Six Steps to Start Writing Your College Application Essay Today

Update: Feb 27, 2022.  Originally published Jul 25, 2014.

High school juniors, thinking about how to write your college application essay?

To get a jump-start on writing your essay, click here to register for this $19 College Application Essay Secrets online class on March 1, 2022.

Starting early is a great idea!  Applications to college are up 9% over the past year, according to this 2022 Common Application report and Forbes Magazine.

Consider these tips about how to write your college application essay:

1.  Forget writing.  Take a while just to get organized. This means:

  • Decide on your first choice school.
  • Look at that school’s website to see if it takes the common application and /or requires supplementary questions.
  • Copy and paste all of the information for your schools into one computer file, (yes–finally someone is saying that you SHOULD copy and paste something you found on the internet) along with the date the application is due, and the number of words in each essay.  You may want to start an Excel file with columns for college name, deadline, whether they take the common app, and a weblink for other essay questions.

Not sure what early action is?  Read more here:

[Early Action or Early Decision?]

2. It helps to read about successful essays. There are many excellent books with essay examples. I have examples in my book, Solving the College Admissions Puzzle and on my site here and here.

3.  Start to brainstorm lists. Here is how to brainstorm a list.  [This process will take approximately 15 minutes.]

4.  Pick a prompt and a topic that attracts you. [This process might take 15 minutes to an hour.]  It’s best to involve an adult in this process.  Here are the characteristics of a great essay topic:

  • You tell a true story about something that you have experienced.  The point of the story is something positive about you; the story reveals a quality that will help you be successful in college, such as being organized, taking initiative, etc.
  • You feel good sharing your essay with a person who might be a checking you out, such as a future employer or date.
  • The essay has some vivid and positive imagery.
  • The essay includes details and self insight.

Start writing your essay like you are telling a true story about yourself to an adult who doesn’t know you.

6.  Get feedback, edit and repeat. Here is some background on how to edit your college essay.

[Need more assistance with writing your story or your college application essay?  Would you like to work with an award-winning writer who helps businesses, authors and students tell their story in the most meaningful way?  Write Debbie]