What Are Good College Essays?

What Are Good College Essays?

If you're like most people, writing essays is probably not on your list of fun things to do. While it may not be exciting or easy, writing a good admission essay could make or break your chances of getting into college. Learning what makes a good college essay is the first step to writing a great one of your own so that you can wow those admissions officers and get into your ideal school.

1 Why You Need to Write College Essays

The college essay is necessary because it's the only part of the application process that has the power to truly showcase who you are as a learner and as a person. Achievement of academic excellence and high performance on assessments may be impressive, but there will surely be a long line of other successful students competing for the same spot. You're so much more than your accomplishments, and the college essay is your golden opportunity to prove it.

2 Good College Essays for Admissions

Authenticity is the key to a good college essay for admissions. Most students make the mistake of writing what they think the admissions board wants to hear. Others try too hard to impress with obvious embellishments or a fancy vocabulary. The truth is that genuine, open and honest self-reflection is far more likely to impress in a college essay than pretending to be someone you're not or speaking in a way that's not natural for you.

Before you start writing, brainstorm a list of things that you're genuinely passionate about. Anything that truly excites you is fair game. Personal experiences that had a profound impact on you are usually good topics for college essays. Make sure you steer clear of anything negative or illegal. Focus on a topic that highlights your passions and personality.

Deciding on a topic is probably the hardest part of writing a college essay. Go through the list of topics that you made during brainstorming and narrow it down until you settle on something that you genuinely want to write about. The topic should be something you're passionate about and can personally connect with in a meaningful way. Most colleges will provide a question or prompt to help guide your thinking, so make sure that your topic answers that question or addresses that prompt in a way that you personally connect with.

Once you have your topic set, write an outline to help you organize your ideas. The essay should have a clear beginning, middle and end. Check the submission guidelines to ensure that you meet all of the requirements for formatting and word count. Ideally, your essay should be between 400 to 500 words. You can write more than that if you need to, but be careful to stay within any limits that may exist within the guidelines. Once you're done writing, have a trusted friend or family member look it over and give you honest advice.

3 Essay Examples for University

The best way to know what a successful college essay looks like is to read samples of actual essays that worked. A quick internet search for college essay samples will turn up a wealth of resources that can help you better visualize what your own should look like. What college admissions boards found most impressive are essays that stand out from the crowd through the use of humor, creativity and authenticity. Successful applicants generally expressed evidence of self-awareness and allowed their writing to reveal the unique quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them who they are.

Kristina Barroso earned a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University and works full-time as a classroom teacher in a public school. She teaches middle school English to a wide range of students from struggling readers to advanced and gifted populations. In her spare time, she loves writing articles about education for TheClassroom.com, WorkingMother and other education sites.