The art of the college essay

The idea is to be real, authentic, and unapologetically you.

February 10, 2024 02:54 pm | Updated 02:54 pm IST

Your college essay should be the one that stands out amid the vast sea of applications.

Your college essay should be the one that stands out amid the vast sea of applications. | Photo Credit: Freepik

A brilliant piece of storytelling that is sometimes lost in the chaos of college applications is the college essay. Yes, the scary essay that has to capture your spirit and aspirations in a specific number of words. But don’t worry; the art of the college essay is all about using this obstacle as a chance for personal growth.

If your life were a book, the college essay would be the one chapter where you could tell your narrative in writing. It’s not about showing off your accomplishments. Instead, the goal is to highlight the human behind the accomplishments; the resume’s hidden personality.

Writing the college essay is not about sculpting the perfect superhero version of yourself. It’s about being real, authentic, and unapologetically you. Remember, the people reading your essay aren’t looking for flawless perfection. They’re searching for genuine connections and stories that they relate to and that stay in their mind.

In the mission to write the perfect essay, many forget the magic that lies in vulnerability. Share the moments when you stumbled, the times when you doubted, and the instances when you emerged stronger. It’s these raw, imperfect moments that make your narrative relatable and memorable.

Craft your story

Start with a bang! Your opening should hook the reader. Whether it’s a personal anecdote or story, a powerful quote, or a vivid description, set the stage for your story. Remember, this is your chance to shine, so make that first impression count.

Show, don’t tell: Instead of listing adjectives that describe you, show those qualities through personal stories and experiences. If you’re claiming to be resilient, share a story that illustrates that. Let the reader see through your eyes, feel the emotions, and understand the lessons you’ve learned.

Themes that resonate: Your essay should have a a central theme that echoes throughout. It could be about resilience, curiosity, or the transformative power of a single moment. Whatever it is, let it be the compass guiding your narrative. A well-crafted theme adds depth and weight to your storytelling.

Accept the ordinary: You don’t need to climb Everest or invent the next big thing to have a compelling story. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly ordinary moments that carry the most weight. Reflect on experiences that might seem ordinary initially but hold a deeper significance in shaping you.

Importance of editing: Think of your first draft as a rough diamond; it has potential but needs polishing. Editing is where the magic happens. Trim the extra, refine your language, and ensure every word serves a purpose. Ask for feedback but, remember, the final product should still sound like you.

The journey matters

While the goal is undoubtedly getting into college, the college essay is also a journey of self-reflection. It’s a chance to reflect on your past, acknowledge your present, and envision your future. Accept the process, enjoy the introspection, and let it be a stepping stone toward understanding yourself better.

The college essay is not about conforming to expectations but about standing out by being authentically you. So, when you sit down to pen that essay, remember, it’s not just about the words on the page; it’s about sharing a piece of yourself with the world. Let your story be the one that shines amid the vast sea of applications. After all, the most compelling tales often come from the heart.

The writer is Founder and CEO of

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