College Essay Advice

college essay adviceWe’ve published many, many posts about college essays – aside from building your college list, it’s probably the topic that challenges and confounds students the most.  If you’re looking for college essay advice – there’s lots of it out there!  Just last week, Georgia Tech Admissions Director Rick Clark, whom we quote and link to frequently, blogged about students’ desire to write their college essays about something entirely unique that college admissions officers have never heard.

Spoiler alert:  it’s nearly impossible to write about a topic so unique that admission officers have never read an essay on it before.  What you CAN do is show them what’s unique about how YOU experienced it.

Think about it – college admissions officers read hundreds, sometimes thousands of college essays each year, all written by students around the same age, and frequently having had some of the same life experiences.  It’s almost impossible to find a topic that most admissions officers haven’t seen before.  What IS unique is the way YOU experienced that thing, that event, that life happening, how YOU grew and learned from those experiences, and how you might bring them to the next phase of your life.

US News and World Report offers their college essay advice as well, which also touches on this aspect of personalizing your essay and helping college admission officers hear your “voice” as you share your experience.

Parents – we know that letting your student really drive the college essay process is hard, but we want you to understand two things:

  • College admission officers know the difference between a 17 year old’s writing and a 47 year old’s, and they are not looking for your version of the story;
  • Jumping in and writing your child’s essay will telegraph to him/her that you don’t think his/her writing is good enough.
  • In fact – the New York Times published a piece that says it much better than I just did!  Read this – no really.  Read it.

Hopefully this is enough incentive to let your student take the lead on his/her college essays.  Let their voice shine through!

Looking for more college essay advice?  We’ve curated a ton of resources here.

Now – let’s get writing!



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