic in depth. The paragraphs are limited to the word count. Try to be as precise as you can. Elaborate on the details by giving relevant examples for each one of them. 

In the end, remind the reader what all this was about by echoing your thesis statement. Summarize your main points and end the essay with a beautiful and memorable line.

Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction


The power of a strong, memorable, and attention-grabbing line or opening is unmatched. The introduction determines whether the reader will be devoted to the rest of the essay or simply skim through it. So, be wise and playful with words to make it outstanding. 

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If you feel stuck in this phase, focus on the other parts of the essay; you can always return to the introduction later and make the necessary modifications.

Use Your Voice And Let Your Personality Shine

The point of this essay is for the admission to get to know you more. That’s why you should remain true to yourself and what you’re describing. You can get inspired by others but be careful not to lose your voice and originality.

Be yourself, showcase your skills, and don’t go overboard with jokes because not everyone has the same sense of humor.

Stay Focused on Your Message

Remember that you are given a limited number of words to express yourself in the best way possible. Every word counts. Stick to the details you have listed when brainstorming, and don’t confuse the reader with unnecessary information because they can easily get lost. 

Steer Clear of Clichés

Research other essays to see what you like or dislike. If you come across phrases that have been overly used, avoid them at all costs. The person in charge has gone through most of them, and you don’t want them to get bored. So make sure to show them that you’re creative and original.

Edit, Edit, Edit

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of editing and revising. Always start with a draft and return after giving it some rest. Let your brain rest and go back to it with a fresh perspective. Do this until you’re certain your essay is perfect and there is no need to make any other changes. 

Ask Someone to Proofread Your College Essay   

When writing a college essay, you should consider the audience. After having it ready, have someone read it carefully and ask for their feedback. They can notice things you did not, which will help you improve and finalize your essay. Always welcome feedback, even if it’s not sugarcoated.

The college essay helps you to impress admissions by demonstrating who you are and what you can bring to the table. It is your opportunity to demonstrate originality, depth, and unique creativity. In this article, we tried to emphasize its importance along with the best tips you can get to write a killer essay. Remember to start broad, brainstorm, and explore until you have found something that has meaning for you. Once you begin the writing process, the key is to stay focused and organized. Simply take each of the steps mentioned above into consideration, and you will get the best results. 

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How to Write a College Application Essay

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Your essay reveals something important about you that your grades and test scores can't─your personality. It can give admissions officers a sense of who you are and showcase your writing ability. Here are some things that admissions officers look for in a personal essay for college.

1. Open Strong.

Knowing how to start a college essay can create a strong opening paragraph that immediately captures the reader’s interest. You want to make the admissions officer reading your essay curious about what you say next.

2. Show You Can Write.

Colleges want to see that you have a command of the basics of good writing, which is a key component of success in college.

3. Answer the Prompt.

Admissions officers also want to see that the student can give a direct answer while sticking to a comprehensive narrative. When writing college essays, consider the point you want to make and develop a fleshed-out response that fits the prompt. Avoid force-fitting prewritten pieces. Approach every personal essay prompt as if it's your first.

4. Stick to Your Style.

Writing college essays isn't about using flowery or verbose prose. Avoid leaning too heavily on the thesaurus to sound impressive. Choose a natural writing style that’s appropriate for the subject matter.

Also, avoid stressing about trying to write what you think colleges want to see. Learning how to draft a good essay for college is about showcasing who you are. Stay true to your voice. Keep in mind that authenticity is more important than anything else.

5. Proofread.

Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling are essential. Proofread several times after you've finished. Then ask a teacher, parent, or college English major to give it a quick read as well.

6. Keep Track of Length.

Finally, admissions officers value succinctness. Remember to pay attention to the recommended essay length or word count.

Bonus Tips and College Essay Writing Help

For more on how to write a college essay, check out these Tips for Writing Your College Admissions Essay .

What is the college application essay?

A personal essay for college applications is an opportunity for admission admissions panels to get more insight into who you are and what you have to offer. It's often the most personal component of the application, going beyond grades and standardized test scores. Essays usually have open-ended prompts, allowing you to flex your writing skills and make a personal statement.

Does my college application essay really matter?

Learning how to write a successful essay for college is crucial. This essay's exact weight on your chances of acceptance varies from one school to the next. But it's an element of your application that all admissions teams consider. Your essay could be the thing that gets you off a waiting list or gives you a competitive edge over other applicants.

What are colleges looking for in my application essay?

Knowing what to include in a college essay is half the battle. Admissions teams look for many things, but the most influential are authenticity, writing ability, character details, and positive traits. The purpose of the essay is to shed light on your background and gain perspective on your real-world experiences.

When should I start writing my college essay?

Because you'll want to tailor each application to each school, expect to write multiple personal essays. Advisers typically recommend starting these pieces during the summer before your senior year of high school. This will give you ample time to concentrate on writing a college essay before you're hit with schoolwork.

What can I do to write an effective college essay if I'm not a strong writer?

Good writing skills matter, but the best college essay is about the quality of your response. Authentic stories in a natural voice have impact. The story you want to tell about yourself will work better for you if it’s told in language that’s not overly sophisticated. Work with a writing coach for help with the academic aspects. Make responding with substance a priority.

How can I write my college essay if I have no monumental experiences?

You don't need life-changing moments to impress an admissions panel. Think about your personal experiences. Describe moments that left a lasting impact. The important thing is to have a fleshed-out narrative that provides insight into your life and way of thinking. Some of the best essays revolve around meaningful moments rather than flashy ones.

How should I start brainstorming topics for my college essay?

Most colleges provide open-ended prompts. Using the topic as inspiration, think about critical milestones or essential lessons you learned during your academic career. Tell stories about real-life experiences that have shaped the person you are. Write them down to brainstorm ideas. Choose stories that highlight your best traits.

What is a good list of essay topics to start with? What essay topics should I avoid?

Good topics when writing college essays include personal achievements, meaningful lessons, life-changing challenges, and situations that fostered personal growth. It's best to avoid anything too intimate or controversial. You want to open up, but it's not a good idea to go overboard or alienate members of the admissions panel.

What format should I use for my college essay?

Read the prompt and essay instructions thoroughly to learn how to start off a college essay. Some colleges provide guidance about formatting. If not, the best course of action is to stick with a college standard like the MLA format.

How long should my essay be?

The average length of a personal essay for college is 400─600 words. Always read the prompt. Follow the instructions provided in the application.

Who should I ask to review my college essay?

Turn to your school counselor for review. They understand what college admissions panels are looking for, and they can provide valuable insight into your piece's quality. You can also reach out to English teachers and other educators for proofreading.

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Gymnast Dunne’s AI spot raises questions about NIL ethics

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne’s endorsement of an artificial intelligence essay-writing product is raising questions about whether college athletic programs should provide clearer ethical guidelines for athletes earning money from name, image and likeness contracts.

“It does seem problematic to have people sort of promoting plagiarism,” said John Basl, a philosophy professor at Northeastern University in Boston who specializes in AI and data ethics, and who also is a faculty affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society.

“It does seem like something colleges should teach students not to do,” Basl added.

Dunne’s endorsement of a Caktus.AI product appeared recently in the form of a 10-second video post on social media sites including TikTok and YouTube.

Dunne does not speak in the video, but a written quotation representing her thinking states: “Need to get my creativity flowing for an essay due at midnight.”

The video then shows Dunne on her laptop as a program takes a few key words about why gymnastics is “the hardest sport” and almost instantaneously produces numerous paragraphs of text on the subject.

It closes with Dunne delivering an emphatic “thumbs up” gesture.

LSU declined to comment on Dunne’s post, but did provide a written statement urging that students use caution with such technologies — and warning that they can be sanctioned for misusing it.

“Technology, including AI, can foster learning and creativity. At LSU, our professors and students are empowered to use technology for learning and pursuing the highest standards of academic integrity,” the LSU statement read. “However, using AI to produce work that a student then represents as one’s own could result in a charge of academic misconduct.”

While Basl agreed with LSU’s statement, he also said he could foresee colleges increasingly frowning on athletes promoting new technologies in ways which neglect to emphasize the importance of using such products responsibly.

In the case of Dunne’s post, Basl said, “The implicature of the 10 seconds is: Here’s an easy-peasy way to write an essay.”

“It’s almost like if a student said, ‘I get drunk and get home using my Tesla’s autopilot,’ or something like that,” Basl continued. “So, it would be appropriate for LSU to say it would not approve of its athletes endorsing the unethical use of these tools.”

Jake Kasper, assistant director for Michigan State’s office of student support and accountability, said it’s a mistake for educators or schools to look at AI and say, “This is horrific.’ I think there’s things that we need to consider when it comes to artificial intelligence, is how can it be a tool for learning.”

“I would question whether or not artificial intelligence is the best product to endorse, because there is a concern — from institutions of higher education, there’s a concern that artificial intelligence will hinder the ability to learn, to grow, to develop as human beings,” Kasper added. “I’m not saying that student-athletes endorsing it is saying, ‘Don’t learn.’ So there’s obviously a lot more to discuss and uncover there.”

Dunne’s social media following numbers around 7 million on TikTok and more than 3 million on Instagram. The 20-year-old from Hillsdale, New Jersey, is believed to have the largest social media audience of any NCAA athlete. Her NIL endorsement contracts, while not public, are estimated by multiple analysts who track such deals to be worth more than $3 million.

While Dunne was a 2021 WCGA All-American on uneven bars and has highlighted her gymnastics performances on social media, her success and fame as an influencer has begun to eclipse that of her athletic career.

During a meet at Utah earlier this season, a loud, charged-up throng of mostly young men showed up and called constantly for Dunne, who was not competing at the time because of an injury. Video from the scene, which some fellow competitors and other witnesses found unseemly, was widely viewed online. Dunne responded by posting a request on her social media accounts that fans be respectful of the other gymnasts at her meets.

LSU, meanwhile, arranged for additional security for Dunne at subsequent events.

LSU deferred interview requests for Dunne to her marketing agent, Ginger Chan of William Morris-Endeavor (WME). Through Chan, Dunne declined to speak with The Associated Press.

Dunne recently returned to competition at Alabama, scoring 9.825 on an uneven bars routine in which she stuck the landing. The performance helped LSU win the meet.

Dunne was not on the U.S. national squad at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and is not expected to contend for a spot at the 2024 Games in Paris. She is a junior at LSU, meaning she could choose to compete again next season.

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