The Essay Review by admission2college

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The application essay is definitely the way a high school senior sets themselves apart from other talented students.

At no time, though, is the anxiety higher while preparing their applications than when they are writing the essay.

With all different, and at times bizarre, prompts colleges ask students to answer they can spend hours agonizing over what to say, how to say it, and how they will be judged by it.

To help calm those nerves, review our essay tips below for straightforward results driven tips.

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Writing a quality essay does take a substantial amount of work  but it is a unique opportunity to make a difference at decision time.

While we will never write an essay for a student we will review, proof and edit it to ensure it is well written.

Having read thousands of admission essays during our years in college admissions, we know what makes an excellent, good or bad essay.

But, while we have reviewed, proofed and edited thousands as college counselors, we don’t have a cookie cutter approach or use a standard essay format. Every essay is unique.  

The tricky part for us is making sure we keep it in your content and tone or voice, not changing your words or the intent of your message.    

An essay review by admission2college is available as part of The College Match Advantage Program or click here to purchase separately.

Tips on Writing your Essay

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
— Kurt Vonnegut's seven rules for writing well, which are as applicable to college applications as they are to writing everything else.


Your essay is only one part of your application and at many schools it plays an important role in making their admission decisions. The college admissions counselor will be looking over your entire application; your essay, grades, activities, curriculum, etc. and creating an academic and personal profile of you from which they will make their admission decision. Your essay allows you to create a truly unique picture of yourself, so make sure it communicates your thoughts and experiences.


The "WOW"

Write with emotion and passion, even if it seems silly to you. You want the reader to stop and think, WOW. Not a WOW because you did something no one else has even done, but a WOW because you demonstrate in your essay that you are a thinker, have interests that matter to you, are a person who wants to learn, knows you have much to learn and are excited to learn.

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Distinguish Yourself

Your essay...

...provides the opportunity to add clarity, richness, and meaning to the information collected in the other parts of your application by writing about characteristics and personality traits that aren’t evident in the GPA, test scores or curriculum.

...will distinguish you from other applicants whose academic records are quite similar.

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Show Your Personality

The admissions counselor reading your essay wants to hear about you, but in a way, that goes beyond simply describing your experiences and activities and instead relect on them and write about what you have learned from them. They want to read about things that have meaning to you.

A good admissions reader (assuming all admission counselors are good readers) look for your personality to shine in a way that your academic records, test scores, etc. can’t.

Writing Your Essay

Each school where you apply will have either individual questions on their application or prompts (the Common Application has 7 prompts to choose from) for you to respond to in your essay. Most essays have a word count of 500 to 650 words.

Read the prompts or questions carefully, but how you interpret them is up to you. We recommend writing as much as you can on your subject and then cutting back. It’s always easier to cut back on your writing than to write more.


No subject is inherently a good choice or a bad choice for an essay. Put aside what you think an admission counselor/committee wants to hear and write as well as you can about something you know well and care about.


Ask yourself how have your academic interests (art, music, theatre, math, science, etc.), interests outside of school, leadership, community service or other activates have shaped or influenced you? For each opportunity think about a deeper meaning.

How has the experience made an impact on you?

Did it cause you to think or look at things differently?

Through the experiences did you discover a passion or interest that excited you?

Did it open your eyes to something you want to learn more about?

Your ability to articulate that is important.


Thousands of students write essays discussing leadership, taking initiative, problem solving, community involvement, etc. but many don’t write about them with any depth of thought.

Ask yourself about the meaning you gained from your experiences and how you have grown from them.


Be careful with humor and clichés: What might seem funny or bitingly ironic to you might not seem that way to someone who doesn’t know you. Don’t allow clichés to speak for you.

But at the same time don’t be afraid to use humor, it always catches a reader’s attention if used in the right way.


Imagine yourself as the college admissions counselor reading your essay


As a college admissions counselor, you are reading hundreds of student essays.

Essay after essay—what would catch your attention?

That’s what we want your essay to do; catch their attention.


College Admissions Counselors are looking for things in an essay that grab their attention and feelings and convince them—to admit you.

Remember they want to admit you, not deny you.


timing is everything

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Start on your essay early:

Give yourself time to think about your topics, and carefully consider the rationale behind each question or prompt.


Be clear. Be focused. Be organized: Make sure your essay follows a logical structure.

Think about the impression it creates on someone who doesn’t know you. Input from people you trust—counselors, teachers, friends, and relatives—can help you get different perspectives on how your essay affects those who read it.

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Give yourself plenty of time for revisions: have at least three others proof read your essay.

Pay attention to rules of correct grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget to spell check.