How to Write a College Application Essay

Applying for college can be a nerve-wracking experience. There are forms to fill out, interviews to prepare for, and an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle: the college admissions essay. This essay is your chance to make a great first impression on the admissions committee and set yourself apart from other applicants. But how do you write an essay that truly reflects who you are?

This guide will walk you through the process of how to write a college admission essay, from understanding the purpose of the essay to polishing the final draft.

Purpose of College Admission Essays

So, why do colleges ask for an essay? The primary reason is that it gives them a more comprehensive picture of you as an individual. It’s your opportunity to showcase your personality, character, and values and to explain how these have shaped your life experiences.

It allows you to tell your story in your own words. It’s also a chance for colleges to evaluate your communication skills, including your ability to write clearly, cogently, and effectively.

Join Our 10k Happy Nursing Students

  • Get original papers written according to your instructions.
  • Save time for what matters most.

How to Structure a College Admission Essay

The structure of your great college personal statement can significantly impact its readability and effectiveness. A well-structured essay will have a clear flow of ideas and arguments, making it easier for the reader to understand your points. Let’s delve deeper into how to structure your essay:


A title can set the stage for your essay and pique the reader’s interest. It’s like a doorway to your story, giving a hint about what lies inside. A great title should:

Be catchy: An engaging title can immediately draw the reader in.

Reflect on your essay’s content: While it should be interesting, ensure that your title isn’t misleading. It should accurately reflect the theme or central idea of your essay.

Be concise: A succinct, powerful title often has a greater impact than a long, convoluted one.

For instance, for an essay about a transformative volunteering experience, a title like “Finding My Purpose in a Peruvian Village” could be effective.

Number of Paragraphs

While there’s no strict rule for the number of paragraphs your essay should have, it’s essential to ensure your essay is well-organized and coherent. A typical structure might include:

Introduction: This sets the tone for your long or short essay, introduces your topic, and includes your thesis statement.

Body paragraphs: These form the bulk of your essay. Each paragraph should focus on an idea or point supporting your overall argument or narrative. You might have 2-3 or more body paragraphs depending on your essay’s length.

Conclusion: This wraps up your essay, summarizing your main points and reinforcing your thesis. It’s your final chance to leave an impression on the reader.

Remember, each paragraph should flow logically into the next, maintaining a consistent narrative throughout your essay.

Essay Templates

Using an essay template can help you maintain structure and coherence. Here’s a basic template you could use:


Hook: Grab the reader's attention.

Context: Provide background information.

Thesis: State the main point or argument of your essay.

Body Paragraphs

Topic Sentence: Introduce the main idea of the paragraph.

Evidence: Support your point with facts, examples, or anecdotes.

Analysis: Explain how the evidence supports your thesis.

Transition: Lead smoothly into the next paragraph.


Summary: Recap your main points.

Restatement of Thesis: Reiterate your thesis in light of the evidence you've provided.

Closing thoughts: End with a final, impactful thought.

While templates can be helpful, don’t let them limit your creativity or personal voice. Your essay should still be distinctly yours.

How to Pick Your Essay Topic

Choosing an essay topic is a critical step in the process of writing a college admissions essay. The topic you choose can set the tone for the entire essay and greatly influence how your application is perceived. Let’s examine some potential prompts that could inspire your essay:

Prompt #1: Share Your Story

This prompt invites you to tell a personal story that isn’t apparent from the rest of your application. It could be an experience, a moment, or an event that significantly impacted you. This is an opportunity to showcase your individuality and provide insight into who you are beyond your grades and test scores. Think about the experiences that have shaped your personality, values, and aspirations.

Prompt #2: Learning From Obstacles

Life’s challenges and how we respond to them often define us. This prompt asks you to reflect on a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. More importantly, it’s about how you responded to that situation, what you learned from it, and how it influenced your growth as a person. Remember, the focus is not on the obstacle itself but on your resilience and capacity for growth.

Prompt #3: Challenging a Belief

This prompt encourages you to showcase your ability to think critically and challenge the status quo. You might discuss a time when you questioned a commonly held belief or a personal assumption. What prompted you to reconsider this belief, and what was the outcome? This essay could demonstrate your capacity for self-reflection and your willingness to change your mind when presented with new information or perspectives.

Prompt #4: Solving a Problem

This prompt allows you to highlight your problem-solving skills. You could talk about a problem you’ve faced personally, a problem you’ve solved in your community, or even a global issue you’re passionate about addressing. Remember to focus not only on the problem itself but also on your thought process and actions in addressing it.

Prompt #5: Describe a Person You Admire

This prompt invites you to discuss a person who has significantly impacted your life. This could be a family member, a teacher, a mentor, or even a public figure. How have they influenced your values, actions, and aspirations? Remember, the aim is to describe this person and illustrate their impact on you.

Prompt #6: Discuss a Professional Experience or Extracurricular Activity That Has Been Meaningful to You

Extracurricular activities or work experiences often provide valuable life lessons. Discuss an activity outside of school or a work experience that has significantly influenced you. What did you learn from this experience? How has it shaped your understanding of the world and your future aspirations?

Remember, the topic you choose should give the admissions committee deeper insight into who you are. It should be something that you’re passionate about and reflects your personality, values, and growth.

Tips on How to Write a College Admission Essay

Writing a compelling college admission essay is crucial to your application process. It’s your chance to showcase your personality, experiences, and writing skills to the admissions committee. Here are some essential tips to guide you on how to write a college application essay:

1. Start Early

Procrastination is the enemy of quality. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your essay. Starting early gives you ample time to brainstorm, write, revise, and perfect your essay. It allows you to explore different ideas, choose the best one, and refine your story without feeling rushed.

2. Understand the Prompt and Instructions

Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), ensure you thoroughly understand what the prompt asks you to do. Misinterpreting the prompt can lead to a disconnected, off-topic essay. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you’re unsure about any aspect of the prompt or the instructions.

3. Create a Strong Opener

First impressions matter, and the first few lines of your essay can either hook your reader or lose them. Begin with an engaging opener that sets the tone for the rest of the essay. A strong opening can be a provocative question, a surprising fact, or a compelling anecdote related to your topic.

4. Stay on Topic

While it can be easy to veer off-course when writing, staying focused on your topic is essential. Ensure that each paragraph supports your main idea and contributes to the overall narrative of your essay. A clear and coherent essay is more likely to engage your reader and convey your message effectively.

5. Think About Your Response

Take some time to reflect on your response to the prompt before you begin writing. What do you want to convey through your essay? What aspects of your personality, experiences, or aspirations do you want to highlight? A clear understanding of your response can guide your writing process, resulting in a more focused and meaningful essay.

6. Focus on You

Remember, the college admission essay is about you. It should reflect your experiences, perspectives, and aspirations. Don’t get caught up in writing what you think the admission officers want to hear. Instead, be honest, be authentic, and let your true self shine through.

7. Stay True to Your Voice

Your unique voice is one of the most powerful tools in your writing arsenal. Don’t try to imitate someone else’s style or tone. Write in a way that feels natural and authentic to you. Admission officers appreciate essays that reflect the applicant’s genuine voice and personality.

8. Be Specific and Factual

Vague statements can make your essay feel generic and unconvincing. Instead, use specific examples, experiences, and facts to support your points. The more concrete details you provide, your essay will be more engaging and persuasive.

9. Edit and Proofread

Never submit your first draft. Always take the time to revise and read your essay. Check for clarity, coherence, grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. You might also consider asking someone else to review your essay. Fresh eyes can often spot issues that you might have missed.

Remember, writing a compelling college admission essay takes time, effort, and plenty of revisions. But with patience and perseverance, you can create an essay that truly reflects who you are and what you bring to the college community.

How to Stand Out on Your College Admission Essays

College admissions officers read hundreds, if not thousands, of essays each year. So, how do you make yours stand out from the crowd? Here are some strategies to help your essay shine:

Your First Paragraph Should Grab the Reader’s Attention

The opening of your essay is your chance to make a lasting first impression. A compelling anecdote, a provocative question, or a fascinating fact can serve as a strong hook that immediately grabs your reader’s attention. But remember, your hook should also be relevant and tie into the theme of your essay.

Be Authentic, Not Generic

With countless essays to read, admissions officers can quickly spot generic responses. Authenticity, on the other hand, is refreshing and memorable. Don’t shy away from sharing your unique experiences, perspectives, and aspirations. Your personal story, told in your own voice, can be far more compelling than any generic response.

Be Exciting – Don’t Be Boring

Engage your reader with vivid descriptions, lively language, and a captivating narrative. Show, don’t tell, by using specific examples and sensory details. Instead of saying, “I love music,” say, “The thrumming bass and soaring melodies in my favorite songs make me feel alive.” The more engaging your essay, the more likely the admissions officer is to remember it.

Use Proper Formatting

While content is king, presentation matters too. A well-structured essay is easier to read and shows that you’ve put thought into your work. Break up your text into paragraphs to make it more readable. Make sure your essay has a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Use transitions to guide your reader smoothly from one idea to the next.

Approach the Essay Prompt From a Different Point of View

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A unique perspective can make your essay stand out. If the prompt asks about a challenge you’ve overcome, for example, you might write about a time you turned a failure into an opportunity instead of a traditional success story. This approach can showcase your creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to think critically.

Remember, standing out isn’t about being the most impressive, daring, or anything. It’s about being you. By staying true to yourself and your experiences, you can write an essay that’s not only unique but also compelling and memorable.

College Application Essay Example

Title: College Application Essay Example: Pursuing a Career in Nursing

When I was seven years old, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse. This wasn't a random choice; it was inspired by the most caring and compassionate woman I know, my grandmother.

Introduction: The Inspiration

My grandmother was a nurse, and growing up, I was always in awe of her stories. She wasn't just helping people; she was making a difference in their lives. Her eyes would light up as she shared tales of comforting scared patients, advocating for their needs, and being a beacon of hope in their darkest hours. I knew then that I wanted to follow in her footsteps.

Body Paragraph 1: A Defining Moment

My decision was solidified during a family trip to Nicaragua when I was twelve. We were volunteering at a local clinic, and I saw the stark disparities in healthcare firsthand. I remember a young boy named Miguel who arrived at the clinic with a broken arm, his face twisted in pain. The clinic was understaffed and resources were limited, but I watched as the local nurses did their best to comfort and care for Miguel. It was then that I realized the power of nursing: even in the most challenging circumstances, nurses could provide comfort, care, and dignity.

Body Paragraph 2: Building Skills and Experiences

In high school, I took every opportunity to explore the field of nursing further. I volunteered at our local hospital, joined the health club, and took advanced science courses. Each experience reinforced my passion for nursing and helped me develop valuable skills such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving.

Body Paragraph 3: Overcoming Challenges

However, my journey to becoming a nurse hasn't been without challenges. Balancing academics, extracurriculars, and part-time work was tough. There were moments of self-doubt, but each challenge I overcame made me more resilient and determined. I learned to prioritize, manage my time effectively, and stay focused on my goals – skills I know will be invaluable in nursing school.

Conclusion: Looking Ahead

As I prepare for college, I am excited about the opportunity to deepen my knowledge and skills in nursing. I look forward to learning from experienced professors, engaging in hands-on clinical experiences, and contributing to the campus community through health-related initiatives. I am ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead because I know that with each one, I will be one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a nurse.

So, there you have it. A sneak peek into my life and my dream. I hope it gives you a sense of who I am and the nurse I aspire to become.

This essay demonstrates an authentic passion for nursing, provides specific examples to show the writer’s commitment to this field, and addresses the challenges faced in the journey. It’s personal, engaging, and tells a story – key features of a successful college admissions essay. As you work on your own essay, remember to let your personality shine through and focus on what makes your story unique.

Final Thoughts; How to Write a College Admission Essay

Writing a college admission essay can feel like a monumental task, but it’s an excellent opportunity to share your unique story and personality with the admissions committee. Remember, it’s not about trying to impress with big words or what you think the committee wants to hear. Instead, it’s about authenticity and passion. You’re much more than your grades and extracurricular activities. This essay is your chance to show that.

If the task still seems too daunting, remember you’re not alone. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of writing an essay that could impact your future. That’s why professional nursing essay writing help can make a world of difference. Our team of experienced professionals is here to guide you every step of the way. 

Whether you’re struggling to find a topic, structure your thoughts, or just need someone to review and polish your draft, we’ve got you covered. We can help remove the stress from the process so you can focus on what matters most—sharing your unique story.

What’s Next?

Congratulations on making it to the end of this comprehensive guide on how to write a college admission essay! You’re now equipped with the knowledge, tips, and tools to craft a compelling essay. So, take a deep breath, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and let your story unfold.

FAQs on College Admission Essays

Can I Use the Same Essay for Different Schools?

While using the same base essay for different schools is possible, it’s important to customize it to fit each school’s specific prompt and values.

How Can My Essay Stand Out From Everyone Else’s?

Be authentic, tell a unique story, and use a compelling voice. Add personal insights and experiences that reflect who you are.

How Personal Should The Personal Essay Be?

Your essay should be personal enough to give admission officers insight into your character and experiences. However, avoid oversharing or including inappropriate information.

Why Shouldn’t I Write About My Awards Or Accomplishments?

Awards and accomplishments are usually listed elsewhere in your application. Your essay should reveal more about your character and personal experiences.

How Important Is It That My Essay Be Polished?

Extremely important. A polished essay showcases your writing skills and reflects your professionalism and attention to detail.

When Should I Start Planning My College Essay?

Start planning as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the more time you have to brainstorm, write, and revise.

When Is My College Essay Due?

Essay deadlines vary by college and application type (Early Decision, Regular Decision). Always check the specific deadlines for the colleges you’re applying to.

What Should I Write My College Essay About?

Write about something personal and meaningful to you. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life.

What Makes A Good College Essay?

A good college essay is authentic, well-written, structured, and gives insight into the applicant’s character and experiences.

What Do Colleges Look For in Essays?

Colleges look for authenticity, clarity of thought, creativity, and depth of character. They want to see your writing ability and passion for your subject.

How Many Words Should a College Application Essay Have?

Most colleges recommend that your essay be between 500-650 words. However, the exact length can vary depending on the specific requirements of the college or university you’re applying to. Always double-check the instructions.

When Should I Write My College Essay?

Ideally, you should begin writing your college essay during the summer before your senior year of high school. This gives you ample time to brainstorm, write, and revise without the stress of your regular schoolwork. 

Get a high-quality paper in under 3 hours!

  • Get original papers written according to your instructions.
  • Save time for what matters most.