How To Nail Your First College Essay

Breathe. Relax. You are going to be okay, and you are going to be fine. The first thing to remember when you are sitting in front of your computer to write your first college essay and the blank white empty document is just staring back at you is that “You can do this.”

You have this childhood dream or long term aspiration to enter into this college or university and you are afraid that this college essay will be your undoing as your hands sweat and your heart palpitates. Fear not! You have made it this far into your academic life, this is nothing but a small hurdle that you will simply need to jump over. Instead of looking at this as some sort of examination that you need to pass, think of it as a platform to show them who you are beyond what your grades and extracurriculars have already said.

5 Tips on How to Help you Nail that College Essay


1. Be true to yourself.


This is such an ancient saying that people use every day that sometimes it just goes right through the listener’s ears. However, this is a good reminder right now as you are just starting to write. Do not try to impress your reader by being someone you are not. Thousands of people do it, they try to be someone they are not and they write about all these things that do not reflect who they are. That kind of writing simply comes out as fake and staged.

How do you write truthfully?

Be honest. Tell the admissions reader your flaws as a human being and how you are trying your best to be better. Do not copy someone’s work and then claim it as your own. This creates a culture of trust between the reader and you. Write about something you overcame even though it was hard instead of something impressive and easy.  Talk about experiences of getting out of your comfort zone, persevering through many defeats, and pushing through life with determination. Write an essay on things that your grades and test scores cannot reflect, show your character.


2. Grab their attention and leave a lasting impression


Writing honestly that reflects your true self will never be boring. After deciding on the topic that you want to write about and making that first draft then think about how you can grab their attention by crafting an attention-grabbing first line. You can try the following suggestions and see what best fits your essay and personality:

  • Start with a question
  • Use a quote
  • Speak directly to the reader
  • Create a slightly exaggerated phrase (but remember to clarify what you mean afterward)

In addition to grabbing their attention, leave your reader also with a good lasting impression of you that will make them want to know you more. Like the audience in a concert, make them want to shout for more.


3. Do not cram so that you can edit as needed


There are a lot of people who cram well. They work well under pressure and they create their best works when they cram it, however, not everyone is wired like that and it is not advisable.

It is best if you prepare early by writing several drafts before settling on one. The reason for this is that having several drafts gives you many options on what you can write about and you can pick out the best topic that will reflect who you are. Another reason for not cramming is that not all of the good ideas come to you in one sitting. If given ample time to write, then some thoughts and anecdotes might come to you as you build your essay through the days.


4. Keep it simple and accurate


When writing a college essay, it is important to not just fill it with beautiful words and neglect the grammatical rules. Make it easy to read by not using different kinds of fonts or making unnecessary phrases bold. Be clear and concise in short sentences. Use a word counter to keep track of how many words you’ve written already. Do not plagiarize anything.

Common mistakes that college essays have are run-on sentences, errors in using a comma, and pronoun-antecedent agreement. Be on the lookout for these.


5. Ask help from your teachers, parents, or people that you trust


Having another pair of eyes to look over your work is always a good thing. Ask for their help to check if you are able to clearly communicate the idea or story that you want and be open to criticism. It is important to turn to people that you trust so that you will not lash out when they make comments on your work because you know that they simply want the best for you. Sometimes they can also offer a fresh perspective on what you are talking about that you may not have initially thought of.


Breathe, relax, and start writing. Nothing will ever get done if you don’t start today. Ace that college essay and show the world that you are here, you are present, and you are ready to take on college life come what may!

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