5 tips for a better college admissions essay

Whether a high school student’s sights are set on becoming a chemistry major at college or on mastering the art of poetry, he or she will likely have to write an admissions, or application, essay. This essay is meant to demonstrate the student’s personality, ability to use logic, and to offer some insight on the student’s potential.

For some high school students, writing essays comes naturally, while for others, essay-writing is extremely challenging. It’s entirely possible for a student to receive near-perfect grades in some classes – like math, chemistry, and physics courses – while struggling to perform at the same level in English and other writing intensive courses.

Quint Careers offers some more insight on the admissions essay:

It may be only 500 words — or sometimes only 100-250 words — but the admissions essay portion of a college application can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. How you write your personal essay shows the admissions committee why you are different from other applicants. It provides information about you that test scores, grades, and extracurricular pursuits just cannot.

In other words, high school students have a small amount of space to string together an impactful essay. With such importance hinging on a piece of writing, what are some steps the student can take to ensure he or she writes the best admissions essay possible? Here are some keys:


An admissions essay is short. It will only take a few minutes to read, so there are no excuses for it not to be proofed several times over. High school teachers, counsellors, tutors, and parents should review each iteration of the essay.

No frills

An essay should be written to the point. Sentences should have variety, but should all be concise. There is very little space for unnecessary information.


The admissions essay needs to reveal the personality of the applicant. It should be creative and unique. Ideally, the essay will distinguish the applicant from the rest. Anecdote and narrative are powerful ways to add a sincere sense of individuality to an admissions essay.

Spelling and grammar

Whether the applicant is a confident and experienced writer or not, there are no excuses for spelling and grammar mistakes. These errors may paint a picture of a lack of care and attention to detail in the eyes of college and university admissions staff.


An application package contains all sorts of information about grades and past accomplishments. The admissions essay doesn’t need to waste precious time and space reiterating information contained in other parts of the application. Rather than referencing a 97% final grade in Chemistry 11, an admissions essay could portray the writer’s ambition by referencing extracurricular accomplishments.

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