College Essay Writing 101—the Comprehensive Guide [2024]

So, you can’t wait to get into college and join a fraternity, sorority, or student union. Well, we have some incredibly useful tips and helpful information for college admission essay writing!

Remember: getting into college takes more than money. And outstanding essays get you great college scholarships!

With help from our college essay writing service, you will be able to win any essay contest!

📃 Chapter 1: The Ultimate Guide to a Fantastic College Essay

Suppose in high school you were an expert in writing five-paragraph essays.

However, then college starts. Your brilliant writing turns out to be just so-so. If you are feeling confused about your custom essay writings, there are things you need to know.

A five-paragraph essay is a standard form of writing in any school. It means that you can fit all your ideas into five paragraphs. And that only three paragraphs about the main point are enough.

This type of a custom essay paper also has its certain inner structure that guides you directly to the end. College essays are much trickier.

How so?

Well, there are several reasons:

Higher Demands for Arguments

First of all, they give more credits to strong, not vague, arguments. A college argument is a complex set of statements arranged logically. By a complex system a duo of claim and evidence is meant. By the way, there must be more than one supportive fact to any claim in a college essay paper. Whether it is a reflective essay or a cause and effect essay, support your claims!

Christopher Hitchens Quote.

The argument has to be more of a provocative one in any type of a custom essay paper. Readers have to analyze it, as well as get information. Convince your audience that there is more than 80% of truth in your statement.


You have to make your custom essay papers look like a formal, well-organized conversation between you and your readers.

By doing so, you’ll show your professor that you can handle the subject easily.

Making your point

When mastering the arguments, please, do not forget about the point you are making. Here’s a second difference between five-paragraphs and college essays. In the first case, a point is something that has to be stated in a specific sentence. It needs to be clearly seen.

But here’s the kicker:

What satisfies the high school teacher is not enough for a professor. Your skillfulness in college essay papers is shown when the point is clear from the context. Make your readers see the main idea between the lines.

Robert Wise Quote.

Don’t fall into too much conspiracy, though. A lot of professors admit that they don’t like to take wild guesses, and just lower the grades if they don’t grasp the main idea. A little practice and drafting will be helpful here.

A More Sophisticated Structure

Third basic distinction is in structure. Custom College essays are usually longer than five paragraphs. The paragraphs themselves can, and must be more than eight sentences long.

Higher expectations

College essays usually have more instructions and requirements to fulfill. And there are no childish topics like “My Family and I.” College essay topics should be deeper.

15,2% - the highest admission rate among Ivy League Colleges in 2017.

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Do not hesitate to contact us! We will provide you professional custom college essay help.

Essays are the most common academic paper that might seem easy to write. Our free tips will help you to get through any kind of essays. Still, if you are stuck on writing, you can always look for personal essay examples and ask us for help!

Remember: there is nothing wrong with asking for help with your academic writing.

Here’s something interesting.

The Huffington Post writes that many students resort to such online services. That goes for Ivy League students, too. And that’s to say nothing of international students.

✍️ Chapter 2: Writing Your College Admission Essay

Importance of the application essay

This is no secret:

College admission depends heavily on the quality of the essay you submit. This is how you let the committee know why you deserve a spot at their school!

Look at it this way:

Working on admission essays is like choosing fortune cookies. This paper will define your destiny. However, you have good chances to succeed in writing excellent admission essays if you want to. So, let’s stop panicking and take a closer look at what admission committees want to see in your essays.

What You Can Write About

Your college application essay is an important part of your admission. The point of your essay is to persuade the committee to choose you. To achieve this goal, you can use any of these three options in your college application essays:

Use unique content in essay. Your experiences and why you chose this college you can write about.

What can you do to write an original college-level essay?

For example, you might write an advertisement about yourself or a movie script about your college. However, be careful if you choose this option. This approach is risky, because some admission commissions might dislike too much creativity. Use your common sense. Try not to be too eccentric.

Now that you know what your basic options are, let’s go into more detail:

In general, a good common app essay says to the committee: “Hello! It is me you’re looking for.” Unfortunately, applicants need to look for indirect ways to convey this idea.

Here are some standard topic suggestions for a common application essay:

  • an important experience or ethical dilemma, which affected you as a person;
  • a problem of personal, local or global importance and its role in your life;
  • an encounter with a person who influenced you greatly;
Fyodor Dostoevsky Quote.
  • the impact of a fictional character, a historical figure or an artwork on you as a person;
  • an encounter with somebody very different from you, demonstrating that you understand the importance of diversity in community;
  • your choice.

Topics to Avoid

However, you should not see these standard options as limitations to your imagination. If your brilliant ideas do not fit in any of these categories, it is possible to choose the last option and say that it was your choice. So, it is up to you to decide how to present yourself in the best way possible.

But here’s something to keep in mind:

Some topics will leave any admission committee with a less-than-favorable impression of your academic potential. To be more specific, admission committees recommend that you avoid the following topics:

  • The death of your pet
    Even if you had a traumatic experience in your childhood, more often than not these essays turn out too melodramatic. And your typical college application essay format is just not suited to this kind of topic.
  • Conflicts with others
    The reason these ones are best avoided is simple: you might come across as petty, too focused on old quarrels, or bad at resolving conflicts in the right way, all of which pretty much make up the definition of “bad college applicant”. Generation gap in your family and criticism of your parents.
    This topic is pretty similar to the previous one: you might come across as whiny, unreasonable, or ungrateful. Not the best approach for your college search, right?
  • Something that you do not understand
    You should not write about Black Square by Malevich if you do not understand it. This is especially important if you’re thinking of writing an opinion essay about some sophisticated subject like contemporary art. If an applicant seems overly pretentious, that’s a huge red flag for the committee.
  • A global problem that you do not actually care about
    You should not write about AIDS and orphans in Africa if you do not actually care about this issue.
    Remember: you don’t want to come across as insincere. And if you pretend to be more concerned about something than you actually are, it will show in your writing.
Quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”

And one more thing:

Before you choose the best suitable option from those above, check the requirements of the particular college you want to apply to. Visit their website or contact their college admission committee and ask which of the formats is preferable for your college application essay. If they have no specific requirements, you may choose any of the above-discussed formats.

🤔 How to Write an Application Essay

The next step is to check the tone of your writing.

Suppose you are writing an essay on the importance of life or an essay about life challenges.

Make certain that it is respectful and you do not sound like a pampered child or a 60-year-old cynic.

Fact: “Cynical attitudes create a negative filter through which we observe our surroundings.”

You are probably wondering:

How can I come off as a sincere and respectful person?

Listen to your heart, be yourself, choose the most appropriate topic, words and tone and look through some useful examples (2016, 2017, 2018).

When starting to write your college admission papers, you should bear in mind one simple truth: you deserve this place in college. Don’t doubt this for a single moment while you write, or your doubts will show in what you write.

Instead, be full of confidence, so that the admission committee does not hesitate for a single moment either.

And, by the way, if you need some helpful examples, you could always take advantage of’s assistance. If you are wondering: “How many common app essays do you write?” the answer is “enough for every customer!”

📑 Essay Criteria

When looking through lists of college scholarships, remember:

Your application essay is your first small step into the world of academic writing.

While you are not a student yet, the rules of academia already apply to you!

Want to know how to write a good essay?

Well, here’s the thing:

There are certain criteria you have to follow if you want to achieve success and impress the committee.

9,4 out of 10 is the average rating of our essays!

These are the main criteria for evaluating  application essays:

  • Original content. This is crucial for showing your college-essay writing skills Try to put yourself in the shoes of the admission committee, who have to read thousands of essays. Each and every essay tells when the applicant was born, what school he/she went to and what subjects he/she liked most of all. It can make anyone get bored to death. Try to be yourself and don’t waste words on unimportant statistical data. Instead, communicate your feelings, motivations and aspirations.
  • Enthusiasm. Show your burning desire to go to that college. Even if it is only half true, it will improve your chances for success.
  • Tone. Respect your readers and avoid shameless self-promotion. Feel free to use humor, but do not go too far with it. It will show the committee that you have a lively mind, but you also know where to stop. Remember: if you want to find scholarships, you can’t rely on primitive zingers—they won’t do the trick.
  • Structure. When writing, say, a short essay on life, make sure to structure it logically and avoid long lists. A college application essay should not be confused with a resume or a curriculum vitae, which consist of lists of your competencies and experiences. The traditional essay structure would be great. Why to reinvent the wheel?
A standart structure for essay is.
  • Style. Your grammar and writing style are important elements of your college application essay.


Two main recommendations are to use active verbs and relatively short sentences. Some people think that long sentences and sophisticated grammar constructions can show how intelligent they are.

This is wrong.

Long words and complicated sentence structures can be rather annoying. Furthermore, it can prevent committees from understanding your brilliant ideas.

✍️ Essay Examples

Now that you have a certain idea about the topics that will work in an application essay, it’s time to look at some helpful examples!

First of all, let’s take a look at several prompts from the 2017-2018 admission cycle that can serve as templates for your writing.

Suffering from creative block?

If you still do not know how to start writing your essays for college application, the following prompts can inspire you, give you an idea about how to start a college essay about yourself and get your writing process going:

  • Write about your childhood experiences, such as designing a useful tool, playing computer games, or saving the lives of homeless kittens. These memories are always touching and provide valuable insights into your long-term preferences.
  • Speak about the moment when you realized that nursing (engineering, design, etc.) is your calling. Maybe you wanted to help your granny when she had a bad headache. Or, you had good ideas to improve the design of your favorite computer game, but did not know how to put them in practice. If you do not recollect a specific moment, you should not fabricate it.
  • Tell how you found out about this college (your friend told you, you found the information on the web or watched an advertisement on TV) and why you decided to apply to it.
  • Speak about your dreams, which you will be able to realize after graduating from college (work on the cutting edge, save people’s lives or develop new chemicals, for example).

And here we have some examples of college admission essays with comments that can give you a general direction:

With these helpful tips in mind, you will be able to fully appreciate the following examples of college admission essays:

An encounter with a person:

I never thought that a single conversation would change my entire life. However, after I met Mr. Brown during my volunteer work in the hospital last summer, my life views will never be the same again. He said to me that professional nursing is about healing not only human bodies, but also their souls.

Mr. Brown’s words and personality carved themselves in my memory and contributed to my understanding of the role of a nurse in society. Those memorable words rang in my ears when I was speaking to my patients. It was then that I realized that Nursing is my calling and Mr. Brown helped me make this important life choice…

Monica Dickens Quote.

Comment: The author discusses not only the encounter, but also its impact on his/her life views. In addition, the author mentions volunteer work, but does not insist on it for itself -instead, the volunteering is shown through the benefits it offered.

Do not hurry to leave this page, because another amazing sample is waiting for you below:

A problem of global importance

Like most of my peers, I did not care much about rare species until I visited the Bronx Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Park in New York. When I looked into the sad eyes of lowland gorillas, I felt that I must do something to contribute to their conservation. My decision to become a biologist became even firmer when I searched for more information for the conference “Better Naked than in Furs”…

Comment: The author explains why the global problem of conservation of rare species is important to him/her. The phrase “decision became firmer” shows the applicant’s enthusiasm about becoming a biologist.
If you need more samples for inspiration (like examples about yourself, examples of personal statements), check out these websites that contain some very helpful information on college writing:


On these sites you will find useful narrative essay topics, topics for reflective essays and much more!

So, now you are ready to write your own application essay of exceptional quality. Choose the best suitable approach, unlock your imagination and write a winning college admission essay to contribute to your better tomorrow.

❓ Chapter 3: How to Deal with Topics

If you want to be admitted and enroll in college, you have to be aware of the most common college application essay topics. Sure, each college has its own questions and topics, but most of them are likely to fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Personal Experience
    This is not surprising: what could be more common to ask about than an applicant’s own life? Here are some topics that are absolutely unavoidable:
    • The Moment of Enlightenment: What Is Your Main Experience?
    • The House That Jack Built: What Are Your Main Accomplishments?
    • The Greatest Dream of All: What Is Your Lifelong Ambition?
Ken Kesey Quote.
  1. People around You and Their Impact on You
    Topics in this category are designed to let you demonstrate that you know something about the world and the society in which you live. Remember: this is essentially an essay contest for adults. It’s a chance to show that you are aware of important issues and have interesting perspectives on a variety of topics.
    • The People Around You and What Impact They Have on You;
    • Your Vision of the World: The Point of View That Makes a Difference;
    • On Moral Issues: What Is Your Opinion of Commercials in Public Schools (/Abortions/Capital Punishment/…)?
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Quote.
  1. You and the College
    Here you have to write about the role that college will play in your life, why it means so much to you and what it will give you.
    • You and the College: What Are Your Anticipations?
    • You and the College: Your Major Impressions;
    • You and the College: What Are Your Ideas about Certain Changes?

🙋 How to Deal with College Questions

Given the essay writing tips, recommendations, prompts, and sample papers already given above, this part is pretty short and simple.

Whenever you deal with college essay questions, remember the following:
An essay question already contains 50% of the answer.
The rest is your memory, ability to think, and enthusiasm!

50 College Essay Topics

Sometimes, a sample essay topic like the one below is just not enough. When you face the challenge of writing essays for college, you must know you’re in for something extreme.


Some of the topics below might seem quite unorthodox! You’re not very likely to find these topics among common app essay examples for Harvard, Yale or another Ivy League college, but they do give you a bigger picture of what’s possible.

Check these top 50 craziest topics for essay in the world’s history:

  1. Write a short story on any topic that will end in the following way: “It was only tomorrow that mattered.”
  2. Write an essay without using the letter “V.” What could be better for a non-typical college admission letter?
  3. Describe one day in the life of a certain body part.
  4. Orwellian nightmares are back: what is your vision of his dystopian world?
  5. What will it be like living in the year 5000? Offer your ideas about the planet, people, and social life in a 500 words essay.
  6. If you lived in Carroll’s Wonderland, who of your family, friends, and enemies would impersonate which character from the book?
  7. Try writing the worst English essay that can possibly exist (believe it, this is harder than it sounds!) Comment on this experience.
  8. Imagine that you are a cartoon character. What would you say to your scriptwriter? (Probably something like: “If you are such a good writer, write me a decent academic essay!”)
  9. Think of reasons why aliens have not contacted the Earth yet.
  10. Imagine that you have been trapped in a dream. Describe the dream and your impressions in a personal essay.
  11. You have just seen what will happen to the world in the year 4000. Describe your impressions.
  12. Imagine you have just written a 400-pages autobiography. Submit the 311th page, please. Now that’s putting a new spin on the average essay about yourself! And the weirdest topic for an essay in college is…
  13. If the ordinary world was only a figment of your imagination, what would the “reality” look like? (Now, that’s definitely not your average common app topic.)
  14. Write a letter to a college student from the future.
  15. What do you think of the dystopian future of the modern world?
  16. Describe your personal views on what art is. 
  17. Explain your concern about water quality and suggest ways to improve it.  
  18. What do you think about taking a gap year between high school and college?
  19. Examine why it’s essential to save lakes’ and oceans’ wildlife and what you do about it.  
  20. Describe why you decided to become a teacher.
  21. Discuss the value of a healthy lifestyle to you.
  22. Tell about your views on money and expenditure.
  23. Analyze why deforestation is an urgent problem everyone should care about.  
  24. Present your views on student responsibility. 
  25. Explain your opinion on the influence of social media on friendship.
  26. Describe how the lockdown time became for you a period of personal growth.
  27. Present your views on the real value of a college education.
  28. Discuss the influence of the culture you’ve been brought in on your life and personality.
  29. Analyze how your hobby can help you achieve your professional aims.
  30. Describe the lessons you’ve learned about race and ethnicity.
  31. Tell about the event that inspired you to dream of becoming a police officer.
  32. Explain how the qualities you possess will make you a great nurse.
  33. Describe what you do to improve your interpersonal relations and how it’ll be beneficial for your future career.
  34. Discuss the effect Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants had on you.
  35. Write about your future career goals and how studying in this college will help you to achieve them.
  36. The most important event from your childhood.
  37. Discuss the high school challenges you’ve faced and what they taught you.
  38. Tell about the teachers that made a difference in your life.
  39. Analyze what habits are essential for your personal development and what you do to achieve them.
  40. Give your definition of responsibility and explain what you feel responsible for in your life.
  41. Personal reflections on aging.
  42. Explain how you managed to resolve a cover conflict.
  43. Describe what influenced your decision to choose a musical career.
  44. Write about the event that changed your life and taught you a valuable lesson.
  45. Discuss the impact of Abraham Lincoln’s personality on your life.
  46. Analyze the role of reading in your life and the book that affected you the most.
  47. Why do I want to become a firefighter?
  48. The role the Internet in our life.
  49. Tell about the experience of your first job and what it taught you.
  50. Explain what qualities you need to develop to become a great teacher and how you work on the task.
Truman Capote quote.
  1. Imagine that you are a cartoon character. What would you say to your scriptwriter? (Probably something like: “If you are such a good writer, write me a decent academic essay!”)
  2. Think of reasons why aliens have not contacted the Earth yet.
  3. Imagine that you have been trapped in a dream. Describe the dream and your impressions in a personal essay.
  4. You have just seen what would happen to the world in the year 4000. Describe your impressions.
  5. Imagine you have just written a 400-pages autobiography. Submit the 311th page, please. Now that’s putting a new spin on the average essay about yourself! And the weirdest topic for an essay in college is…
  6. If the ordinary world was only a figment of your imagination, what would the “reality” look like? (Now that’s definitely not your average common app topic.)

Want to see some more interesting and funny ideas for essay topics? Check out these websites:

  1. Looking for some ideas to write an essay about something funny? Take a look at Quirky College Application Essay Prompts
  2. Want your topic to be unorthodox, unconventional and surprising? Then you will definitely like Creative Writing Prompts
  3. Have you always wanted to make an argument for some concept that is completely out there? Get inspiration from 200 Prompts for Argumentative Essay Writing

⭐ Chapter 4: The Key to Successful College Writing

The Proper Structure of an Essay

Be mindful of the structure of your essay. All college application essay topics have a formula. If you follow it, the committee will see your abilities and academic potential.

The college application essay should follow the structure:

  • Essay introduction - the presentation of the problem, the timeliness of the problem
  • Main body
  • Opinion 1, proofs
  • Contradictory opinion, proofs
  • Opinion 2, proofs
  • Contradictory point of view, proofs
  • Opinion 3, proofs
  • Contradictory point of view, proofs
  • Conclusion. It is advisable to express your personal point of view about the problem

Here’s something important to keep in mind:
When we talk about “proof”, what we mean is this:
“Because I said so” never really counts as proof. Try to look for authoritative sources and experts on the subject.

Do not cite Wikipedia! Some articles may contain false or debatable information.

If you want to learn more about the typical essay structure, follow this link. For more information on different types of essays (like descriptive essays, narrative essays, or persuasive essays) check out this page.

Techniques for Successful Essay Writing

There is no template for a great essay. But there are techniques that can help you write your application.

Choosing the topic

Ask yourself: “Do I want to write a persuasive essay or an informative essay?” If you can’t make up your mind, take out a sheet of paper and make a table. Fill one column with topics of a more persuasive nature and the second one with topics of a more informative nature. Then cross out any topics that seem a bit off.

Checking Essays Written by Other People

This is not a suggestion to steal other people’s work. But their thoughts can definitely help you with your own essay. And, if you need some more assistance, use our services!

Writing the essay outline

Some people prefer to get straight to the writing. However, if you do so, you may run out of creative fuel halfway and then be clueless about where your essay is going. Writing an outline first, on the other hand, provides a solid plan you can stick to.

Ken Follet quote.

Walking in the shoes of the reader

When you’re engrossed in writing, you can forget one simple fact:
Someone else is going to read the assignment. By switching your perspective to that of, say, a committee member, you’ll be able to see flaws you didn’t notice before.

Not everyone knows that the college application essay is the chance to show your personality, inner world. It develops your creativity. Here are 3 steps to successful essays:

  1. Brainstorming
    Due to brainstorming you can find the subject which you have not noticed before. Make a list of your best characteristics before applying to college.Why are you a strong person? Have you ever tried to change the lives of people around you for the best? How do people around characterize you? What are your dreams for the future? Do you apply every effort to realizing them?
  2. Selecting a topic of your college application essay
    Think about all the important elements to include in your analytical essay. Consider the following questions:
    • Is the topic selected of the real interest for you?
    • Have you ever had an experience of facing the similar problem?
    • Can you make your essay vivid?
Francis Ford Quote. Look at your essay with the eye of a director!
  1. Editing
    Once you’ve finished writing, double check the text of your college application essay. Correct whatever errors you find, and don’t put it off until just moments before the application deadline! When it comes to editing, many of us relax, convinced that the bulk of the work is done.But that’s a mistake.Silly typos and poor grammar can be the deciding factor for the committee. They can be especially scrupulous about grammar. Thus, you could find yourself out of the running due to very minor details.Wouldn’t that be a shame?Stay vigilant about your grammar, and check out some resources to make sure your grammar is perfect.

Reliable Help with College Writing

Competent college application essays show how articulate you are. Do not miss such a chance. Just believe in yourself! And we will help you in this.

Essays are the most common academic paper that looks might seem easy to write. Our free essay tips will help you to get through any kind of essays. Still, if you are stuck on writing, you can always ask us for help!

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Further reading:

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Comments (2)

William Ray
William Ray

Thanks for showing the difference between a college essay and a high school essay:)) Nice ideas to use when writing essays and ones to avoid using at all. Thanks for sharing them!

Jessica Cat
Jessica Cat

A high school essay is not the same as a college essay. It is much harder, with more profound research and mature ideas… Thanks for the main peculiarities and differences between these two types of work.