Applying to the best colleges in the world can be stressful. And while every part of the process brings its own challenges, completing the written portion (a.k.a. essays) of your application is one of the most nerve-racking.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a short list of tips and tricks for how to write a college application essay.

1. Write about what is asked.

Sometimes when you’re writing an application response, it can be easy to lose sight of the topic at hand. Since you only have so many words to respond, it’s imperative you don’t stray too far from what the prompt specifically asks you about.

One way to make sure you’re staying on track is to directly reference the prompt in your response. This shows the admissions committee that you understand what’s being asked and you’re going to tell them exactly what they want to know, which can set your essay apart from other applicants.

2. Directly reference your own experiences. 

Colleges will ask you a variety of different questions in their prompts. No matter the topic, it’s important to be specific about the experiences you’ve had that are unique to you and your educational experience. By including personal details, you’ll be able to show that you have a genuine interest in the major you’ve picked. Make sure to clearly explain both what the experience was and how it had an impact on you.

3. Be concise.

You might think you need to use a lot of words to say what you need to say, but often less is really more. Too many words can confuse the reader and detract from the point of your essay.

An effective way to ensure you’re being concise is to put your paper through a hardcore spring cleaning. In other words, take what you don’t need and throw it out. Once you get a first draft, read through and cut out any unnecessary words. You might even find whole sentences that seemed important at the time but sound repetitive or irrelevant when you give them a second glance.

4. Edit, edit, edit!

You know the feeling you get when you hear you own voice on a recording and think, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I sound like that!”? The same thing can happen when you reread something you wrote. That’s why it’s so important to take time to edit your responses before you submit them.

Wait a minute, didn’t we just talk about going back over essays for spring cleaning? Why yes, we did! Checking for brevity is a big part of editing, but if you want to submit the best version of your essay, there are other things to watch out for, too—like spelling, grammar, and clarity, just to name a few. (also be mindful of US v/s UK spelling!)

The best way to start is to start early. The sooner you have a complete draft, the more time there is to walk away and re-evaluate your work with fresh eyes. After taking a break, you might catch errors you otherwise would’ve never seen.

Another technique is having a teacher, friend, or parent review your response. They can catch spelling/grammar mistakes you might miss and can give you a nudge in the right direction if you’ve strayed from the topic or lost your voice.

5. Be yourself.

We know you’ve heard this a million times before, and we know it sounds like corny, cliché advice, but letting your voice shine really does make a difference in your writing. For most of the application process, you tick boxes and answer the same questions as thousands of other applicants. The written portion is your chance to show colleges who you really are …. remember that thousands of other kids are going to vie for the same seat …but there’s only one person who can tell your story.

If you’re thinking about applying to the best universities in the world, we’ll be happy to partner you on this journey. Connect with us today !