College Corner: The Essay

Priyunka Maheshwari, Staff Writer

As college application deadlines approach, one of the most daunting tasks is crafting the perfect essay.  Commonly stated on university websites as one of the most important factors for admission, a good essay can boost a student from an under consideration status to admitted.


Head counselor Mrs. Brooks said that colleges really do read the essays. At selective schools, it can make you stand out.


One of the common pitfalls in essay writing is picking a cliché topic. While it may seem impressive to write about community service, mission trips, or how you admire a famous figure in history, colleges have read hundreds of essays about similar topics. Find something creative that genuinely impacted you, and write about it in your own style. While you do not want to sound informal, whatever makes you different from other applicants should shine through and set you apart.


According to Mrs. Brooks, you should be creative so admissions representatives want to read your essay. Communicate to the representatives who you are and why you should be at their school. You aren’t writing for TAKS so put your voice into the essay. Ask yourself if your parents would be able to choose your essay out of a stack.


In addition to finding the right topic, students should follow basic guidelines to keep them on track. By starting early, you will have to opportunity to get feedback from family members and teachers. Always have someone proof your essay—errors sometimes slip past our attention. Write with proper grammar and avoid contractions and slang. There is no room for texting abbreviations in a paper being sent to a place of higher education. Finally, make sure you are aware of the requirements for your essay. Because there is a word count, usually about 500 words or less, concise and direct writing is a necessity. Exclude extraneous fluff and order the rest of your ideas in the most logical way. 


Counselor Mrs. Fieldman said to make sure you reread your essay for mistakes. Before editing, reread the prompt to make sure you are actually answering the question.


There is no right answer to the college essay—and there are an endless number of topics. The most important thing is to be honest, though, because something you can develop is ten times better than an idea you stole from someone else.