4 Tips for Writing Persuasive College Admissions Essays

For college admissions, the essay is one of the most rewarding parts of the application evaluation process. However, it’s one of the most dreaded topics of conversation for aspiring college students. While it may not always be the most exciting part of applying to college, it’s your opportunity to express your interest, showcase your personality and highlight your academic achievements – essentially it’s your chance to make a lasting first impression. No pressure right?

If you’re feeling a little nervous about getting started, you’re not alone: “often the essay is the first part of the application started and the last finished”, says Dr. Beth Wiser, Director of Undergraduate Admissions. “I’ve talked to a number of students this week who report their application to UVM is all done; except for the essay.” Whether your writers block is caused by nerves, or perhaps you’re preoccupied with balancing your academics and your extracurriculars, it’s time to get started.

Don’t worry, we wouldn’t encourage you to get started without a little direction, so without further ado:

4 Essentials Tips for Writing College Admission Essays

Let Your Personality Come Alive

Through a holistic admissions review, colleges and universities admit students with strong academic backgrounds and who they feel can contribute to the campus community. While there are many elements of a college application, the admissions essay is your opportunity to humanize your application and let your personality come alive; embrace it, and be true to yourself!

“Ultimately, write about yourself and something that is important to you. You can take an direct or indirect approach to this – but at the end of the essay we should know something more about you, your views and your passions,” continues Dr. Wiser. If you’re not sure where to start, brainstorm and draft up your different strengths, weaknesses and the challenges that you have overcome. If you’re passionate about volunteering or the extracurriculars you’re involved in at school, this is your golden opportunity to showcase your passion to the college you’re applying to by connecting a brief anecdote from your experiences.

Be Confident

Filling out your college application is a time to boast, not brag, about your many skills and accomplishments. “It’s important to write as though you deserve gaining acceptance – present yourself as unique with specific skills and passion,” says Jeannie Borin, Writer and College Admissions Consultant. Pursuing a college eduction is your first courageous step in the application process, now it’s time to create a descriptive and action-oriented essay around what makes you a truly deserving college applicant – ultimately, pick a topic that differentiates you from other candidates in order to leave a lasting first impression.

Demonstrate Knowledge and Passion for the College You’re Applying to

One of the best ways to stand out from thousands of other applicants is to demonstrate an acute interest in the college or university you’re applying to. While you can perform research over the internet, touring the college campus, meeting with admissions – and if the school permits, attending college events and sitting in on a lecture can go a long way when it comes time to write your essay. If you gain knowledge on college-specific programs and what it’s really like on campus, you can potentially leverage that information and prove to admissions that you’re a serious and passionate candidate.

Attention to Detail

The length is typically pre-determined by the college, so be sure that you abide by any set guidelines. At the University of Vermont, admissions requires applicants to write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of their choice or on one of the six pre-determined topics. Be sure that you review the suggested topics and guidelines before you begin drafting up your admissions essay to save yourself the headache of having to rewrite anything.

Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to write your essay. In order to ensure that you have truly gone above in beyond, you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to brainstorm, write, revisit, and of course, edit your essay. “Write something that represents your writing ability and writing style. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of editing and checking spelling,” says Dr. Wiser. If you’re unsure of how to properly edit and check for any grammar mistakes, ask a parent or teacher to help you proofread before you consider your essay final.

Also there is something important you should keep in mind while applying to college and writing your essay – “The reality of a selective admissions process is that a fabulous essay will not make up for an academic record that falls below the competitiveness of an applicant pool. The more selective the institution, the more this is true. At an institution like UVM that admits more than half of our applicants, the essay does provide another important piece of information that helps illuminate a student’s background,” states Dr. Wiser.

Finally, when it comes time to write your essay, be meticulous. In order to ensure that you have truly gone above and beyond, you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to brainstorm, write, revisit and, of course, edit your essay.