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Mastering the art of essay writing – a comprehensive guide.

How write an essay

Essay writing is a fundamental skill that every student needs to master. Whether you’re in high school, college, or beyond, the ability to write a strong, coherent essay is essential for academic success. However, many students find the process of writing an essay daunting and overwhelming.

This comprehensive guide is here to help you navigate the intricate world of essay writing. From understanding the basics of essay structure to mastering the art of crafting a compelling thesis statement, we’ve got you covered. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the tools and knowledge you need to write an outstanding essay that will impress your teachers and classmates alike.

So, grab your pen and paper (or fire up your laptop) and let’s dive into the ultimate guide to writing an essay. Follow our tips and tricks, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and confident essay writer!

The Art of Essay Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

Essay writing is a skill that requires practice, patience, and attention to detail. Whether you’re a student working on an assignment or a professional writing for publication, mastering the art of essay writing can help you communicate your ideas effectively and persuasively.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key elements of a successful essay, including how to choose a topic, structure your essay, and craft a compelling thesis statement. We’ll also discuss the importance of research, editing, and proofreading, and provide tips for improving your writing style and grammar.

By following the advice in this guide, you can become a more confident and skilled essay writer, capable of producing high-quality, engaging essays that will impress your readers and achieve your goals.

Understanding the Essay Structure

When it comes to writing an essay, understanding the structure is key to producing a cohesive and well-organized piece of writing. An essay typically consists of three main parts: an introduction, the body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Introduction: The introduction is where you introduce your topic and provide some background information. It should also include your thesis statement, which is the main idea or argument that you will be discussing in the essay.

Body paragraphs: The body of the essay is where you present your supporting evidence and arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a separate point and include evidence to back up your claims. Remember to use transition words to link your ideas together cohesively.

Conclusion: The conclusion is where you wrap up your essay by summarizing your main points and restating your thesis. It is also a good place to make any final thoughts or reflections on the topic.

Understanding the structure of an essay will help you write more effectively and communicate your ideas clearly to your readers.

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Essay

Choosing the Right Topic for Your Essay

One of the most crucial steps in writing a successful essay is selecting the right topic. The topic you choose will determine the direction and focus of your writing, so it’s important to choose wisely. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect topic for your essay:

Choose a topic that you are passionate about or interested in. Writing about something you enjoy will make the process more enjoyable and your enthusiasm will come through in your writing.
Do some preliminary research to see what topics are available and what resources are out there. This will help you narrow down your choices and find a topic that is both interesting and manageable.
Think about who will be reading your essay and choose a topic that will resonate with them. Consider their interests, knowledge level, and any biases they may have when selecting a topic.
Take some time to brainstorm different topic ideas. Write down all the potential topics that come to mind, and then evaluate each one based on relevance, interest, and feasibility.
Try to choose a topic that offers a unique perspective or angle. Avoid overly broad topics that have been extensively covered unless you have a fresh take to offer.

By following these tips and considering your interests, audience, and research, you can choose a topic that will inspire you to write an engaging and compelling essay.

Research and Gathering Information

When writing an essay, conducting thorough research and gathering relevant information is crucial. Here are some tips to help you with your research:

Make sure to use reliable sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. Avoid using sources that are not credible or biased.
As you research, take notes on important information that you can use in your essay. Organize your notes so that you can easily reference them later.
Don’t rely solely on one type of source. Utilize a variety of sources to provide a well-rounded perspective on your topic.
Before using a source in your essay, make sure to evaluate its credibility and relevance to your topic. Consider the author’s credentials, publication date, and biases.
Make sure to keep a record of the sources you use in your research. This will help you properly cite them in your essay and avoid plagiarism.

Crafting a Compelling Thesis Statement

When writing an essay, one of the most crucial elements is the thesis statement. This statement serves as the main point of your essay, summarizing the argument or position you will be taking. Crafting a compelling thesis statement is essential for a strong and cohesive essay. Here are some tips to help you create an effective thesis statement:

  • Be specific: Your thesis statement should clearly state the main idea of your essay. Avoid vague or general statements.
  • Make it arguable: A strong thesis statement is debatable and presents a clear position that can be supported with evidence.
  • Avoid clichés: Stay away from overused phrases or clichés in your thesis statement. Instead, strive for originality and clarity.
  • Keep it concise: Your thesis statement should be concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary words or phrases.
  • Take a stand: Your thesis statement should express a clear stance on the topic. Don’t be afraid to assert your position.

By following these guidelines, you can craft a compelling thesis statement that sets the tone for your essay and guides your reader through your argument.

Writing the Body of Your Essay

Once you have your introduction in place, it’s time to dive into the body of your essay. The body paragraphs are where you will present your main arguments or points to support your thesis statement.

Here are some tips for writing the body of your essay:

  • Stick to One Main Idea: Each paragraph should focus on one main idea or argument. This will help keep your essay organized and easy to follow.
  • Use Topic Sentences: Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Provide Evidence: Support your main points with evidence such as facts, statistics, examples, or quotes from experts.
  • Explain Your Points: Don’t just state your points; also explain how they support your thesis and why they are important.
  • Use Transition Words: Use transition words and phrases to connect your ideas and create a smooth flow between paragraphs.

Remember to refer back to your thesis statement and make sure that each paragraph contributes to your overall argument. The body of your essay is where you can really showcase your critical thinking and analytical skills, so take the time to craft well-developed and coherent paragraphs.

Perfecting Your Essay with Editing and Proofreading

Perfecting Your Essay with Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are essential steps in the essay writing process to ensure your work is polished and error-free. Here are some tips to help you perfect your essay:

  • Take a Break: After writing your essay, take a break before starting the editing process. This will help you look at your work with fresh eyes.
  • Focus on Structure: Check the overall structure of your essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Make sure your ideas flow logically and cohesively.
  • Check for Clarity: Ensure that your arguments are clear and easy to follow. Eliminate any jargon or confusing language that might obscure your message.
  • Grammar and Punctuation: Review your essay for grammar and punctuation errors. Pay attention to subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, and proper punctuation usage.
  • Use a Spell Checker: Run a spell check on your essay to catch any spelling mistakes. However, don’t rely solely on spell checkers as they may miss certain errors.
  • Read Aloud: Read your essay aloud to yourself or have someone else read it to you. This can help you identify awkward phrasing or unclear sentences.
  • Get Feedback: Consider getting feedback from a peer, teacher, or writing tutor. They can offer valuable insights and suggestions for improving your essay.

By following these editing and proofreading tips, you can ensure that your essay is well-crafted, organized, and free of errors, helping you make a strong impression on your readers.

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Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

Find the right college for you.

Writing an essay for college admission gives you a chance to use your authentic voice and show your personality. It's an excellent opportunity to personalize your application beyond your academic credentials, and a well-written essay can have a positive influence come decision time.

Want to know how to draft an essay for your college application ? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing.

Tips for Essay Writing

A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although that may seem short, writing about yourself can be challenging. It's not something you want to rush or put off at the last moment. Think of it as a critical piece of the application process. Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor.

1. Start Early.

Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school. That way, you have ample time to think about the prompt and craft the best personal statement possible.

You don't have to work on your essay every day, but you'll want to give yourself time to revise and edit. You may discover that you want to change your topic or think of a better way to frame it. Either way, the sooner you start, the better.

2. Understand the Prompt and Instructions.

Before you begin the writing process, take time to understand what the college wants from you. The worst thing you can do is skim through the instructions and submit a piece that doesn't even fit the bare minimum requirements or address the essay topic. Look at the prompt, consider the required word count, and note any unique details each school wants.

3. Create a Strong Opener.

Students seeking help for their application essays often have trouble getting things started. It's a challenging writing process. Finding the right words to start can be the hardest part.

Spending more time working on your opener is always a good idea. The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of your piece. The introductory paragraph is what piques the interest of the reader, and it can immediately set your essay apart from the others.

4. Stay on Topic.

One of the most important things to remember is to keep to the essay topic. If you're applying to 10 or more colleges, it's easy to veer off course with so many application essays.

A common mistake many students make is trying to fit previously written essays into the mold of another college's requirements. This seems like a time-saving way to avoid writing new pieces entirely, but it often backfires. The result is usually a final piece that's generic, unfocused, or confusing. Always write a new essay for every application, no matter how long it takes.

5. Think About Your Response.

Don't try to guess what the admissions officials want to read. Your essay will be easier to write─and more exciting to read─if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about your subject. Here’s an example: If all your friends are writing application essays about covid-19, it may be a good idea to avoid that topic, unless during the pandemic you had a vivid, life-changing experience you're burning to share. Whatever topic you choose, avoid canned responses. Be creative.

6. Focus on You.

Essay prompts typically give you plenty of latitude, but panel members expect you to focus on a subject that is personal (although not overly intimate) and particular to you. Admissions counselors say the best essays help them learn something about the candidate that they would never know from reading the rest of the application.

7. Stay True to Your Voice.

Use your usual vocabulary. Avoid fancy language you wouldn't use in real life. Imagine yourself reading this essay aloud to a classroom full of people who have never met you. Keep a confident tone. Be wary of words and phrases that undercut that tone.

8. Be Specific and Factual.

Capitalize on real-life experiences. Your essay may give you the time and space to explain why a particular achievement meant so much to you. But resist the urge to exaggerate and embellish. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each year. They can easily spot a fake.

9. Edit and Proofread.

When you finish the final draft, run it through the spell checker on your computer. Then don’t read your essay for a few days. You'll be more apt to spot typos and awkward grammar when you reread it. After that, ask a teacher, parent, or college student (preferably an English or communications major) to give it a quick read. While you're at it, double-check your word count.

Writing essays for college admission can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. A well-crafted essay could be the deciding factor─in your favor. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll have no problem creating memorable pieces for every application.

What is the format of a college application essay?

Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next. Read the instructions and prompt for more guidance.

Most online applications will include a text box for your essay. If you're attaching it as a document, however, be sure to use a standard, 12-point font and use 1.5-spaced or double-spaced lines, unless the application specifies different font and spacing.

How do you start an essay?

The goal here is to use an attention grabber. Think of it as a way to reel the reader in and interest an admissions officer in what you have to say. There's no trick on how to start a college application essay. The best way you can approach this task is to flex your creative muscles and think outside the box.

You can start with openers such as relevant quotes, exciting anecdotes, or questions. Either way, the first sentence should be unique and intrigue the reader.

What should an essay include?

Every application essay you write should include details about yourself and past experiences. It's another opportunity to make yourself look like a fantastic applicant. Leverage your experiences. Tell a riveting story that fulfills the prompt.

What shouldn’t be included in an essay?

When writing a college application essay, it's usually best to avoid overly personal details and controversial topics. Although these topics might make for an intriguing essay, they can be tricky to express well. If you’re unsure if a topic is appropriate for your essay, check with your school counselor. An essay for college admission shouldn't include a list of achievements or academic accolades either. Your essay isn’t meant to be a rehashing of information the admissions panel can find elsewhere in your application.

How can you make your essay personal and interesting?

The best way to make your essay interesting is to write about something genuinely important to you. That could be an experience that changed your life or a valuable lesson that had an enormous impact on you. Whatever the case, speak from the heart, and be honest.

Is it OK to discuss mental health in an essay?

Mental health struggles can create challenges you must overcome during your education and could be an opportunity for you to show how you’ve handled challenges and overcome obstacles. If you’re considering writing your essay for college admission on this topic, consider talking to your school counselor or with an English teacher on how to frame the essay.

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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Pamela Reynolds

When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.

So, what does this mean for you?

Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.

A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.

Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.

Be Authentic

More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.

Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.

Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.

Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.

Grab the Reader From the Start

You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.

Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.

Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.

Focus on Deeper Themes

Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.

College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.

They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.

Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?

Show Don’t Tell

As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.

The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.

Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.

Try Doing Something Different

If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?

If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.

You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.

However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.

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Write With the Reader in Mind

Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.

Use transitions between paragraphs.

Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?

Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?

Write Several Drafts

Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.

Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.

Read It Aloud

Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.

Don’t Repeat

If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.

Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.

Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.

Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.

Pay Attention to Form

Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.

“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.

In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.

End Your Essay With a “Kicker”

In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.

It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.

So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.

While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.

Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!

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About the Author

Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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how to write an awesome college essay

2 University of South Carolina Essays by an Accepted Student

What’s covered:, essay example #1 – intellectual curiosity, essay example #2 – extracurricular, where to get your university of south carolina essays edited.

If you’re applying to the University of South Carolina’s Honors College, you’ll need to have more than high grades and test scores. Strong academic credentials are a must, of course, but to truly set yourself apart in a competitive applicant pool, you’ll want to showcase your intangible qualities that will allow you to take full advantage of all the Honors College has to offer.

The following essays were written by a real student who was ultimately accepted to the Honors College, so they should give you a more concrete sense of what admissions officers are looking for beyond the numbers.

Please note that while looking at examples of real essays written by other students can give you inspiration for your own essays, you should never copy from these examples. If colleges think you have plagiarized, they are likely to automatically reject you, and plus, the essay is your opportunity to tell your own story, not repeat someone else’s.

Prompt: What sparks your intellectual curiosity? How have you explored the subject in the past? How do you plan to explore it at UofSC?

When I began my true crime podcast almost two years ago, the choice for a perfect first case was simple. I would have to cover the murder of Jonbenet Ramsey. While it may sound morbid, true crime is an interest of mine, and this specific case has always fascinated me. Specifically, the fact that this case has remained unsolved for so many years is profoundly unsettling.

Jonbenet Ramsey was a child pageant queen who was brutally murdered the day after Christmas in her idyllic Colorado town in 1996. Because of the crime’s unsettling nature, and the victim’s pageantry, the American public became quickly captivated by the case. However, despite years of speculation surrounding suspects, the case has remained unsolved. I suppose this is why I have always been drawn to wanting answers in this case. I simply cannot comprehend how a case that gained sweeping media coverage and mesmerized the American public for decades has never been solved.

Over the years, this murder has had many circulating theories. Some speculate it was Jonbenet’s strangely behaved parents, while others suspect a stranger snuck in through the basement window to commit the crime. While I do not necessarily want to harp on the thousands of speculations swirling around true crime media, there is one matter in this case that can simply not be ignored. I believe that if this case had been handled more professionally since the beginning of the investigation, it would be solved today.

There were two major reasons why this case was handled inappropriately: Christmas and community. Jonbenet Ramsey was determined missing in the early morning hours of December 26, 1996. Because of the timing, Boulder, Colorado’s more senior detectives were out enjoying their holiday, while the officers with less experience were called into the initial investigation. Simple mistakes and miscommunications due to their inexperience complicated this already unsettling investigation. Despite this being the most shocking crime to occur in the picturesque Colorado town, it was handled by a gaggle of rookie cops that didn’t get to sleep in the morning after Christmas.

The second reason this investigation was doomed from the start is community. The Ramseys were well-recognized in their Boulder neighborhood and had many close friends come over the morning of Jonbenet’s disappearance. These neighbors helped search the house, also known as the crime scene. Jonbenet was found in the basement by her father before the cops had arrived at the scene. Not knowing what to do, her father carried her upstairs, tainting any evidence that was left with his deceased daughter.

Once a proper investigation was conducted, detectives were left with a minimal report by amateur investigators and an entirely contaminated crime scene, leaving this case as an enigma. The unsolved nature of this case has resulted in my fascination with criminology. 

At the South Carolina Honors College, I would like to research the inner workings of the criminal justice system and learn more about unsolved investigations similar to this case.

During high school, I attempted to explore criminal justice through several different facets. I conducted research about different types of true crime cases for my podcast, which expanded my knowledge of criminal investigations. Additionally, I attended a summer program at New York University that focused on criminal justice. While there, I took a college course that overviewed the different areas of the American criminal justice system. Despite these efforts, my morbid curiosity has not been diminished.

At the South Carolina Honors College, I hope to take several courses which go in-depth on different areas of criminology and public policy. I would also like to work to conduct further research in the field of criminology. Ultimately, I hope to continue exploring concepts of criminal justice while at the South Carolina Honors College.

What the Essay Did Well

This student’s thorough, immersive analysis of the Jonbenet Ramsey case is exactly the kind of thing they’ll be asked to do in Honors College classes, so the essay serves as indisputable evidence (no pun intended) that they have the genuine intellectual curiosity necessary to succeed in a more rigorous academic environment.

The structure of this essay is one thing we want to draw particular attention to, as in a long supplement, you want to be sure there aren’t any places along the way where your reader could potentially get lost. This writer starts by laying out the facts of the case, including what actually happened, the media impact, and the public’s theories, and then smoothly transitions into providing their own analysis, with the lines:

“I believe that if this case had been handled more professionally since the beginning of the investigation, it would be solved today.

There were two major reasons why this case was handled inappropriately: Christmas and community.”

They then go on to clearly and logically explain why these two factors contributed to the case’s lack of a resolution. Again, Honors College admissions officers are evaluating your ability to think critically about a complex topic, and this writer doesn’t just tell us about a time they did that–they actually show us, in this very essay. The proof is in the pudding, in other words (pun intended).

Additionally, the student’s personable writing style makes this essay feel almost like a conversation with a friend. Your essay is much more likely to stand out if admissions officers are genuinely invested in your story, and this writer actively draws readers in with lines like:

  • “While I do not necessarily want to harp on the thousands of speculations swirling around true crime media…”
  • “I simply cannot comprehend how a case that gained sweeping media coverage and mesmerized the American public for decades has never been solved.”

These lines, along with creative phrasings like “a gaggle of rookie cops that didn’t get to sleep in the morning after Christmas” make us feel like the writer is speaking directly to us, which in turn makes us vicariously feel their excitement about this case. 

If you can get your reader genuinely excited about your story, they will remember that feeling of excitement as they’re deliberating about your application with their colleagues, and they will be more likely to advocate for your potential as an Honors College student.

What Could Be Improved

While the student’s detailed description of the Jonbenet Ramsey case grabs readers’ attention and doesn’t let go, so much of the essay is dedicated to describing the case that we almost forget this is a college essay. The point of the college essay is to teach admissions officers about who you are, and we come away from this essay knowing far more about Jonbenet Ramsey and her tragic death than about the author.

Of course, as noted above, the writer does illustrate certain key personality traits, like being attentive to detail and having a subtle sense of humor, in the way they tell the story. However, even though that sophisticated approach is effective, you don’t want almost 75% of your essay to be about something other than you, as the points that are directly about you then feel awkward and out of place–Jonbenet Ramsey seems to be missing from the last three paragraphs, even though this essay actually isn’t actually supposed to be about her.

Because of the imbalance in the essay content, the points the writer makes in response to the second part of the prompt, which is essentially a “Why School?” prompt, feel scattered. They don’t have the room to smoothly integrate them, and so we bounce around from their podcast to the summer class they took at NYU to a vague mention of courses they hope to take at UofSC.

Again, the writer’s enthusiasm about this case is genuinely infectious, but there are times in college essays where you need to “kill your darlings,” or cut content that you like for the sake of the essay as a whole. For example, take the lines:

“Over the years, this murder has had many circulating theories. Some speculate it was Jonbenet’s strangely behaved parents, while others suspect a stranger snuck in through the basement window to commit the crime. While I do not necessarily want to harp on the thousands of speculations swirling around true crime media, there is one matter in this case that can simply not be ignored.”

In a true crime podcast, these lines add helpful context to the story. But in a college essay, they take up a lot of words to basically say “this isn’t my main point.” The writer could have cut the first two sentences, and instead had the following short, punchy second paragraph:

“I do not necessarily want to harp on the thousands of speculations swirling around true crime media, as my personal belief is that if this case had been handled more professionally since the beginning of the investigation, it would be solved today.”

With this version, there’s still a smooth transition into the student’s personal views on this case, and the words saved could then be reallocated to the end of the essay, to build a more concrete connection between their interest in this case and their potential future at UofSC. In a “Why School?” essay, you want to be as precise as possible about why you’re applying to this specific institution , and right now this student only generally references “several courses which go in-depth on different areas of criminology and public policy” and “further research in the field of criminology.”

This last paragraph would be much stronger if the student instead cited specific Honors College courses that they’d like to take, such as “Critical Reading and Composition: The Making of Monsters,” which could teach them more about how a narrative can be constructed to skew perception. Their excitement about their future at UofSC would then be just as tangible as their excitement about the Jonbenet Ramsey case.

Prompt: We expect our students to integrate their learning with meaningful extracurricular experiences. Pick a beyond-the-classroom activity where you have taken initiative and tell us more about your involvement. Share what you have learned from your experience. How do you envision building upon this experience to contribute to UofSC and the South Carolina Honors Community?

There is truly nothing like taking the final bow. On stage, surrounded by these people that have been brought into your life by situation, but have managed to become your closest friends. Your thoughts are drowned out by the overwhelming sound of applause. While it may sound cliche, for a brief moment in time, you feel on top of the world. And, to think, it might almost not have happened this way.

At the beginning of eighth grade, a group of high school students came to my middle school cafeteria. They stood in a line, in front of a couple of hundred thirteen-year-olds, to pitch the different elective options available in high school. I listened through countless presentations, mostly bored until one pitch struck me. These two students began discussing the high school’s theater department. They were both involved with musical theater, and it reminded me of the performance I saw at the end of the previous year. The high school had just put on a production of Grease at the end of my seventh-grade year. It was my favorite musical, and probably the only musical I knew, at the time and I wanted to be a part of it so badly. So, I enrolled in the fundamentals of theater course. 

Flash-forward to the beginning of ninth grade. On my first day of school, my dream of being the queen of musical theater was crushed. My fundamentals of theater teacher…hated musicals. With a passion. At my school, the theater department divides into three separate sections after the initial fundamentals course. These sections included acting, tech, and musical theater. The teacher I had been assigned exclusively taught acting and despised musical theater. This challenge immediately diminished my hope. Every day, I was met with a teacher who would trash talk the elaborate musical productions. However, over time, I began to adore this teacher. She was passionate about theater and was genuinely invested in bettering the lives of her students. 

When it came time to pick classes for next year, I had to choose between pursuing acting or musical theater. The influence this teacher had on me was profound. I knew in my heart-of-hearts that I needed to continue with acting instead of musical theater. So, I did. However, in a strange turn of events, I also ended up taking the musical theater course during my sophomore year. So, my major theatrical decision was prolonged for another year. I continued with these courses, and at the end of the year, it was audition time. I was required to audition for both advanced acting and advanced musical theater, however, I would only be able to select one. At that point, I was doing online school, and my relationship with my acting teacher had been reduced to brief Google Meet interactions. So, when I considered my options, I chose to continue with advanced musical theater because it was my initial dream. This plan was all set by the end of my sophomore year. My junior year course requests were in, and there was supposedly no going back. But, then, everything changed.

In the last week of school, my acting teacher wanted to talk in private. She congratulated me on my acceptance to both advanced acting and musical theater and then asked me which one I was going to choose. I told her, with deep remorse, that I had selected musical theater. She nodded, but then told me how much she wished I would be in her advanced class the following year. She started to tell me all about the advanced acting course. They prepared and performed two productions each year, which involved both extracurricular and curricular involvement, and competed in a one-act play competition. As she described the exciting pursuits available in this course, I knew deep down that I had made the wrong choice. 

The second I got home that day, I sent an email to my counselor requesting my elective choice for the following year be changed. I knew I needed to be in advanced acting. And, ultimately, it all worked out. Junior year, I began the exceptional experience of being a part of the Advanced Acting Ensemble.

My first production was the one-act play, The 146 Point Flame. The entire process of production was immediately exciting. I auditioned and was cast in the role that I wanted! I committed a lot of time to this production. I was often staying after-school for rehearsals and asking my friends and family to run lines with me. This production was composed of a small group, which helped facilitate a strong bond between everyone involved. After performing one night in our school’s theater, we traveled about twenty minutes away to compete against other schools in the regional one-act play competition. The experience was thrilling. We were tasked with performing within a short amount of time, and we succeeded. After awaiting the results, the judges came on stage and announced our regional victory! We were overjoyed. At that exact moment, I knew I had made the right decision in choosing this class. 

In the spring, we began auditions for our next production. This time we would be performing the play She Kills Monsters. This show was extremely different from our prior production. It was composed of two acts, and we would be performing a total of five shows for a public audience. We began the production process again. Another serious round of auditions, memorizing lines, and rehearsals. By the end of our final performance, I felt the most extreme rush of emotions. This acting ensemble has given me many valuable things. My acting skills improved, but more importantly, I was given the opportunity to bond with some of the most amazing people that I may not have met had I chosen musical theater. Ultimately, my participation in high school theater has been irreplaceable, and I would love to continue with a similar extracurricular at the University of South Carolina. 

The most common mistake with this kind of “Extracurricular” prompt is that your response is only about the activity, and you don’t address “what you have learned from your experience” or “how do you envision building upon this experience to contribute to UofSC and the South Carolina Honors Community.” This student masterfully avoids that pitfall by describing not only their passion for theater, but also broader qualities and abilities such as adaptability, self-reflection, and a strong work ethic that will serve them well in any activity, course, or social group at UofSC.

The student also does an excellent job of following perhaps the #1 rule in college essays and showing , rather than merely telling, us how they developed these personality traits. We get to see how their initial interest in musical theater emerged, how they reacted when they were put in an acting class instead, and how they grappled with eventually choosing between musical theater and acting.

This detailed story arc, combined with the student’s friendly, personable writing style, make us feel like we’re along for the ride with them, just like in their previous essay. The point of the college essay is to explain who you are beyond your more objective academic and extracurricular achievements. But, as noted above, the very best essays go a step further and build a connection with admissions officers that gets them genuinely invested in your candidacy.

While admissions officers may seem like faceless strangers, locked in a room thousands of miles away, they were once high schoolers too, struggling to decide which path to follow as they entered young adulthood. Lines like the following openly discuss the uncertainty of adolescence, which is a universal experience that helps admissions officers relate to this student:

  • “It was my favorite musical, and probably the only musical I knew, at the time and I wanted to be a part of it so badly.”
  • “On my first day of school, my dream of being the queen of musical theater was crushed. My fundamentals of theater teacher…hated musicals. With a passion.”
  • “The influence this teacher had on me was profound. I knew in my heart-of-hearts that I needed to continue with acting instead of musical theater.”
  • “This plan was all set by the end of my sophomore year. My junior year course requests were in, and there was supposedly no going back. But, then, everything changed.”
  • “As she described the exciting pursuits available in this course, I knew deep down that I had made the wrong choice.”

Being vulnerable with people you don’t know, who are much older than you and making a big decision about your future, is hard, and you definitely don’t have to bare your soul to write a strong college essay. But acknowledging there have been moments where you doubted yourself or your choices, and showing how you responded in those moments, can tell admissions officers a great deal about you.

While college applications can seem like they’re all about high grades and prestigious awards, schools know that you aren’t perfect. Reflecting honestly on the tougher parts of high school shows maturity, gives your achievements more weight by showing what you had to overcome to earn them, and proves to admissions officers that when you inevitably stumble in college, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and keep going.

There’s only one real issue with this essay. Although the author does an excellent job of showing us the intangible traits they’d bring to UofSC’s Honors College, ideally they would give more concrete examples of how they’d contribute to this community.

The line “Ultimately, my participation in high school theater has been irreplaceable, and I would love to continue with a similar extracurricular at the University of South Carolina” is generic enough that you could swap in any school’s name and still have it make sense. When you mention your excitement to attend a particular school, you always want your reasoning to be specific to that institution.

For example, this student could have mentioned their desire to take courses with Peter Duffy, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance who does work on education in the arts, as they know firsthand the impact a teacher can have on a student’s creative pursuits. Or, they could have mentioned the student group Off Off Broadway as an opportunity for them to finally star in a musical theater production.

After all, just about every school has some sort of theater-related opportunity. This kind of added specificity goes a long way towards showing UofSC admissions officers not just that you want to do theater in college, but that you want to do theater at University of South Carolina specifically. 

Finally, on a more nitpicky, stylistic level, we do want to quickly address the use of the second person “you” in the first paragraph. This choice does create a feeling of universality, which, as noted above, is a good thing. However, remember that the college essay is ultimately about you. So, rather than speaking in general terms, take ownership of your story right away, by saying:

“There is truly nothing like taking the final bow. On stage, surrounded by these people that have been brought into my life by situation, but have managed to become my closest friends. My thoughts are drowned out by the overwhelming sound of applause. While it may sound cliche, for a brief moment in time, I feel on top of the world. And, to think, it might almost not have happened this way.”

Do you want feedback on your University of South Carolina essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., crafting an unforgettable college essay.

Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application.

college essay

It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores . However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities , to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates.

Telling Your Story to Colleges

So what does set you apart?

You have a unique background, interests and personality. This is your chance to tell your story (or at least part of it). The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through.

Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.

You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class.

Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

1. write about something that's important to you..

It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life. 

2. Don't just recount—reflect! 

Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.

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3. Being funny is tough.

A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color.

4. Start early and write several drafts.

Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant? Is it written in the applicant’s own voice?

5. No repeats.

What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application–nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores.

6. Answer the question being asked.

Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.

7. Have at least one other person edit your essay.

A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.

Read More: 2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts (and How to Answer Them)

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How To Write A College Essay: A Step-By-Step Guide

Matt Whittle

Updated: Mar 28, 2024, 4:13am

How To Write A College Essay: A Step-By-Step Guide

Most colleges require prospective students to provide essays—long-form written responses to prompts—when applying for admission . Candidates can use their essays to stand out from other applicants and show schools what makes them unique.

Prospective students wondering how to write a college essay can use this helpful guide to explore common prompts, tips on structuring effective writing and what makes a good college essay. Discover the step-by-step process on how to write a college admission essay, including selecting a topic, outlining, creating a draft and proofreading.

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What Does a College Application Entail?

Here’s what the typical college essay involves.

Common Essay Prompts

The Common App, which allows students to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously, offers several essay prompts for applicants. Most prompts invite the writer to describe a time when they underwent a change or persevered through a struggle. Along with these subjects, applicants can also create their own prompts.

Essay Structure and Length

Check essay structure requirements from each prospective institution. Though most schools allow writers to determine their own essay formats, some may set word count limits or recommendations. Keep their provided range in mind as you write your essay, and dedicate most of your writing to the body of your personal statement, keeping your introduction and conclusion concise.

The Common App sets a word limit of 250 to 650 words. Aim for this range if a school does not specify a word count.

Impact of a Good Essay

Colleges and universities make difficult decisions when admitting new students. If multiple applicants submit similar admission materials—such as strong GPAs, high class ranks, impressive SAT or ACT scores, and well-rounded extracurriculars—a well-written essay can help a candidate stand out to admissions officers.

By crafting a captivating essay that sticks with the reader, you can make a lasting impact to secure your admission.

What Makes a Good College Essay?

Along with adhering to formal, academic standards for grammar, spelling, tone and syntax, a well-written college essay delivers on its premise, grabs the reader’s attention and stays within the word count limit.

At the most basic level, writers should ensure their essays are devoid of basic problems like typographical and grammar issues. College essays should respond directly to the given prompt and expand on the premise with an engrossing narrative or argument.

Most importantly, a good college essay offers compelling insights into its author. Infuse your personality, aspirations and struggles into your essay to illustrate why colleges should consider you for admission.

How To Write a College Admission Essay

When it comes to college essays, a strong writing process is key. Here’s what you should do.

Select an Essay Prompt

Though some institutions may only use one essay prompt, others—including the Common App—offer multiple options. Choose a prompt that lets you draw on your life experiences. If none of the provided prompts spark interest, the Common App allows you to submit an essay that responds to a topic of your own design.

Create an Outline

Before actually writing, create a plan for your essay. Summarize your thoughts with an outline. Include important themes and major points you want to include in the final product.

Write a Rough Draft

When drafting your essay, allow yourself to write and get your ideas down without overthinking. You can revise later. Try to avoid becoming attached to specific concepts or approaches in the early stages of writing, as working through multiple drafts with an open mind can help you develop new understandings about your ideas and find better paths toward the final essay.

Edit and Proofread

Edit your essay, both for content and for proofreading. It can help to print your essay on paper and revise with a pen in hand, as the change in perspective as you shift from a computer screen to a hard copy can make you process your writing differently. Consider using online editing apps, which can offer helpful suggestions for concision and clarity.

Have Others Edit and Proofread

Ask friends, family members, guidance counselors or teachers to read your college essay. Even if these readers lack formal editing experience, a fresh set of eyes can help you find ways to improve. Small-scale issues like typos and larger concerns like unclear themes may be more apparent to someone who did not write the essay.

Revise as Many Times as Needed

Sometimes, you have to delete most—or all—of what you wrote. Do not be afraid to go back to the drawing board. Write your essay as many times as necessary to ensure your ideas are conveyed clearly.

When applying to colleges, candidates need to put their best foot forward on all fronts. While some schools focus more on factors like GPA, class rank and extracurriculars, others evaluate applicants holistically, which means the admissions essay can hold more weight.

Tips for Writing Your Best College Essay

Let’s explore some tips and tricks for making the most of your college essay.

Get Started Early

Start preparing your application materials, including your college essay, in the summer before your senior year of high school. Most schools maintain winter application deadlines, so working on an admission essay several months ahead of that deadline ensures you have given your writing sufficient attention.

Pick a Topic That’s Meaningful to You

Apply the adage “write what you know” to your college essay: Think about what makes you unique, then apply this knowledge to the larger theme of your chosen prompt.

Writing about something meaningful allows your passions and personality to shine through. Because admissions departments often receive thousands of applications and essays each year, choosing a topic where your personal truth is evident can help you stand out among a crowded field of applicants.

Add Analysis to Your Storytelling

Extrapolate the themes of your essay by demonstrating how they apply to your personal story. While you can use abstract subject matter in your essay, linking the motif, structure and central theme of your essay to your own goals and challenges can elevate your writing.

Think “show, don’t tell.” Rather than using your limited space to explain overtly how your essay expresses your individual circumstances, illustrate your themes vividly enough that admissions departments can identify what makes you uniquely you.

Read Your Essay Out Loud

Remember: A person reads your college admission essay. Read your writing aloud—what may have felt great in the writing process may sound unnatural when read aloud. Hearing your writing can also reveal redundancies that may have not have been apparent otherwise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How To Write a College Essay

How do you start a college essay.

Start your essay with a “hook” to grab readers’ attention. Aim for a concise introduction that evokes vivid imagery or raises questions you will answer later in your essay.

What is the format for a college essay?

When formatting your college essay, consider your submission method. If the school provides a text box, refrain from using bolded, underlined or italicized text, which may not translate after copying and pasting. When an institution requires an attached document, submit a PDF file using a standard font like Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, size 12.

What makes a strong college essay?

A strong college essay captivates the reader with an interesting premise and offers insight into what makes you a unique applicant. Strong college essays reveal candidates’ aspirations and challenges.

How do you start off a college essay?

Remember that the person reading your writing will most likely have evaluated dozens or hundreds of other college essays—maybe even on the same day as yours. It’s important to grab their attention from the beginning, so avoid opening with a vague or generic statement and don’t reveal your essay’s conclusion right away. Instead, get specific, choose bold language and vivid imagery, and make your reader curious about how the story ends.

Is it okay to start a college essay with “I”?

Yes—in contrast to expository or argumentative essays you may have written in high school, it’s totally appropriate to write a college application essay from a first-person point of view. In fact, one of the most important functions of a college essay is to give admissions officers an idea of who you are as a person, so don’t hesitate to write from your own point of view.

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177 College Essay Examples for 11 Schools + Expert Analysis

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College Admissions , College Essays


The personal statement might just be the hardest part of your college application. Mostly this is because it has the least guidance and is the most open-ended. One way to understand what colleges are looking for when they ask you to write an essay is to check out the essays of students who already got in—college essays that actually worked. After all, they must be among the most successful of this weird literary genre.

In this article, I'll go through general guidelines for what makes great college essays great. I've also compiled an enormous list of 100+ actual sample college essays from 11 different schools. Finally, I'll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. With links to 177 full essays and essay excerpts , this article is a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay!

What Excellent College Essays Have in Common

Even though in many ways these sample college essays are very different from one other, they do share some traits you should try to emulate as you write your own essay.

Visible Signs of Planning

Building out from a narrow, concrete focus. You'll see a similar structure in many of the essays. The author starts with a very detailed story of an event or description of a person or place. After this sense-heavy imagery, the essay expands out to make a broader point about the author, and connects this very memorable experience to the author's present situation, state of mind, newfound understanding, or maturity level.

Knowing how to tell a story. Some of the experiences in these essays are one-of-a-kind. But most deal with the stuff of everyday life. What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic: analyzing it for drama and humor, for its moving qualities, for what it says about the author's world, and for how it connects to the author's emotional life.

Stellar Execution

A killer first sentence. You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again: you have to suck the reader in, and the best place to do that is the first sentence. Great first sentences are punchy. They are like cliffhangers, setting up an exciting scene or an unusual situation with an unclear conclusion, in order to make the reader want to know more. Don't take my word for it—check out these 22 first sentences from Stanford applicants and tell me you don't want to read the rest of those essays to find out what happens!

A lively, individual voice. Writing is for readers. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after. Your goal? Don't bore your reader. Use interesting descriptions, stay away from clichés, include your own offbeat observations—anything that makes this essay sounds like you and not like anyone else.


Technical correctness. No spelling mistakes, no grammar weirdness, no syntax issues, no punctuation snafus—each of these sample college essays has been formatted and proofread perfectly. If this kind of exactness is not your strong suit, you're in luck! All colleges advise applicants to have their essays looked over several times by parents, teachers, mentors, and anyone else who can spot a comma splice. Your essay must be your own work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help polishing it.

And if you need more guidance, connect with PrepScholar's expert admissions consultants . These expert writers know exactly what college admissions committees look for in an admissions essay and chan help you craft an essay that boosts your chances of getting into your dream school.

Check out PrepScholar's Essay Editing and Coaching progra m for more details!

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Links to Full College Essay Examples

Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over 100 of these.

Common App Essay Samples

Please note that some of these college essay examples may be responding to prompts that are no longer in use. The current Common App prompts are as follows:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you? 5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Now, let's get to the good stuff: the list of 177 college essay examples responding to current and past Common App essay prompts. 

Connecticut college.

  • 12 Common Application essays from the classes of 2022-2025

Hamilton College

  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2026
  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2022
  • 7 Common Application essays from the class of 2018
  • 8 Common Application essays from the class of 2012
  • 8 Common Application essays from the class of 2007

Johns Hopkins

These essays are answers to past prompts from either the Common Application or the Coalition Application (which Johns Hopkins used to accept).

  • 1 Common Application or Coalition Application essay from the class of 2026
  • 6 Common Application or Coalition Application essays from the class of 2025
  • 6 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2024
  • 6 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2023
  • 7 Common Application of Universal Application essays from the class of 2022
  • 5 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2021
  • 7 Common Application or Universal Application essays from the class of 2020

Essay Examples Published by Other Websites

  • 2 Common Application essays ( 1st essay , 2nd essay ) from applicants admitted to Columbia

Other Sample College Essays

Here is a collection of essays that are college-specific.

Babson College

  • 4 essays (and 1 video response) on "Why Babson" from the class of 2020

Emory University

  • 5 essay examples ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) from the class of 2020 along with analysis from Emory admissions staff on why the essays were exceptional
  • 5 more recent essay examples ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) along with analysis from Emory admissions staff on what made these essays stand out

University of Georgia

  • 1 “strong essay” sample from 2019
  • 1 “strong essay” sample from 2018
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2023
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2022
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2021
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2020
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2019
  • 10 Harvard essays from 2018
  • 6 essays from admitted MIT students

Smith College

  • 6 "best gift" essays from the class of 2018


Books of College Essays

If you're looking for even more sample college essays, consider purchasing a college essay book. The best of these include dozens of essays that worked and feedback from real admissions officers.

College Essays That Made a Difference —This detailed guide from Princeton Review includes not only successful essays, but also interviews with admissions officers and full student profiles.

50 Successful Harvard Application Essays by the Staff of the Harvard Crimson—A must for anyone aspiring to Harvard .

50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays and 50 Successful Stanford Application Essays by Gen and Kelly Tanabe—For essays from other top schools, check out this venerated series, which is regularly updated with new essays.

Heavenly Essays by Janine W. Robinson—This collection from the popular blogger behind Essay Hell includes a wider range of schools, as well as helpful tips on honing your own essay.


Analyzing Great Common App Essays That Worked

I've picked two essays from the examples collected above to examine in more depth so that you can see exactly what makes a successful college essay work. Full credit for these essays goes to the original authors and the schools that published them.

Example 1: "Breaking Into Cars," by Stephen, Johns Hopkins Class of '19 (Common App Essay, 636 words long)

I had never broken into a car before.

We were in Laredo, having just finished our first day at a Habitat for Humanity work site. The Hotchkiss volunteers had already left, off to enjoy some Texas BBQ, leaving me behind with the college kids to clean up. Not until we were stranded did we realize we were locked out of the van.

Someone picked a coat hanger out of the dumpster, handed it to me, and took a few steps back.

"Can you do that thing with a coat hanger to unlock it?"

"Why me?" I thought.

More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. I slid the hanger into the window's seal like I'd seen on crime shows, and spent a few minutes jiggling the apparatus around the inside of the frame. Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation.

My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos. With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally. My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. "The water's on fire! Clear a hole!" he shouted, tossing me in the lake without warning. While I'm still unconvinced about that particular lesson's practicality, my Dad's overarching message is unequivocally true: much of life is unexpected, and you have to deal with the twists and turns.

Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned. A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try. I don't sweat the small stuff, and I definitely don't expect perfect fairness. So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people? Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night.

But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power. Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me. I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary. Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded. I learned to adapt.

Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival. But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: "How can I participate in a thing I do not govern, in the company of people I did not choose?"

The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo. Then, I realized I knew the answer. I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me.

Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose. It's family. It's society. And often, it's chaos. You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness. My family experience taught me to face a serendipitous world with confidence.

What Makes This Essay Tick?

It's very helpful to take writing apart in order to see just how it accomplishes its objectives. Stephen's essay is very effective. Let's find out why!

An Opening Line That Draws You In

In just eight words, we get: scene-setting (he is standing next to a car about to break in), the idea of crossing a boundary (he is maybe about to do an illegal thing for the first time), and a cliffhanger (we are thinking: is he going to get caught? Is he headed for a life of crime? Is he about to be scared straight?).

Great, Detailed Opening Story

More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try. I slid the hanger into the window's seal like I'd seen on crime shows, and spent a few minutes jiggling the apparatus around the inside of the frame.

It's the details that really make this small experience come alive. Notice how whenever he can, Stephen uses a more specific, descriptive word in place of a more generic one. The volunteers aren't going to get food or dinner; they're going for "Texas BBQ." The coat hanger comes from "a dumpster." Stephen doesn't just move the coat hanger—he "jiggles" it.

Details also help us visualize the emotions of the people in the scene. The person who hands Stephen the coat hanger isn't just uncomfortable or nervous; he "takes a few steps back"—a description of movement that conveys feelings. Finally, the detail of actual speech makes the scene pop. Instead of writing that the other guy asked him to unlock the van, Stephen has the guy actually say his own words in a way that sounds like a teenager talking.


Turning a Specific Incident Into a Deeper Insight

Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. (I actually succeeded in springing it.) The other was the realization that I'd been in this type of situation before. In fact, I'd been born into this type of situation.

Stephen makes the locked car experience a meaningful illustration of how he has learned to be resourceful and ready for anything, and he also makes this turn from the specific to the broad through an elegant play on the two meanings of the word "click."

Using Concrete Examples When Making Abstract Claims

My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos. With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally.

"Unpredictability and chaos" are very abstract, not easily visualized concepts. They could also mean any number of things—violence, abandonment, poverty, mental instability. By instantly following up with highly finite and unambiguous illustrations like "family of seven" and "siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing," Stephen grounds the abstraction in something that is easy to picture: a large, noisy family.

Using Small Bits of Humor and Casual Word Choice

My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed.

Obviously, knowing how to clean burning oil is not high on the list of things every 9-year-old needs to know. To emphasize this, Stephen uses sarcasm by bringing up a situation that is clearly over-the-top: "in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed."

The humor also feels relaxed. Part of this is because he introduces it with the colloquial phrase "you know," so it sounds like he is talking to us in person. This approach also diffuses the potential discomfort of the reader with his father's strictness—since he is making jokes about it, clearly he is OK. Notice, though, that this doesn't occur very much in the essay. This helps keep the tone meaningful and serious rather than flippant.


An Ending That Stretches the Insight Into the Future

But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: "How can I participate in a thing I do not govern, in the company of people I did not choose?"

The ending of the essay reveals that Stephen's life has been one long preparation for the future. He has emerged from chaos and his dad's approach to parenting as a person who can thrive in a world that he can't control.

This connection of past experience to current maturity and self-knowledge is a key element in all successful personal essays. Colleges are very much looking for mature, self-aware applicants. These are the qualities of successful college students, who will be able to navigate the independence college classes require and the responsibility and quasi-adulthood of college life.

What Could This Essay Do Even Better?

Even the best essays aren't perfect, and even the world's greatest writers will tell you that writing is never "finished"—just "due." So what would we tweak in this essay if we could?

Replace some of the clichéd language. Stephen uses handy phrases like "twists and turns" and "don't sweat the small stuff" as a kind of shorthand for explaining his relationship to chaos and unpredictability. But using too many of these ready-made expressions runs the risk of clouding out your own voice and replacing it with something expected and boring.

Use another example from recent life. Stephen's first example (breaking into the van in Laredo) is a great illustration of being resourceful in an unexpected situation. But his essay also emphasizes that he "learned to adapt" by being "different things to different people." It would be great to see how this plays out outside his family, either in the situation in Laredo or another context.

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Example 2: By Renner Kwittken, Tufts Class of '23 (Common App Essay, 645 words long)

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go," and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon.

Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration.

Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear.

I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

In the lab, Dr. Ray encouraged a great amount of autonomy to design and implement my own procedures. I chose to attack a problem that affects the entire field of nanomedicine: nanoparticles consistently fail to translate from animal studies into clinical trials. Jumping off recent literature, I set out to see if a pre-dose of a common chemotherapeutic could enhance nanoparticle delivery in aggressive prostate cancer, creating three novel constructs based on three different linear polymers, each using fluorescent dye (although no gold, sorry goldbug!). Though using radioactive isotopes like Gallium and Yttrium would have been incredible, as a 17-year-old, I unfortunately wasn't allowed in the same room as these radioactive materials (even though I took a Geiger counter to a pair of shoes and found them to be slightly dangerous).

I hadn't expected my hypothesis to work, as the research project would have ideally been led across two full years. Yet while there are still many optimizations and revisions to be done, I was thrilled to find -- with completely new nanoparticles that may one day mean future trials will use particles with the initials "RK-1" -- thatcyclophosphamide did indeed increase nanoparticle delivery to the tumor in a statistically significant way.

A secondary, unexpected research project was living alone in Baltimore, a new city to me, surrounded by people much older than I. Even with moving frequently between hotels, AirBnB's, and students' apartments, I strangely reveled in the freedom I had to enjoy my surroundings and form new friendships with graduate school students from the lab. We explored The Inner Harbor at night, attended a concert together one weekend, and even got to watch the Orioles lose (to nobody's surprise). Ironically, it's through these new friendships I discovered something unexpected: what I truly love is sharing research. Whether in a presentation or in a casual conversation, making others interested in science is perhaps more exciting to me than the research itself. This solidified a new pursuit to angle my love for writing towards illuminating science in ways people can understand, adding value to a society that can certainly benefit from more scientific literacy.

It seems fitting that my goals are still transforming: in Scarry's book, there is not just one goldbug, there is one on every page. With each new experience, I'm learning that it isn't the goldbug itself, but rather the act of searching for the goldbugs that will encourage, shape, and refine my ever-evolving passions. Regardless of the goldbug I seek -- I know my pickle truck has just begun its journey.

Renner takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but their essay is just as detailed and engaging. Let's go through some of the strengths of this essay.

One Clear Governing Metaphor

This essay is ultimately about two things: Renner’s dreams and future career goals, and Renner’s philosophy on goal-setting and achieving one’s dreams.

But instead of listing off all the amazing things they’ve done to pursue their dream of working in nanomedicine, Renner tells a powerful, unique story instead. To set up the narrative, Renner opens the essay by connecting their experiences with goal-setting and dream-chasing all the way back to a memorable childhood experience:

This lighthearted–but relevant!--story about the moment when Renner first developed a passion for a specific career (“finding the goldbug”) provides an anchor point for the rest of the essay. As Renner pivots to describing their current dreams and goals–working in nanomedicine–the metaphor of “finding the goldbug” is reflected in Renner’s experiments, rejections, and new discoveries.

Though Renner tells multiple stories about their quest to “find the goldbug,” or, in other words, pursue their passion, each story is connected by a unifying theme; namely, that as we search and grow over time, our goals will transform…and that’s okay! By the end of the essay, Renner uses the metaphor of “finding the goldbug” to reiterate the relevance of the opening story:

While the earlier parts of the essay convey Renner’s core message by showing, the final, concluding paragraph sums up Renner’s insights by telling. By briefly and clearly stating the relevance of the goldbug metaphor to their own philosophy on goals and dreams, Renner demonstrates their creativity, insight, and eagerness to grow and evolve as the journey continues into college.


An Engaging, Individual Voice

This essay uses many techniques that make Renner sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know them.

Technique #1: humor. Notice Renner's gentle and relaxed humor that lightly mocks their younger self's grand ambitions (this is different from the more sarcastic kind of humor used by Stephen in the first essay—you could never mistake one writer for the other).

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver.

I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon.

Renner gives a great example of how to use humor to your advantage in college essays. You don’t want to come off as too self-deprecating or sarcastic, but telling a lightheartedly humorous story about your younger self that also showcases how you’ve grown and changed over time can set the right tone for your entire essay.

Technique #2: intentional, eye-catching structure. The second technique is the way Renner uses a unique structure to bolster the tone and themes of their essay . The structure of your essay can have a major impact on how your ideas come across…so it’s important to give it just as much thought as the content of your essay!

For instance, Renner does a great job of using one-line paragraphs to create dramatic emphasis and to make clear transitions from one phase of the story to the next:

Suddenly the destination of my pickle car was clear.

Not only does the one-liner above signal that Renner is moving into a new phase of the narrative (their nanoparticle research experiences), it also tells the reader that this is a big moment in Renner’s story. It’s clear that Renner made a major discovery that changed the course of their goal pursuit and dream-chasing. Through structure, Renner conveys excitement and entices the reader to keep pushing forward to the next part of the story.

Technique #3: playing with syntax. The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure. Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences. However, at key moments, Renner emphasizes that the reader needs to sit up and pay attention by switching to short, colloquial, differently punctuated, and sometimes fragmented sentences.

Even with moving frequently between hotels, AirBnB's, and students' apartments, I strangely reveled in the freedom I had to enjoy my surroundings and form new friendships with graduate school students from the lab. We explored The Inner Harbor at night, attended a concert together one weekend, and even got to watch the Orioles lose (to nobody's surprise). Ironically, it's through these new friendships I discovered something unexpected: what I truly love is sharing research.

In the examples above, Renner switches adeptly between long, flowing sentences and quippy, telegraphic ones. At the same time, Renner uses these different sentence lengths intentionally. As they describe their experiences in new places, they use longer sentences to immerse the reader in the sights, smells, and sounds of those experiences. And when it’s time to get a big, key idea across, Renner switches to a short, punchy sentence to stop the reader in their tracks.

The varying syntax and sentence lengths pull the reader into the narrative and set up crucial “aha” moments when it’s most important…which is a surefire way to make any college essay stand out.


Renner's essay is very strong, but there are still a few little things that could be improved.

Connecting the research experiences to the theme of “finding the goldbug.”  The essay begins and ends with Renner’s connection to the idea of “finding the goldbug.” And while this metaphor is deftly tied into the essay’s intro and conclusion, it isn’t entirely clear what Renner’s big findings were during the research experiences that are described in the middle of the essay. It would be great to add a sentence or two stating what Renner’s big takeaways (or “goldbugs”) were from these experiences, which add more cohesion to the essay as a whole.

Give more details about discovering the world of nanomedicine. It makes sense that Renner wants to get into the details of their big research experiences as quickly as possible. After all, these are the details that show Renner’s dedication to nanomedicine! But a smoother transition from the opening pickle car/goldbug story to Renner’s “real goldbug” of nanoparticles would help the reader understand why nanoparticles became Renner’s goldbug. Finding out why Renner is so motivated to study nanomedicine–and perhaps what put them on to this field of study–would help readers fully understand why Renner chose this path in the first place.

4 Essential Tips for Writing Your Own Essay

How can you use this discussion to better your own college essay? Here are some suggestions for ways to use this resource effectively.

#1: Get Help From the Experts

Getting your college applications together takes a lot of work and can be pretty intimidatin g. Essays are even more important than ever now that admissions processes are changing and schools are going test-optional and removing diversity standards thanks to new Supreme Court rulings .  If you want certified expert help that really makes a difference, get started with  PrepScholar’s Essay Editing and Coaching program. Our program can help you put together an incredible essay from idea to completion so that your application stands out from the crowd. We've helped students get into the best colleges in the United States, including Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.  If you're ready to take the next step and boost your odds of getting into your dream school, connect with our experts today .

#2: Read Other Essays to Get Ideas for Your Own

As you go through the essays we've compiled for you above, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you explain to yourself (or someone else!) why the opening sentence works well?
  • Look for the essay's detailed personal anecdote. What senses is the author describing? Can you easily picture the scene in your mind's eye?
  • Find the place where this anecdote bridges into a larger insight about the author. How does the essay connect the two? How does the anecdote work as an example of the author's characteristic, trait, or skill?
  • Check out the essay's tone. If it's funny, can you find the places where the humor comes from? If it's sad and moving, can you find the imagery and description of feelings that make you moved? If it's serious, can you see how word choice adds to this tone?

Make a note whenever you find an essay or part of an essay that you think was particularly well-written, and think about what you like about it . Is it funny? Does it help you really get to know the writer? Does it show what makes the writer unique? Once you have your list, keep it next to you while writing your essay to remind yourself to try and use those same techniques in your own essay.


#3: Find Your "A-Ha!" Moment

All of these essays rely on connecting with the reader through a heartfelt, highly descriptive scene from the author's life. It can either be very dramatic (did you survive a plane crash?) or it can be completely mundane (did you finally beat your dad at Scrabble?). Either way, it should be personal and revealing about you, your personality, and the way you are now that you are entering the adult world.

Check out essays by authors like John Jeremiah Sullivan , Leslie Jamison , Hanif Abdurraqib , and Esmé Weijun Wang to get more examples of how to craft a compelling personal narrative.

#4: Start Early, Revise Often

Let me level with you: the best writing isn't writing at all. It's rewriting. And in order to have time to rewrite, you have to start way before the application deadline. My advice is to write your first draft at least two months before your applications are due.

Let it sit for a few days untouched. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and think critically about what you've written. What's extra? What's missing? What is in the wrong place? What doesn't make sense? Don't be afraid to take it apart and rearrange sections. Do this several times over, and your essay will be much better for it!

For more editing tips, check out a style guide like Dreyer's English or Eats, Shoots & Leaves .


What's Next?

Still not sure which colleges you want to apply to? Our experts will show you how to make a college list that will help you choose a college that's right for you.

Interested in learning more about college essays? Check out our detailed breakdown of exactly how personal statements work in an application , some suggestions on what to avoid when writing your essay , and our guide to writing about your extracurricular activities .

Working on the rest of your application? Read what admissions officers wish applicants knew before applying .

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

The recommendations in this post are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links PrepScholar may receive a commission.

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How to Write a Good College Essay

Last Updated: January 9, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 298,678 times.

Writing a college-level essay can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be overwhelming. Instead, break it up into steps. First, read your prompt carefully, then start compiling your research. While an admissions essay is typically on a personal topic, a college academic essay is formal and usually requires scholarly sources. Before you start writing, carefully research your topic and narrow your focus. Then make an outline, which will help you avoid tangents. After you're finished writing, there's still a little work left to do. Take the time to revise and proofread your essay to ensure you're submitting your best work.

Ask the wikiHow College Coach


Beginning Your Essay

Step 1 Read your assignment carefully.

  • For example, “analyze” means to pull apart. The prompt “ Analyze a poem by Charles Baudelaire” is asking you to divide a poem into specific elements and explain how they function.
  • Note any details such as “ Compare and contrast 2 short stories not discussed in class.” Discuss the similarities and differences of your examples' literary devices, and be sure to choose stories that weren't covered in class.
  • Your assignment instructions may include a breakdown of how your work will be graded (e.g., a certain number of points may be awarded based on organization, spelling and grammar, or the strength of your sources). If the grading criteria aren't clearly explained in the instructions, ask your teacher or professor to explain their rubric.
  • If any part of the prompt seems unclear or confusing, don't hesitate to ask your professor for help.

Step 2 Compile your sources...

  • You'll likely need to include primary sources, such as the poem or story you're analyzing, or letters written by the historical figure you're discussing.
  • Secondary sources, such as scholarly articles or books, are publications by experts on your topic. Cite secondary sources to back your argument, or mention a source in your counterargument to refute the claims of its author.
  • If you have trouble tracking down good sources, ask a librarian or your professor for help. Your course syllabus likely includes useful texts, too. Check their reference or further reading sections for additional leads.
  • Your school or university library likely subscribes to academic research databases like EBSCO and J-STOR. Log in to your library's website to access these resources. You can also use free online resources like Google Scholar.

Step 3 Brainstorm...

  • You could write down main ideas or keywords in bubbles or clouds. Draw lines between connected concepts and make smaller bubbles for terms connected to larger ideas.
  • Bullet point lists could help you gain a bird's-eye-view over your material. For a literary analysis, you could list examples for categories such as “Literary Devices” or “Key Events.”
  • Try journaling or free-writing to get your creative juices flowing. Write what you know about the topic for 15 or 20 minutes without censoring your ideas.

Step 4 Organize your ideas...

  • Try to find an overarching argument or idea that encompasses all the major points you want to address.
  • Suppose you need to compare and contrast 2 literary works. You've analyzed each example, and you've identified how their elements function. They both employ nostalgic appeals to emotion, so you'll assert that the works use similar persuasive strategies to advance opposed ideologies.

Step 5 Come up with...

  • You'll include your thesis in the introduction. It lets the reader know exactly what you're trying to prove. Note that you should just write your claim; don't start your thesis with “I will prove that,” or “It will be shown that.”
  • Early in the drafting process, your working thesis could be “Charles Baudelaire's experiences of city life and travel abroad shaped his poetry's central themes.”
  • As your essay takes shape, refine your thesis further: “Drawing on experiences of urban life and exotic travel, Charles Baudelaire reinterpreted la voyage , a primary theme of French Romantic poetry.”

Drafting Your Paper

Step 1 Outline...

  • It's also helpful to plug in your sources and citations where you plan on using them. For instance, next to section III-B-3, write the source you plan on citing, e.g., “Smith, French Poetry , p. 123.”

Step 2 Write your introduction

  • The road map should mention the evidence you'll use to prove the thesis. For example, “Analyses of the key poetic elements, along with discussion of autobiographical excerpts, will show how Baudelaire imagined la voyage as darker and more complicated than his Romantic predecessors.”
  • Some people prefer to write the introduction before making an outline. Do whichever feels more comfortable. Your outline could help you structure your introduction, or your intro might lay out a road map for your outline.

Step 3 Fill in your body paragraphs.

  • In high school, you probably learned to write a basic essay with an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That structure won't work if your argument calls for a more complex structure, or if your paper needs to be 10 or 15 pages.
  • For instance, in the first 2 or 3 paragraphs after the introduction, you'd need to discuss how la voyage was a recurring theme in French Romantic poetry in the 19th Century. [9] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • After establishing how other poets handled the theme, the next logical step is to describe Baudelaire's conception, and to support this description by citing his poetry.
  • Since the thesis argues that this conception owes to his personal experiences, you'd then discuss how city life and travel abroad shaped Baudelaire's poetry.

Step 4 Strengthen your claim by addressing a counterargument.

  • Suppose you've argued that a military conflict was caused by increasing nationalism and competition over resources. A scholar previously claimed that the conflict was solely instigated by the involved nations' authoritarian governments. You'd mention that this argument ignores the underlying tensions that set the stage for the conflict.
  • Good ways to address a counterargument include refutation (where you provide evidence that weakens or disproves the opposing perspective) and rebuttal (in which you offer evidence that shows that your argument is stronger).

Step 5 Pull your points together in your conclusion.

  • For instance, if you argued about how a rising tide of nationalism led to a military conflict, you could write, “Unwillingness to find diplomatic solutions, bolstered by the belief of national superiority, led to this particular conflict. So too, on a global scale, rising tides of nationalism threaten the political and economic bonds of the international community.”

Revising Your Draft

Step 1 Read your essay draft out loud.

  • As you read, consider whether each of your body paragraphs fully supports your thesis.
  • It's helpful to print a copy of your essay so you can write notes and corrections by hand. Additionally, take a break before you begin revising so you can approach your work with fresh eyes. [13] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 2 Write a reverse outline.

  • For example, when you see your essay in outline form, you might realize that the essay would flow better if you changed the order in which you present your main points.

Step 3 Switch up your sentence structures.

  • The sentences, “The first author appeals to readers' emotions. The second author similarly employs pathos,” are boring and repetitive. A better structure could be, “In terms of rhetorical strategy, impassioned appeals to emotion link the pair of short stories.”

Step 4 Make sure you've chosen strong, clear words.

  • Be sure you've used strong, clear verbs. “The expert witness rebutted the defense's claim,” for instance, is stronger than “The expert witness went against the defense's claim.”
  • Double check that you've used the active voice whenever possible. “Baudelaire defined our understanding of modernity,” is stronger than the passive construction, “Modernity was defined by Baudelaire.”

Step 5 Fix any typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors.

  • Be sure to spell check with your brain and not your computer. Your computer probably won't catch a “wear” used instead of “where.”

Step 6 Have someone else proofread your essay.

  • Ask the person to look for more than just spelling and grammatical errors. Have them offer feedback on your argument's structure, and ask them to point out any spots that seem unclear or under-developed. If necessary, revise your essay once more to apply their suggested changes.

How Should You Start a College Essay?

Writing Help

how to write an awesome college essay

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • If you're having trouble with procrastination, break the assignment up into small steps. For example, brainstorm for a while, take a break, then make an outline. Give yourself a little reward when you accomplish a task. [18] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Be sure to use academic language . Avoid slang, contractions, and other informal language. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Jake Adams

To write a good college essay, start by developing a concise thesis that clearly asserts your claim. As you write the essay and your thoughts evolve, so will your thesis, so don’t forget to revise it as you go. One you have a working thesis, craft an introduction that lays the groundwork for your claims. Following your introduction, you should include several body paragraphs, each of which should focus on one main topic that will help support the thesis. Finally, end your essay with a conclusion that offers a resolution to the subject. To learn how to revise your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Write A Winning College Admission Essay

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The college admission essay is a pivotal component of your application. It represents more than just an opportunity to showcase your writing skills; it is a platform where your personality, aspirations, and dedication are conveyed directly to the admissions committee. Unlike standardized test scores and GPAs, the essay adds a personal dimension to your profile, allowing the committee to see the person behind the numbers. This article will guide you through crafting a compelling admission essay that stands out, providing practical tips on understanding the prompt, organizing your thoughts, and expressing your unique story effectively.

Start With The Prompt

First, it is crucial to fully understand the essay prompt. The prompt provides the direction your essay should take and is fundamental in shaping your narrative. Start by reading the prompt several times and highlighting keywords or phrases that indicate the focus of your essay. For instance, if the prompt asks about a “challenge you’ve overcome,” your essay should not only describe the challenge but also reflect on the personal growth that resulted from the experience.

Many students find this stage intimidating and may benefit from brainstorming sessions or discussions to better grasp the essay’s requirements. Utilizing resources like WritePaper can be particularly helpful during this phase, as they offer guidance and examples of how to break down and address complex prompts effectively. Remember, understanding the prompt is the first step in crafting an essay that resonates with admissions officers and aligns perfectly with what they are looking for in potential students.

Planning Your Essay

Once you have a clear understanding of the essay prompt, the next step is planning your essay. This stage is about organizing your thoughts and deciding the best way to present your story. Think about personal experiences, achievements, or lessons learned that could form the basis of your essay. It’s helpful to jot down any thoughts and stories that come to mind without censoring yourself. After you have a list of ideas, start looking for connections and themes that could tie your essay together cohesively.

Creating an outline is an invaluable part of the planning process. This outline should include an introduction that catches attention, body paragraphs that delve deeper into your narrative, and a conclusion that ties everything together. Ensure each part of your essay serves a purpose and contributes to the overall message or story you are trying to convey. Your outline will guide your writing and keep your content on track, ensuring that each paragraph flows logically to the next. Planning might seem time-consuming, but it saves considerable effort during the actual writing and editing stages, making your essay more structured and impactful.

Crafting a Strong Introduction

The introduction of your college admission essay plays a critical role in grabbing the attention of the admissions committee. Start with a compelling hook—a brief anecdote, a surprising statistic, or a poignant question. This hook should be directly related to the main theme of your essay and lead smoothly into your thesis statement, which succinctly presents the central idea of your narrative.

For instance, if your essay is about perseverance, you might begin with a moment where you faced a significant challenge. Describe the setting and your initial emotions to draw readers into your experience. The introduction should give a glimpse of the personal qualities you will discuss and set up the story that illustrates these qualities. Remember, the introduction is your first impression; make it count by being clear, engaging, and reflective of your voice.

Developing the Body Paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you can elaborate on your story and the insights you’ve gained. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your narrative, supporting the thesis stated in your introduction. Use concrete details and personal reflections to add depth to your narrative. Discuss not only what happened but also why it matters—connect your personal growth or lessons learned to the broader theme of the essay.

Ensure that each body paragraph transitions smoothly to the next. This can be achieved by using transition sentences that link the ideas and maintain the flow of your narrative. Additionally, vary your sentence structure and use vivid language to keep the reader’s interest. This is your opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores, so be authentic and honest in your storytelling.

Concluding Effectively

Your conclusion is your chance to leave a lasting impression on the reader. It should not merely summarize the points you’ve already made but rather highlight the significance of your experiences and how they have prepared you for college. A strong conclusion will tie back to the introduction, perhaps by reflecting on the same anecdote or idea but with the insight or growth you’ve gained.

Consider how the experiences you’ve discussed in your essay demonstrate qualities like resilience, creativity, or empathy. Use your conclusion to articulate how these attributes will contribute to your future success, both academically and personally. This section should reinforce the idea that you are a thoughtful, reflective individual who is ready to take on the challenges of college life.

Revision and Editing

The final step in crafting your college admission essay is revision and editing. Begin by revisiting your essay after a short break—it’s easier to spot errors and inconsistencies with fresh eyes. Read your essay aloud to ensure it sounds natural and flows smoothly. Check for any grammatical mistakes, awkward phrasing, or clichés that could weaken your essay.

Ask your peers or professors to review your essay. They can offer valuable feedback on clarity and impact, as well as catch errors you might have missed. Take their critiques seriously, but also make sure the final essay remains true to your voice and vision. Remember, a well-polished essay speaks volumes about your attention to detail and commitment to your college application.

By following these steps and dedicating time to each part of the process, you can write a powerful and persuasive college admission essay that showcases your strengths and potential.

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  • College essay
  • How to Write a College Essay Fast | Tips & Examples

How to Write a College Essay Fast | Tips & Examples

Published on November 5, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on December 8, 2023.

Table of contents

Organize: set yourself deadlines with breaks, brainstorm: your values and related stories, outline: choose a montage or narrative essay structure, write: be specific, personal, and unique, revise: content, clarity, and grammar, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Whether you have hours, days, or weeks, set deadlines for yourself with built-in breaks. In general, you should divide your time accordingly:

  • 10% brainstorming
  • 10% outlining
  • 40% writing
  • 30% revising
  • 10% taking breaks between stages

If you have a few hours …

Brainstorming 15–30 minutes
Outlining 15–30 minutes
Writing 2–3 hours
Revising 1–2 hours

If you have a few days …

Brainstorming Day 1
Outlining Day 1
Writing Days 1, 2, and 3
Revising Days 2 and 3

If you have a week …

Brainstorming Days 1 and 2
Outlining Days 1 and 2
Writing Days 2–5
Revising Days 6–7

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

To brainstorm your topic fast, start by doing the following exercises.

Questions Example brainstorm
Top 5 things I want colleges to know about me
My top 5 core identities
related to my personality and character
3 things that make me different from other applicants
5 meaningful life moments from the past 3–4 years
If you already have a prompt, brainstorm 3–5 stories that relate to your prompt. prompt #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Choose the stories that have the most compelling value or narrative. Make sure these stories are:

  • Meaningful to you
  • Specific (not a broad summary of your life)
  • Unique to you (another student couldn’t replicate it)

If you have a single story that showcases how you overcame a challenge or chronicles your personal growth over time, you should use a narrative structure . This type of essay tells a story, usually in chronological order. If you have very limited time, this structure is easier.

If there’s a common theme among several of your stories, you could use a montage structure , which strings together several stories (for example, to showcase different aspects of your identity). If you have more than a few hours to work on your essay, you may want to try out this structure.

To make your essay stand out , write your story in a way that no other student can replicate. As you write, keep these tips in mind:

  • Zoom in on specific moments rather than summarizing a long period of time.
  • Be vulnerable and share your honest feelings and thoughts.
  • Use your authentic voice and an appropriate tone .
  • Keep the focus on you, not another person.
  • Describe sensory details to create vivid scenes.

Make sure to build in enough time to revise your essay . Ideally, you should aim for three rounds of revision to check for content, clarity, and grammar.

If you don’t have time to fix everything, focus on making sure your writing is clear and grammatically correct. You can do this with the help of a grammar checker and paraphrasing tool . If you want to check your entire document at once, you can use an essay checker .

In your first reading, focus on content:

  • Does it answer the prompt?
  • Does it focus on me, not someone else?
  • Does it have a clear and well-structured narrative?
  • Do my stories “show, not tell”?

In your second reading, focus on clarity and flow:

  • Is my essay easy to read?
  • Are my word choice and tone conversational but respectful?
  • Do I have a good mixture of complex and simple sentence structures?

In your third reading, focus on grammar and punctuation:

  • Is my writing grammatically correct?
  • If I bend language rules, is it clear that it’s intentional and not a mistake?

If you have time, get help from an essay coach or editor; they’ll have specialized knowledge of college admissions essays and be able to give objective expert feedback. Scribbr essay editors can help you revise your essay in 12 hours or less.

Meeting the word count

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay. Scribbr’s essay editors can also help reduce your word count by up to 25%.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Transition words
  • Passive voice
  • Paraphrasing


  • How to end an email
  • Ms, mrs, miss
  • How to start an email
  • I hope this email finds you well
  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjunctions

If you’ve got to write your college essay fast , don’t panic. First, set yourself deadlines: you should spend about 10% of your remaining time on brainstorming, 10% on outlining, 40% writing, 30% revising, and 10% taking breaks in between stages.

Second, brainstorm stories and values based on your essay prompt.

Third, outline your essay based on the montage or narrative essay structure .

Fourth, write specific, personal, and unique stories that would be hard for other students to replicate.

Fifth, revise your essay and make sure it’s clearly written.

Last, if possible, get feedback from an essay coach . Scribbr essay editors can help you revise your essay in 12 hours or less.

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay.

When revising your college essay , first check for big-picture issues regarding your message and content. Then, check for flow, tone, style , and clarity. Finally, focus on eliminating grammar and punctuation errors .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Courault, K. (2023, December 08). How to Write a College Essay Fast | Tips & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

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The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Personal Statement and the Supplemental Essays

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Brittany Maschal

The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Personal Statement and the Supplemental Essays Paperback – July 19, 2021

Want to write memorable college application essays in less time, with less stress? This book will guide you through the process, with hands-on activities, practical tips, and tons of real application essays—personal statements and supplemental essays—by real students!

Finally—the book you’ve been waiting for! The Complete College Essay Handbook demystifies the entire college essay writing process with easy-to-follow directions and hands-on activities that have worked for hundreds of students. Maschal, a former admissions officer, and Wood, a professional writer and writing teacher, draw on their combined expertise to help students craft a successful set of application essays for every school on their list. Supplemental essays in particular can seem overwhelming—some schools ask students to write as many as six essays in addition to the personal statement. Maschal and Wood identify four types of supplemental essays, walking students through how to write each one and then how to recycle these essays for other schools.

The Complete College Essay Handbook walks students through:

  • What makes an essay stand out, drawing on sample essays by real students to illustrate main points
  • Brainstorming activities to find the best topics for the personal statement and supplemental essays
  • How to write the two central components of every application essay: scene and reflection
  • Editing and revision—including techniques to cut down or expand an essay to hit the word limit
  • The four types of supplemental essays and how to decode the different essay prompts, using actual essay questions
  • The strategy behind a well-rounded set of application essays

The Complete College Essay Handbook is a no-frills, practical guide that will give students the confidence and know-how they need to craft the best essays for every single school on their list—in less time and with less stress.

This book is for students, high school teachers and counselors, parents, and anyone else who wants to help students through the college essay writing process.

  • Print length 212 pages
  • Language English
  • Publication date July 19, 2021
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 173731598X
  • ISBN-13 978-1737315988
  • See all details

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ 1 (July 19, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 212 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 173731598X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1737315988
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
  • #535 in College Guides (Books)
  • #714 in College Entrance Test Guides (Books)

About the author

Brittany maschal.

Dr. Brittany Maschal is the founder of Brittany Maschal Consulting, LLC, an educational consulting firm that works with students applying to college and graduate school.

Brittany has held positions in admissions and student services at the University of Pennsylvania at Penn Law and The Wharton School; Princeton University (undergraduate) and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; and the Johns Hopkins University-Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She has served on admissions committees with American Councils for International Education and International Research and Exchanges Board; as an invited speaker to numerous community programs in the US and abroad; and as an alumni interviewer and admissions representative for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Brittany was also an Executive Board member and Membership Director of the Penn GSE Alumni Association.

Brittany received her doctorate in higher education from the George Washington University in 2012. Prior, she attended the University of Pennsylvania for her master’s, and the University of Vermont for her bachelor’s degree—a degree she obtained in three years. Brittany is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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Customers find the themes in the book comprehensive, inspiring, and personal. They also say it's a gem of a book, chock full of real essays by real students. Customers also appreciate the brainstorming exercises and writing prompts.

"...was the emphasis on how students can find a meaningful and very personal story in seemingly small every day events, coupled with the very practical..." Read more

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how to write an awesome college essay

100+ Eye-Opening Social Issues Topics for Your Next Essay

In this article, we’ll share a massive list of social issues topics for your academic papers.

College students often struggle with choosing a topic worthy of this type of essay. Social issues are controversial and, thus, challenging to cover. This article is here to help you with the job. You’ll learn how to choose a good topic on social issues, how to write about them, and what social issue-related topics are worth covering this year.

And remember:

When in doubt, you can always share a “ write my essay ” request and get our experts to assist you with your writing tasks.

What Are Social Issues?

Social issues are problems affecting a large group of people within a society. They are states of affairs that negatively impact personal or social lives, and there is usually disagreement about their nature, causes, and potential solutions.

Top 5 current social issue niches:

  • War. Do you know that 50+ armed conflicts are taking place around the world today? Not only do wars cause suffering and loss, but they also affect economies and social stability.
  • Climate change. We already feel the effects (weather changes, sea levels rising, and natural disasters happening more frequently), so it’s time to act towards reducing our carbon footprint.
  • Gender equality. Despite some progress being made in recent years, it remains a significant problem in many countries.
  • Mental health / addiction. There’s still a stigma surrounding these issues, preventing people from seeking help and getting affordable treatment options.
  • Income inequality. Only 1% of the world’s population owns more than half of the world’s wealth, a gap that leads to social unrest.

How to Choose Good Social Topics for Essays

Talking about social issues is essential because they influence human rights and social progress. If you know how to write a narrative essay , you understand the power a story can have on minds, emotions, and decisions. So, in writing about social issues, we highlight the power of collective action and our shared responsibility to work towards justice, sustainable development, and positive change for the sake of peaceful coexistence.

How to Choose Good Social Topics for Essays?

How do you know that the social topics you plan to cover in your essay are worth discussing?

These are your three steps to take when choosing an essay topic:

  • Spend time on research. Do you remember how to write a book title in an essay ? Check out some of those reputable and academically approved books to determine your area of interest and see if you have enough sources to use as references to support the claims in your essay.
  • Consider trending topics. Choose current social issues for your paper: The audience is more emotional about them, and they’ll allow you to gain more recognition and responses.
  • Add a personal touch. Write about issues that bother you personally: It will help you create an original essay with a unique perspective while engaging a broader audience.

How to Write About Social Issues

How to Write About Social Issues

  • Decide on a clear thesis on the social issue you’ll support and explore in your essay.
  • Consider the audience. (How much do your readers know about your topic? Will they understand your point if you use specific terms? How involved are they in the issue?)
  • Support your claims with evidence and examples. (For that, remind yourself how to write an argumentative essay .)
  • Keep it simple. (Use the right words and clear language to express your point and explain what you mean. Do your best to avoid causing misunderstandings and confusing your readers.)
  • Format the draft and cite your references according to the assigned citation style. (This is how to write an essay in APA format , for example.)
  • Remember to edit and proofread your draft. (Ensure the message is clear, logical, and coherent; check for typos as well as grammatical and stylistic mistakes.)

Social Issues Topics: 11 Areas to Cover in Your Essays

Below is a massive list of social issues topics for your essays or other college papers. All are brand new and related to the prevailing social issues today. So, scroll down to the subcategory you are interested in — and choose a topic you’ll cover.

Environmental social issues topics

Let’s start with ecological and climate change-related topics. You could consider some of them when learning how to write a diagnostic essay , but these are fresh enough to discuss in your argumentative or critical papers as well.

  • Renewable energy: How to lower carbon emissions
  • Deforestation and its impact on global biodiversity
  • The future of sustainable agriculture in combating climate change
  • The ethics of geoengineering as a solution to climate change
  • Climate change and its effect on global migration trends
  • Environmental injustice: Climate change’s toll on marginalized communities
  • The role of corporate responsibility in environmental sustainability
  • Climate change education: Integrating ecological awareness into school curricula
  • The effect of ocean acidification on marine life
  • Sustainable urban development: Balancing growth and ecological preservation

War and peace topics

  • How international organizations like the UN mediate and resolve conflicts
  • The impact of war on mental health
  • War and technological advancements: Dual-use dilemmas
  • The influence of propaganda on modern warfare
  • Child soldiers: Causes, consequences, and rehabilitation
  • Economic implications of prolonged conflicts
  • Women’s contributions to peacekeeping and conflict resolution
  • Cyber warfare: The new frontier of global conflict
  • The humanitarian crisis in war zones: Case studies and responses
  • The post-war reconstruction and development of Ukraine

Topics on discrimination and prejudice

The ten social issues topics below will work best for your papers on discrimination and the different prejudices related to it.

Topics on discrimination and prejudice

  • Systemic racism in criminal justice systems
  • The impact of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation on community well-being
  • Discrimination in healthcare: Barriers to access for marginalized groups
  • Challenges and solutions to dealing with ageism in the workplace
  • Cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation
  • The impact of immigration policies on racial discrimination
  • Religious discrimination in secular societies
  • Discrimination in education: What’s the gap?
  • The role of allyship in combating prejudice
  • Gender bias in STEM fields

Humanity topics

  • The ethics of autonomous weapons systems in warfare
  • Human rights violations in modern supply chains
  • The role of art and culture in promoting human rights
  • Philanthropy and its impact on the alleviation of global poverty
  • The right to privacy in the digital age
  • Human trafficking: Causes, consequences, and prevention
  • Genetic engineering and human enhancement: Ethical considerations
  • The global refugee crisis: Causes and responses
  • Education as a catalyst for fostering global citizenship
  • Human rights and environmental justice

Essay topics on immigration

Due to the numerous military conflicts worldwide, we can’t ignore migration and immigration topics in our papers. Here are some ideas:

  • How immigration affects host nations
  • Cultural integration vs. cultural preservation among immigrants
  • Technology’s role in streamlining immigration procedures
  • The psychological impact of immigration on children
  • The influence of media on the public perception of immigration
  • Sanctuary cities: Policies and controversies
  • The effect of immigration policies on family unity
  • Skilled vs. unskilled immigration: Economic and social implications
  • The role of international organizations in protecting migrants’ rights
  • Climate change as a driver of migration

You should also check our Sociology Research Paper sample before writing an essay on any of the above topics. It will help you understand the nature and structure of this type of writing better.

Mental health / addiction topics

Mental health addiction topics

  • Perspectives on and stigma attached to mental illness in different cultures
  • The effectiveness of teletherapy in mental health treatment
  • The connection between social media and anxiety disorders
  • The role community plays in supporting addiction recovery
  • Mental health resources in educational institutions
  • The impact of work culture on employee mental health
  • Genetic and environmental factors in substance abuse disorders
  • Innovative approaches to treating PTSD in veterans
  • How diet and exercise influence mental health
  • The role of policy in addressing the opioid crisis

LGBTQ+ essay topics

To celebrate and praise Pride Month in June or give these social issue topics more publicity, try any of the titles below for your next essay:

  • The legalization of same-sex marriage and its societal impact
  • The representation of LGBTQ+ individuals in media
  • Challenges facing LGBTQ+ youths in educational institutions
  • Health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community
  • Advancing LGBTQ+ rights: The crucial role of allies
  • Intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community
  • The impact of religious beliefs on LGBTQ+ acceptance
  • Transgender rights: Legal and social challenges
  • The history and evolution of the Pride movements
  • LGBTQ+ representation in politics

Violence-related topics

  • The psychology of violent behavior
  • Domestic violence: Causes, consequences, and prevention
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of gun control legislation in reducing violence
  • The role of media in perpetuating violence
  • Violence in schools: Causes and prevention
  • The impact of war on civilian populations
  • Gang violence and community responses
  • The effect of substance abuse on violent behavior
  • Gender-based violence: Global perspectives and solutions
  • The role of law enforcement in preventing violence

Social justice topics for essays

Why not try social issues essay topics related to social justice? For more practice or assistance before researching and outlining, check our writers’ Social Media Essay sample .

Social justice topics for essays

  • The impact of economic inequality on social justice
  • Criminal justice reform and social justice
  • The role of education in promoting social justice
  • Environmental justice: Addressing disparities in environmental health
  • Social justice movements: Strategies and outcomes
  • Healthcare inequities and social justice
  • The intersection of technology and social justice
  • The role of art and culture in social justice advocacy
  • Social justice and labor rights
  • Housing inequality and social justice

Human rights and equality topics

  • The universal declaration of human rights: Successes and shortcomings
  • Freedom of speech vs. hate speech: Balancing rights and protection
  • How international organizations uphold human rights
  • Human rights violations in authoritarian regimes
  • Gender equality: Progress and persistent challenges
  • The right to education: Barriers and solutions
  • The impact of globalization on human rights
  • Disability rights and inclusion
  • Civil society’s influence on the progress of human rights 
  • Human rights in the digital age

Social issue topics related to animal abuse

  • Ethical dilemmas in using animal testing for scientific gain
  • Factory farming and animal welfare
  • The role of legislation in preventing animal cruelty
  • Is there any connection between human violence and animal abuse?
  • Wildlife trafficking: Causes, consequences, and solutions
  • The ethics of zoos and aquariums
  • Animal rights vs. cultural practices
  • Addressing Pet Overpopulation: The Significance of Spaying and Neutering
  • How climate change impacts animal habitats
  • Promoting animal welfare through education and advocacy

Over to You

With so many brand new social issues topics handed to you on a plate, which one will you choose for your next essay?

Whatever your topic, remember to revise the final draft via plagiarism checkers and a reputable AI writing checker to ensure your essay looks professional and original.

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How to Write the Wake Forest Supplemental Essays 2023–2024

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Wake Forest University , founded in 1834, fosters leadership , altruism , and international exchange in their student body. With campus buildings all around the world and an NCAA Division I football team , Wake Forest provides many unique opportunities for their students. If you’re hoping to cheer on the Demon Deacon , you’ll need to nail your Wake Forest supplemental essays. Let’s dive in.

Wake Forest University campus

Wake Forest’s 2023-2024 Prompts

The four Wake Forest supplemental essays may look intimidating, but two of them are only lists. In other words, with some forethought and intention, these essays don’t have to monopolize your time during a busy college application season. That said, you’ll have the best shot at writing a strong essay if you fully understand what each prompt is asking before beginning your drafts. So let’s break those prompts down.

List five books you’ve read that have intrigued you.

  • Tell us what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity. This can include a work you’ve read, a project you’ve completed for a class, and even co-curricular activities in which you have been involved. (150 words or fewer)

Dr. Maya Angelou, renowned author, poet, civil-rights activist, and former Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor of American Studies, inspired others to celebrate their identities and to honor each person’s dignity. Choose one of Dr. Angelou’s powerful quotes. How does this quote relate to your lived experience or reflect how you plan to contribute to the Wake Forest community? (300 words or fewer)

Give us your top ten list. (the choice of theme is yours.) (100 characters or fewer per line).

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General Tips

All four of these prompts seek to understand who you are as a person. Moreover, your Wake Forest supplemental essays most likely can’t be reused easily for another school’s application. For this reason, you’ll need to set aside some extra time to answer these prompts and revise your drafts. This being said, here are some tips to make that revision process go just a bit faster.

  • Free-write before you start drafting. This might sound like it’ll just make the process go slower, but many students’ writing processes are stalled by using the drafting process as a brainstorming exercise. Instead of taking the time to explore different essay ideas, they jump directly into writing. As a result, that writing turns out directionless and takes longer to edit. By giving yourself a 10-minute free-writing session before you begin drafting, you can get all those messy ideas out on the page. Although a 10-minute session doesn’t sound like much, it will feel pretty long if you make yourself write the whole time. Afterward, you should have a much better sense of what you’d like to focus on in in your writing.
  • Start with intention . Following on that last point, you’ll want to start your essays with intention. For prompts 2 and 3, this might look like composing an outline. Alternatively, you can come up with a thesis statement or guiding idea to reference as you write. Regardless of your methodology, starting with intention will help you accelerate your revision process by producing a stronger draft the first time around.
  • Be specific. Perhaps the number one issue students face in college essays is a lack of specificity. Essays that use generalizations or rely on abstract language instead of concrete details tend to be less vivid and personal. Remember, these are personal essays . That means that any essay you write should sound like you. With each sentence, think to yourself, could someone else have written this? If so, perhaps a different, more specific sentence would be better. Ultimately, specificity will help your essays stand out from the crowd.

Wake Forest Short Essay Questions

This is a very open-ended short essay question, but you’re not expected to write anything about the books you choose to list. Nor are you expected to explain why they intrigued you. There is no official maximum word count, but don’t take that as license to write whatever you please. For this prompt at least, the assignment is as simple as it seems. A list of any five books that have intrigued, for whatever reason, will suffice.

Can it really be that easy? Many students worry that their list has to be especially intellectual or diverse. If the books that have intrigued you happen to be especially intellectual or diverse, then that’s great. But if not, it’s best to be authentic. All the admissions team is looking for in this response is to learn more about you. There’s no secret trick or unspoken expectation.

Again, authenticity is key here. Having combed through the rest of your application materials, possibly conducted a virtual interview with you, and read your teacher recommendations, the admissions team will have a pretty good sense of who you are. If your list of books doesn’t sound quite right given everything else they know about you, it’s not a good look. In other words, it’s in your best interest to list five books that you have actually read and found intriguing. Don’t stress about it! This should be one of the easiest college essays you have to write.

Tell us what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity. This can include a work you’ve read, a project you’ve completed for a class, and even co-curricular activities in which you have been involved. (150 words or fewer)

This essay question follows the prior question by digging deeper into your interests and pursuits. More than the prior question, your response to this question should have an intellectual element. You can write about a book you’ve found engaging (including one from the list above), and explain how you learned about the world in the process of reading it. Alternatively, you can discuss something you’ve accomplished or pursued, whether as a personal project or an assignment for a class.

The prompt also provides room for “co-curricular activities” as a topic for your essay. Unlike extracurricular activities, co-curricular activities are complementary to your school’s curriculum. That said, extracurricular activities that are important to you might still fit in this prompt’s purview. The prompt uses the word “includes,” so it clarifies that a flexible interpretation is encouraged.

The important part is in the first sentence of the prompt: “what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity.” Therefore, whatever you choose to discuss must fit this description. Whether the topic of your essay is extracurricular or co-curricular, pursued individually or with in a group, read or seen or heard, is less important. Most important is that you name something that has intellectually engaged you and briefly explain that engagement to the reader.

This prompt has the highest word limit of the four Wake Forest supplemental essays. Therefore, it will likely take the longest time to compose and polish. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to work on your response, and consider writing this essay response first to get it out of the way. Note also that there is a bit of research required. You will need to identify a quote by Maya Angelou that speaks to you.

While researching your quote of choice, be sure to only use reputable sources. The internet often lists false quote attributions, and if you’re not paying attention, it can be easy to fall for them. Consider taking a Maya Angelou book out from the library (or e-library) to read. You may not have time to read the book thoroughly, but you can focus on a particular passage or section and choose a sentence or two that speaks to you.

Make sure that whatever quote you choose, you understand the context behind it. Again, it can be helpful to read some of Dr. Angelou’s work in conjunction with your quote, even if the quote itself is brief. Doing so will allow you to better understand what Dr. Angelou meant when she wrote the quote.

Ultimately, though, this essay is about sharing your life experience with the reader. This experience could be past, present, or future. For instance, you could explain that you resonate with your chosen quote because of a specific past experience. Alternatively, you could describe how the philosophy behind the quote reflects your choices and behavior today. Or, if you prefer, you could focus on how you hope to take in this quote’s message to guide who you hope to become at Wake Forest.

However you choose to approach the second part of the prompt, be sure to devote at least half of these essay to discuss your relationship with the quote. Although this essay is ostensibly about Dr. Angelou’s words, ultimately, her quote is just another avenue through which the Wake Forest admissions team hopes to get to know you.

This prompt is perhaps the most open-ended of all the Wake Forest supplemental essays. You’ll need to compose ten lines of writing, each line limited to 100 characters or fewer. This means you have 1,000 characters to work with total, or approximately 140-250 words. That looks like a half to a full page of writing double-spaced. However, you might not need (or want) to fill out all of those lines completely.

This prompt seeks to understand your interests, preferences, what you find fun, and/or what intellectually engages you. Like the first prompt, there is no hidden agenda here. You can go in a variety of directions with this prompt. List your top ten movies, your top ten quotes, your top ten national parks, or anything else that comes to mind.

Consider the parts of your personality that aren’t otherwise coming through in your application. What passions, interests, or hobbies are important to you? If they’re a part of who you are, then they may be worth delving into here. If you’re having trouble coming up with topics, try researching top ten lists online to get some inspiration. Good luck!

If you need help polishing up your Wake Forest supplemental essays, check out our College Essay Review service. You can receive detailed feedback from Ivy League consultants in as little as 24 hours.

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How to Write an Introduction Paragraph: Examples and Guide

There are times when an introduction predicts what your entire essay will say—it’s essentially a reflection. If done successfully, it grabs the reader’s attention and entices them to read further into the essay. As a writer, I know the importance of a strong and engaging introduction, and with practice, I have excelled in the art of writing a good intro. Here’s how you can write a compelling introduction with examples.

The Purpose of the Introduction Paragraph

A good introduction serves as a roadmap for your essay, setting the stage for what is to come. Its primary purpose is to grab the reader’s attention, provide necessary background information, and clearly state the main argument or thesis of the essay. By doing so, it helps the reader transition from their own world into the context of your analysis, making them interested in reading further. A well-written introduction also outlines the structure of the essay, ensuring that the reader knows what to expect in the body paragraphs. This initial section is crucial for making a strong first impression, establishing the tone, and demonstrating the quality and direction of your work. A good introduction paragraph should be able to:

Engage the Reader: Capture interest with an intriguing opening sentence or a compelling story.

Provide Context: Offer background information needed to understand the topic.

State the Thesis: Clearly present your main argument or thesis statement.

Outline the Structure: Briefly mention the main points or sections covered in the essay.

Establish Relevance: Explain why the topic is important and worth discussing.

Set the Tone: Establish the style and tone of your writing.

Write an Introduction Paragraph

An introduction paragraph sets the tone for your entire essay, shaping your reader's expectations and mood. It's like the gateway to your ideas - a good one hooks the reader, compelling them to continue, while a weak introduction might make them lose interest before they've even begun. That's why learning how to start an introduction paragraph for an essay is crucial for students and writers alike.

With tools like WPS Office at your fingertips, you're not just getting a word processor, but an AI assistant to guide you through the entire journey of crafting that perfect opening. In fact, I'll be using WPS Office for this tutorial to demonstrate its features. So, let's dive in and explore how to write an essay introduction step by step:

The hook is the opening sentence or a few sentences of an essay designed to grab the reader's attention and entice them to keep reading. It serves to engage the reader by presenting something intriguing, surprising, or relevant to the essay's topic.

The main purpose of the hook is to spark the reader's interest and make them want to read more. It's the first impression the reader gets, so it needs to be compelling and relevant to the essay's subject.

1.Start with a Surprising Fact or Statistic: Begin with an interesting or shocking fact that relates to your topic. This immediately grabs the reader's attention.

Bad Example: "Drunk driving is a serious issue."

Good Example: "Every year, over 1.25 million people die in car accidents, many of which are caused by drunk driving."

2.Use a Quote: Introduce your essay with a relevant quote that encapsulates your main point.

Bad Example: "Drunk driving is defined as driving while impaired by alcohol."

Good Example: “At eighteen, Michelle had a lifetime of promise in front of her. Attending college on a track scholarship, she was earning good grades and making lots of friends. Then one night her life was forever altered…”

3.Pose a Rhetorical Question: Ask a question that provokes thought and engages the reader.

Bad Example: "Have you ever driven a car?"

Good Example: "What if every time you got behind the wheel, you risked not only your life but the lives of others?"

4.Tell an Anecdote or Story: Share a brief, compelling story that relates to your topic.

Bad Example: "I once heard a story about a drunk driver."

Good Example: "At eighteen, Michelle had a lifetime of promise in front of her. Attending college on a track scholarship, she was earning good grades and making lots of friends. Then one night her life was forever altered..."

If you need ideas to help you improve on the hook for your introduction, consider providing WPS AI with a prompt such as:

"Write an introduction on the topic 'Risks of Driving Intoxicated' and provide four individual hooks: one with a surprising fact, one using a quote, one with rhetorical questions, and one through telling an anecdote."

WPS AI will produce a catchy hook statement that you can use for your introduction, such as:

Background Information

Background information provides the reader with the necessary context to understand the essay's topic. This may include historical, geographical, or social context, definitions of key terms, or an outline of the debate surrounding the topic.

The background helps to bridge the gap between the hook and the thesis statement. It gives the reader the context they need to understand the main argument of the essay and why it's important.

1.Provide Context: Explain the broader context of your topic to show its significance.

Bad Example: "Drunk driving is bad."

Good Example: "Michelle's story is not isolated. Each year, over 1.25 million people die in car accidents, many of which are caused by drunk driving."

2.Introduce Key Terms and Concepts: Define any terms or concepts that are crucial to understanding your thesis.

Bad Example: "Drunk driving is when you drink alcohol and drive."

Good Example: "Drunk driving, legally defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, is a preventable cause of many fatalities."

3.Set Up the Problem: Briefly discuss the scope of the issue or debate you will be addressing.

Bad Example: "People drive drunk sometimes."

Good Example: "Despite strict laws, drunk driving continues to be a significant problem worldwide, leading to devastating consequences for victims and their families."

To give an effective and detailed background information in your introduction consider proving WPS AI with a prompt like this:

“This serves as the background to my introduction: 'People frequently choose to drive under the influence of alcohol.' Please enhance it to address the problem and discuss its scope."

WPS AI will produce a detailed background passage for your introduction, give as:

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay. It usually appears at the end of the introduction and states the essay's central argument or position.

The thesis statement guides the direction of the essay by informing the reader what the essay will argue or discuss. It sets the tone and focus of the entire paper.

1.Be Clear and Specific: Clearly state your main point and how you will support it.

Bad Example: "This essay will talk about drunk driving."

Good Example: "Drunk driving laws need to include stricter penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to reduce accidents and save lives."

2.Make an Argument: Present a claim that requires evidence and can be debated.

Bad Example: "Drunk driving is bad and should be stopped."

Good Example: "Implementing harsher penalties for drunk driving will deter offenders and significantly decrease the number of alcohol-related accidents."

3.Outline Your Main Points: Indicate the main points you will cover in your essay to support your thesis.

Bad Example: "I will discuss the problems with drunk driving."

Good Example: "Stricter penalties are necessary because they act as a deterrent, they can prevent repeat offenses, and they provide justice for victims."

You can take help from WPS AI to extract the thesis statement of your essay using the WPS AI chat box.

Step 1: Click on the WPS AI widget at the top corner of the WPS Writer interface.

Step 2: The WPS AI pane will open on the right side of the screen. Type in your prompt to extract the thesis statement of your essay and then paste the essay.

Here is a prompt example that you can use:

"Extract the thesis statement from the following essay:"

Step 3: WPS AI will provide the thesis statement. To refine it further, engage with the WPS AI chatbot by asking more questions or queries.

The summary or road map briefly outlines how the essay will be structured. It provides a preview of the main points that will be covered, giving the reader a sense of the direction of the argument.

1.Summarize Main Points: Briefly mention the key arguments or points you will discuss in your essay.

Bad Example: "I will talk about drunk driving laws, penalties, and justice."

Good Example: "This essay will first examine the current state of drunk driving laws, then explore the impact of stricter penalties on reducing incidents, and finally discuss how these penalties can bring justice to victims."

2.Be Concise: Keep it short and to the point, providing a clear outline without going into too much detail.

Bad Example: "I will write about drunk driving and why it is bad."

Good Example: "By examining the effectiveness of current laws, the potential benefits of stricter penalties, and the importance of justice for victims, this essay argues that harsher punishments for drunk driving are essential."

“Write a concise summary for the introduction of an essay on the topic "Risks of Driving Intoxicated." The summary should briefly mention the key points that will be covered in the essay, without going into too much detail."

The summary should briefly outline the main points covered in the essay, emphasizing the societal impact, legal ramifications, and personal consequences of driving under the influence. Ensure clarity and coherence, setting the stage for a comprehensive exploration of the topic in the subsequent sections.

Examples of Different Essays

Essays come in various forms, each serving a unique purpose and following specific structures. Understanding these different types can help you write an essay introduction more effectively. Let's explore three common types of essays: Argumentative, Expository, and Literary. Each example below demonstrates the key elements of its respective essay type, including the hook, background information, and thesis statement.


An argumentative essay aims to present a position on a topic and support it with evidence.

An expository essay explains a topic in a clear and concise manner without arguing a specific position.

A literary essay analyzes and interprets a work of literature, focusing on elements such as theme, character, or style.

More Examples of Different Topics

Let's take a look at some sample introductions of essays in different disciplines. This will further help you in writing an effective essay introduction.

Example #1 Medicine

Example #2 literature, example #3 social sciences, example #4 engineering, example #5 business & marketing, using wps ai to perfect your introduction.

With WPS Office, you have access to a comprehensive suite of tools designed to support your academic writing needs. Its AI-powered features enhance your writing process, from initial drafting to final proofreading. Specifically, WPS Office AI will help perfect your introduction, ensuring it captures attention and sets the stage for your paper. Plus, WPS Office is available for free, making it an accessible and indispensable resource for students and academics alike.

1.Check the Grammar and Syntax

Your introduction sets the tone for your entire essay, so it's crucial that it's grammatically correct and free from syntax errors. WPS AI careful checks for any grammatical mistakes and syntax issues, ensuring that your introduction is polished and professional. It provides suggestions for corrections, helping you present a clear and error-free first impression.

2.Rewrite Your Statement for Clarity

WPS AI can improve the clarity and coherence of your introduction by rewriting complex or awkwardly phrased sentences. It identifies areas where your writing may be ambiguous or convoluted and offers alternative phrasing that enhances readability. This feature ensures that your introduction is clear, concise, and compelling.

3.Automatically Expand Content

When you need to elaborate on a point or expand your introduction, WPS AI can automatically generate additional content. This feature helps you add relevant information that aligns with your essay's theme and tone. It’s particularly useful for developing a strong hook, providing context, or setting up your thesis statement.

4.Give an Outline for Your Paper

Writing a strong introduction often involves giving your readers a brief outline of what to expect in your essay. WPS AI can assist in structuring your introduction to include a concise overview of your main points, providing a roadmap for your readers. This feature ensures that your introduction effectively sets the stage for the rest of your essay. Here is an example of an outline generated using WPS AI Writer for an essay:

If you find this outline suitable for your essay, simply scroll down and click on "Insert" to use the outline for your essay.

1. What is the structure of an essay?

An essay is divided into three main parts:

Introduction: This section introduces the topic and presents the main idea (thesis). It provides some background information and outlines what the essay will discuss.

Body: The body forms the essay's core, where you develop arguments to support your thesis. It is organized into several paragraphs, each presenting a distinct point backed by evidence.

Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the main points covered in the essay and strengthens the thesis statement. It wraps up the discussion and may offer final insights or suggestions.

2. Why do I need a thesis statement?

A thesis statement plays a crucial role in academic essays and research papers by presenting the central argument or idea to be explored and developed. Here are several key reasons why a thesis statement is essential:

It provides clear direction and focus for your writing.

It summarizes your main argument for the reader.

It maintains clarity and coherence throughout the essay.

It serves as the foundational basis for structuring the entire essay.

3. How long should the introduction paragraph be?

The introduction paragraph for a research paper typically spans one to two paragraphs. As a general rule, the entire introduction section—which includes the opening paragraph, literature review, and research questions—should constitute approximately 10% to 15% of the paper's total length. This structure allows for a comprehensive yet concise setup of your research topic, providing readers with the necessary context before delving into the main body of your work.

Beyond the Hook: Building a Strong Introduction Paragraph

Writing an introduction is perhaps the most thought-provoking and critical task in crafting any assignment. With the myriad features offered by WPS Office, you can effortlessly create a phenomenal essay introduction. WPS AI enhances this process with tools that ensure clarity, coherence, and creativity. Whether it's organizing your thoughts or refining your language, WPS Office empowers you to craft introductions that captivate readers from the start. Download WPS Office today and experience firsthand how it transforms your writing process into a seamless and impactful journey.

  • 1. How to Use Transitions to Start a Paragraph [Tips with Examples]
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  • 4. How to replace "space” with "paragraph mark”
  • 5. 10 Best Self Introduction Template PPT: To Write Great Introductions
  • 6. How to remove paragraph marks in WPS Writer

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    Next, let's make sure you understand the different types of college essays. You'll most likely be writing a Common App or Coalition App essay, and you can also be asked to write supplemental essays for each school. Each essay has a prompt asking a specific question. Each of these prompts falls into one of a few different types.

  9. How to Write a College Essay Step-by-Step

    Self-help books. If you can only think of 3 or 4, that's okay. Step 2: Pick one of the things you wrote down, flip your paper over, and write it at the top of your paper, like this: This is your thread, or a potential thread. Step 3: Underneath what you wrote down, name 5-6 values you could connect to this.

  10. Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

    Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor. 1. Start Early. Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school.

  11. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Essay writing process. The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay.. For example, if you've been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you'll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay, on the ...

  12. 12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

    Don't Repeat. If you've mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don't repeat it again in your essay. Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

  13. How To Start a College Essay: 9 Effective Techniques

    For many, getting started is the hardest part of anything. And that's understandable. First, because it turns whatever you're doing into a reality, which raises the stakes. Second, because where you start can easily dictate the quality of where you end up. College essays have their own special brand of DTDT.

  14. How to Write a Great College Essay, Step-by-Step

    Step 3: Narrow Down Your List. Now you have a list of potential topics, but probably no idea where to start. The next step is to go through your ideas and determine which one will make for the strongest essay. You'll then begin thinking about how best to approach it.

  15. 2 University of South Carolina Essays by an Accepted Student

    Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write ...

  16. Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay

    Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay. 1. Write about something that's important to you. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life. 2. Don't just recount—reflect! Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome.

  17. How To Write A College Essay: A Step-By-Step Guide

    Pick a Topic That's Meaningful to You. Apply the adage "write what you know" to your college essay: Think about what makes you unique, then apply this knowledge to the larger theme of your ...

  18. 177 College Essay Examples for 11 Schools + Expert Analysis

    Technique #1: humor. Notice Renner's gentle and relaxed humor that lightly mocks their younger self's grand ambitions (this is different from the more sarcastic kind of humor used by Stephen in the first essay—you could never mistake one writer for the other). My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver.

  19. 14 College Essay Examples From Top-25 Universities (2024-2025)

    College essay example #1. This is a college essay that worked for Harvard University. (Suggested reading: How to Get Into Harvard Undergrad) This past summer, I had the privilege of participating in the University of Notre Dame's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program .

  20. How to Write a Good College Essay (with Pictures)

    Download Article. 1. Read your assignment carefully. Review the prompt and ensure you clearly understand the assignment. Look for keywords such as "analyze," "explain," and "compare and contrast.". These words will let you know exactly what your essay needs to accomplish. [1] For example, "analyze" means to pull apart.

  21. How To Write A Winning College Admission Essay

    Remember, a well-polished essay speaks volumes about your attention to detail and commitment to your college application. By following these steps and dedicating time to each part of the process, you can write a powerful and persuasive college admission essay that showcases your strengths and potential.

  22. How to Write a College Essay Fast

    To make your essay stand out, write your story in a way that no other student can replicate. As you write, keep these tips in mind: Zoom in on specific moments rather than summarizing a long period of time. Be vulnerable and share your honest feelings and thoughts. Use your authentic voice and an appropriate tone.

  23. Writing a strong college admissions essay

    Transcript. College admissions essays should showcase a student's unique voice, intellectual curiosity, and resilience. Simple, everyday topics can make powerful essays. It's important to have someone read the essay and share their impressions, ensuring it reflects the student's personality and experiences. Questions.

  24. How to Write the University of Rochester Supplemental Essay 2024-2025

    Research the specific opportunities you intend to pursue at the University of Rochester. Then, write down a few reasons why these opportunities excite you. Next, brainstorm a short list of goals these opportunities will help you reach. Lastly, write down a few positive impacts that these goals will have on the communities you inhabit.

  25. How to Format a College Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

    Again, we'd recommend sticking with standard fonts and sizes—Times New Roman, 12-point is a standard workhorse. You can probably go with 1.5 or double spacing. Standard margins. Basically, show them you're ready to write in college by using the formatting you'll normally use in college.

  26. The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing

    The Complete College Essay Handbook demystifies the entire college essay writing process with easy-to-follow directions and hands-on activities that have worked for hundreds of students. Maschal, a former admissions officer, and Wood, a professional writer and writing teacher, draw on their combined expertise to help students craft a successful ...

  27. List of 100+ Social Issues Topics and Ideas for 2024

    Learn how to write about social issues and get a massive list of social issues topics for your college essays and other academic papers. ... challenging to cover. This article is here to help you with the job. You'll learn how to choose a good topic on social issues, how to write about them, and what social issue-related topics are worth ...

  28. How to Write the Wake Forest Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    Wake Forest University, founded in 1834, fosters leadership, altruism, and international exchange in their student body. With campus buildings all around the world and an NCAA Division I football team, Wake Forest provides many unique opportunities for their students.If you're hoping to cheer on the Demon Deacon, you'll need to nail your Wake Forest supplemental essays.

  29. Understanding the Similarity Score for Students

    A high similarity score does not always suggest that a piece of writing has been plagiarized, just as a low similarity score does not always indicate that no plagiarism has occurred. Consider the following scenarios: Submitting a document of considerable size could result in a 0% similarity score with a report that still contains matches.

  30. How to Write an Introduction Paragraph: Examples and Guide

    Write an Introduction Paragraph. An introduction paragraph sets the tone for your entire essay, shaping your reader's expectations and mood. It's like the gateway to your ideas - a good one hooks the reader, compelling them to continue, while a weak introduction might make them lose interest before they've even begun.