College Admissions Essay: The Time is Now


It’s that time of year when students have to hand in their college admissions essay. For students whose SAT or ACT scores are a little bit on the low side or for students whose GPA is lower than they would like, it’s extra important to have a fabulous essay. So what is it that makes an essay well above average?

One – The essay should be incredibly unique.

It must be unique in content but also in writing style. Many students have similar life experiences at age 16 and 17. However, students can put a unique and original spin on their particular struggles, volunteer experience, or personal outlook on life. Students should also show originality and writing style. If it appears that the essay has an overly rigid structure it will appear less interesting to the reader.

Two – The essay should have absolutely no errors.

It is especially important for an admissions essay to have appropriate structure, proper grammar, and absolutely no spelling or punctuation errors. Student writers should have multiple people proofread their essay or hire a professional proofreader who can catch any and all errors as well as provide appropriate suggestions for structural improvements – our Irvine English tutors would be more than glad to read it.

Three – The essay should be about you as a person.

College admissions departments do not want to admit students who are all exactly the same. US colleges and universities like to have diversity on campus and so it’s important that the internal “you” can shine through your essay. If there’s something unique about your personality or what you would like to do with your life or something that you have a particular passion for, it’s important to mention that in the essay (READ: “College Application Crunch Time“).

What to Do Now

So what do you do now that your college applications, including your admissions essay, are due less than a month from today? Here is a last minute timeline that you can follow to allow yourself the best chance at success as a student writer.

One – Start writing right now.

If, for some reason, you have not yet started writing the first draft of your essay now is the time to get started. Seriously, stop reading this blog, sit down at your computer and start typing. There is not much time left but there is still enough time for a dedicated student to finish a first and second draft and to arrange for a proofreader.

Two – Polish up the content.

If you have already written a rough draft for your essay now is the time to pull it out of your binder, backpack, or the drawer that you stuffed it in and take a second look. Read through it and see what’s working and what’s not. Grab two different color highlighters and highlight the things that are really great and the things that you would like to keep, and then highlight the things that need improvement (READ: “7 Best Essay Contests“).

Ask a parent, a trusted and dedicated friend, or a tutor to take a look at your essay. Ask them to give you absolutely honest feedback. What do they like about it and what don’t they like about it? Then go ahead and write your second draft. Remember to do all of your content edits before you start your grammar edits, otherwise you may find that you’re simply correcting things over and over again when it wasn’t really necessary to do so.

Three – Polish up the structure.

If you feel that your structure is rigid or if you don’t have any transition sentences, arrange to sit down with a tutor for an hour or two and get it polished up. If it is an option, hire a proofreader to go through and give you suggestions. It may take a couple of proofreads because you may need to send it back for a final edit after you fix the first set of corrections and suggestions.

The college admissions essay is incredibly important and should not be overlooked and it is especially important for students who have lower SAT scores or a lower GPA. A fabulously written essay can often take a student’s application from the ‘maybe’ pile to the ‘yes’ pile in the college admissions department. For students who would like to attend a small liberal arts college, keep in mind that the essay is given a heavier weight on acceptance than at larger universities. There is still time, so start writing and get it out of the way so that you can enjoy your winter break.

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