How to Write an Admission Essay That Will Guarantee Entry

Posted on: 8th April 2020

How much do you want your application into your dream college to be accepted? If you had one chance to charm the admission officers into picking you, what would you do? As you reflect on that, we're glad to inform you that we can give you an unfair advantage that'll see you chosen over the hundreds of other applicants. At custom writing bee, we can help you craft a killer admission essay that will have admission officers fighting to have you in their class. 

An admission essay is the only aspect of your college application that's still within your control. What's more, it's the only part of the selection process that's guaranteed to be unique. Think about it; numerous applicants may have similar qualifications (GPA, transcripts, and extracurricular activities), but nobody's essay can replicate yours. Read on as we share with you our vast knowledge on how to write the best college essays.

What is an Admission Essay?

A college admission essay, also known as a statement of purpose or a personal statement, is what a university admissions committee uses to hand you the mic. In most cases, admission officers rarely get the chance to meet prospective students before reading their application. If they're lucky to meet, the officer barely remembers the student afterward. As such, an admission essay is, in most cases, is the only opportunity a student gets to address the admissions committee directly. 

Resumes and high school transcripts contain static information that bleeds together in the eyes of the admission officer after long hours of reviewing numerous applications. Your admission essay allows you to shine a dynamic perspective on your story. Essentially, it personalizes your application, allowing you to be viewed as more than a data point or a line on a spreadsheet, eventually showing your audience why you stand out from the other applicants.

In a nutshell, an admission essay avails you the chance to answer the question, "Who are you?" To answer that question adequately, we've divided the process of how to write an admission essay into three:

  • Brainstorming your admission essay
  • Writing your admission essay
  • Polishing-up your admission essay

Let's get started.

Brainstorming your Admission Essay

One mistake many college applicants make is failing to allocate sufficient time to planning their admission essays. As such, they end up with a half-cooked piece - one that's disorganized and doesn't fully reveal their personality and potential to contribute to the learning institution. 

So, the very first step of writing a college admission essay or an MBA admission essay is reckoning what you need to do. The majority of universities in America are now on the Common App. Nevertheless, some schools, such as the University of California, have retained their writing requirements. Additionally, even for Common App schools, you may still be required to write a supplemental essay or answer a few questions. 

With that said, knowing which essays you must write allows you to plan the best approach for writing your college application essay. Subsequently, use the following admission essay tips to organize your writing.  

1. Understand Admissions Psychology

After compiling the various pieces of your college application and sending it to your favorite school, your information is stacked alongside a hundred other tenders. Subsequently, an admission committee reviews every aspect of your application, including your scores, curriculum, and your admission essay. 

Unfortunately, members of the admissions board also serve in various capacities in the school. With that in mind, admission officers will probably evaluate your application in between conferences, lectures, meetings, and emails. As such, they tend to be quite particular in their analysis, and the only way to convince them is to understand precisely what they want. 

But, really…

What Are They Looking for?

Every university uses a different criterion to accept students into their institution, and they're always looking for different qualities in a potential student. As a result, it is critical to research the school to which you're applying. For instance, if you are writing a UC graduation essay, find out everything you can on the school's values and note how you can contribute those ideals.

A small creative arts school may value quirky essays oozing personality. On the other hand, a private school in New England may prioritize your readiness to succeed in business. If you're fortunate, your favorite school may have helpful resources on their website, highlighting what they're looking for or how to write an application essay. 

Regardless of the school, admission committees are usually looking for a student who will:

  • Excel once they join the school
  • Enrich other students' educational experience
  • Bring prestige to the learning institution after they graduate

Your admission essay should demonstrate your capability to meet those requirements. Wondering where to start? Easy. Take some minutes to answer the following questions.

  • How can I reassure the board that I'll excel in their institution?
  • How can I communicate that I'm ambitious and determined?
  • How will I enrich the learning experience of others?
  • How might I bring prestige to the college?
  • What are my long-term goals?

Your answer to these questions will help you structure the content of your college application essay. 

2. Determine your Goals

In addition to answering the above questions, you must think about the impression you want to give the admission officers. After reading your essay, what should the officer or committee think about your personality or capability? 

Do you want the admission officers to view you as reliable, accountable, and academically ambitious? While these essay goals are quite excellent, you should also consider the admission essay in connection with your studies. If your coursework already reveals that you're earnest and determined, your article should highlight other features of your persona. For instance:

  • Have you worked at a relevant job? 
  • Are you a member of any organization or club?
  • Have you ever demonstrated leadership or teamwork?
  • Have you shown community-responsibility or compassion?

3. Consider your Uniqueness

As we pointed out before, an admission essay is also known as a personal statement. As such, this type of college essay primes you to go deep so that you can reveal your unique qualities. An excellent way to discuss your uniqueness is to take what we like to call "vulnerability training." 

Here are some vulnerability exercises you can do to dig a little deeper about yourself.

1. "If you knew me…"

On a blank document, write the phrase, "If you knew me..." and complete the sentence by sharing something only someone very close to you would know. You can even make things interesting by writing something you've never told anyone about yourself. 

For instance, if you knew me, you'd know…

  • I'm obsessed with learning financial tactics and investment strategies
  • I read more than 50 books on personal development last year
  • I begin my day at 4 am as I find the morning tranquil inspiring
  • I appreciate my friends' flaws and imperfections because nobody's perfect
  • I enjoy walking barefoot as it stimulates the benefits of earth connection

2. "I love…"

In this exercise, set a one-minute timer on your phone and finish the phrase I love… with as many answers as possible. When the buzzer beeps, try listing as many of them as you can remember. This drill will enhance your creativity to the extent that you'll list things that you weren't conscious you liked. 

For example, I love:

  • The ocean
  • Early mornings
  • Exercising
  • My family
  • Silence

As rules of thumb, do not think ahead, and in case your ideas run out, just rely on your stream-of-consciousness.

3. Gratitude Check-in

If you want to know yourself a little better, try listing the things for which you're grateful. Gratitude helps us to recognize the things we value the most. During this exercise, make sure that you're as specific and as personal as you can.

In this case, I'm grateful for:

  • An opportunity to share these tips with you
  • My mom's continued love and support 
  • The versatility of my day, I like never knowing what to expect
  • This fresh-fruit smoothie I just made; it tastes delicious!

Incorporating any of these exercises into your writing will add a touch of uniqueness that can't exist in any other admission essay. 

4. Consider your Contribution 

When you're accepted into a college, the admission board wants assurance that you'll contribute to other students' learning. One ethos of education is to widen someone's perspective so that they'll eventually realize the extent of their intellect and learn how to grow past those parameters. As such, your essay must communicate how you intend to contribute to the school's mission.

As such, take a second to recoup your potential contribution;

  • Do you excel in study groups or other types of collaborative activities?
  • Will you join an athletic team?
  • Do you intend to write for the school blog or newsletter?

Ultimately, outline the various ways in which you feel you can contribute to the school. 

5. Chose the Best Admission Essay Topic

Allen, one of the associates at custom writing bee, is a college counselor and has been on numerous admission board committees. Given that he has encountered millions of admission essays, we asked for his two cents regarding picking admission essay topics. 

According to Allen, the best college admission essay describes something that isn't represented in the application. Besides, he reiterates that admission officers are desperate to learn something new, which is what you should focus on instead of recapping things that are already in the application. 

Picking a topic for your admission essay requires careful consideration. For starters, not everyone is qualified to advise you on topic ideas. However, your parent, a mentor, or a close friend can provide some valuable input as they know you well and may appreciate your personality more than anyone. 

The following questions can help you chose the best college admission essay topic.

  • Will it portray me in the best possible light? 
  • Does it incorporate some natural adversity?
  • In a decade, will this essay still reflect who I am? 
  • Can anyone else in the world write about this exact topic?
  • Is this a well-known aspect of me that it could come up in a recommendation letter? 

If you answer "no" to any of the first three questions and/or "yes" to the last two, you should go back to the drawing board. 

Admission Essay Topics to Avoid

Academic interests – Your statement of purpose isn't about hammering one point. It's about a layering effect. Most schools will require that you write at least one supplemental essay related to your major. In such a case, save the topic describing your academic interest for the supplemental essay.

Family Trips – While there's nothing fundamentally wrong with recapping an enjoyable family experience, this isn't the place to do it. For starters, it's a common topic and may suggest a lack of creativity or an inability to reflect critically. Secondly, it suggests privilege, and you don't want to come off as a spoilt brat. 

In-depth account – The essay aims to reveal what makes you tick, and your thought process as well. As such, do not write a gripping adventure story, but rather focus on moments of considerable achievement or life lessons.

Extracurricular activities – The activities section of your college application will represent this aspect adequately. Besides, the school may request a supplemental essay on your most significant extracurricular activity. Instead of repeating themes in your application, focus on layering themes. 

Community service – Surprisingly, even the best writers find it challenging to pull off a community service topic. Allen tells us that in his 20 years of reading college application essays, he's come across only a handful of exceptional pieces on community service.

Negative Experiences – Everybody, including the admission officer reading your essay, appreciates a happy ending. Avoid describing topics that may shine a negative light on you. 

Pre-high school achievements – If possible, limit your college admission essay to who you are at the moment, instead of focusing on your early-life persona. 

Foolish Tip: Topics ideas relating to your love life or anything illegal are off-limits.  

As we sum up this section, you should know that the essay prompts in most applications are relatively open-minded. When helping our clients in need of admission essay help, we worry less about the prompt and focus more on what makes you unique. Ninety-nine percent of the time, most personal statement topics following our criteria always fit one of the prompts.  

6. Analyze the Admission Essay Prompt

Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, it's the most obvious of things that people often overlook. Admission officers have a heap of applications to review and will pounce on any opportunity to disregard an applicant. As such, you must probe the admission essay prompt carefully, ensuring that you understand exactly what the admittance board is asking.

Consider the following example, "Discuss a moment that marked your transition from childhood into adulthood within your family, culture, or community."

This question wants you to recount a moment that facilitated your growth into adulthood thoughtfully. One of the mistakes you can make when answering this prompt would be narrating three significant experiences that have contributed to your growth tremendously. Why? Because the question wants you to discuss one event.

Asking the following questions will help you analyze the various angles in the essay prompt.

  • Does the question comprise more than one part?
  • Which aspect of your life does the admissions board want to learn?
  • If more than one prompt is provided, which one appeals to you most? Why?

Writing the Perfect Admission Essay

It doesn't matter whether you'll be studying accounting, analytical chemistry, or creative writing. Writing skills are critical for academic success. In addition to educating you in a particular field, learning institutions aim to produce individuals who can communicate effectively. Once you graduate from college, you'll be writing cover letters, resumes, and giving presentations, among other work-related activities that will rely on your ability to communicate effectively. 

Your college application essay doesn't have to mark you as the next Charles Dickens, although it should demonstrate that you've got the necessary skills on which the school can develop. Basically, you have to show that you can get your point across. Also, are you acquainted with the admission essay format?

Here are some tips on how to write an excellent admission essay.

7. The First Draft Is Never Perfect

We've encountered many writers who get caught up in writing a perfect draft that they never get started at all! The key to excellent writing lies in writing anything (first draft) and improving on what you've got (editing and rewriting) until its perfect. Given that you'll still rewrite your draft, trying to get everything right the first time is somewhat counter-intuitive. Ask any writing expert; nobody can write a perfect first draft.

Another point to note is that at this point, your main goal is to outline your ideas. You can fix punctuation errors and askew phrasings when you edit. In the meantime, focus on answering the prompt, including as many specific details as possible.

8. Write an Engaging Introduction

Your admission essay introduction is your essay's first impression, and you only get one shot at that. As we mentioned earlier, your reader is somewhat of a speed reader, given their demanding schedules. As such, you must capture their attention as fast as you can; once you've lost your reader's attention, you may never regain it. Overall, you want to reel in the reader with an engaging hook that promises a compelling story.

We recommend the following two possible approaches for writing a gripping introduction. 

The "In Media Res" Opening

If you studied The Odyssey, you're familiar with this reference. If you haven't, "in media res" means that, instead of starting your narrative from the beginning, you begin it from the middle. Such an intro, when appropriately executed, leaves the reader wondering how you got to that point and where you'll go next. Overall, this approach provides a captivating opening for narrative essays. 

Are you wondering how you can craft a compelling introduction? Easy; find a fascinating point in your narrative, and begin there. If you aren't sure which part to start with, write down your story and then cross-out each sentence until you find one that grips your attention instantly. 

The Specific Generalization

That's quite the oxymoron, don't you think? The specific generalization approach introduces your essay in a somewhat unexpected way. The primary aspect of this introduction technique is attention to detail. Consequently, if you want to start your personal statement essay with an overall description, it must be detailed, yet sufficiently unique to stand out. 

Here are some examples drawn from real college admission essays.

"Sitting at the center of my room is a classic piece of furniture." (Stanford admission essay, Boniface)

My name's Brooks, and anytime you ask me, I'll tell you that my favorite book is Jane Eyre. This may be a coincidence, or not. (Harvard admission essay, Brooks)

Both of the phrases introduce the essay's topic intriguingly. The first intro is effective because it merges specific descriptions with general commentary. The second one hooks the reader by blending a conversational tone with an irreverent one. 

Overall, the idea is not to sound eccentric or gimmicky, but to make your readers think, "here's a candidate who put some thought into their nursing admission essay."  

9. Don't Focus Too Much on Length

When you're writing your first draft, don't obsess over the word count. Instead, try adding as much detail as possible; you'll meet the word count during editing. 

However, if the final word count in your first draft nears double the required amount, and you don't know what to remove, your topic may be too broad. You may also need to reconsider your approach if you're struggling to meet the word count as it indicates your admission essay lacks a specific focus.  

10. Include Specific Details

Writing in fine detail is the hallmark of exceptional writing. The more information you incorporate in your college admission essay, the more compelling an impression it will have on the admittance committee. 

For instance:

Instead of writing, "I've never missed an assignment deadline even when I was unwell."

Try writing, "In my junior year, I fell ill with an awful case of pneumonia. Despite having a 103-degree fever, I completed drafting my speech on the potential impacts of poaching on wildlife diversity and tourism."

In general,

  • Include a specific example
  • Include imagery to show instead of tell
  • Replace general nouns (car, class) with specific words (Porsche and Geometry respectively)

11. Stick the Landing

Given the dynamic nature of admission essays, it's quite challenging to give any catch-all advice for what to include in the conclusion, or any other section, for that matter. 

If your essay describes why you'd like to attend a particular college, you can include one or two sentences that link your experiences with the institution's mission or values. If the essay leans towards a narrative form, you may conclude with the assertion that the experience influenced you to apply to your ideal school.

Despite whichever college admission essay format you use, develop every section of your essay, including the conclusion with the hindsight of your reader. Is there anything memorable or captivating about a paragraph that reads, like the one below?

"Finally, in this admission essay, I have demonstrated A, B, and C about myself. Therefore, I am happy to secure an admission spot at your college."

No. There isn't. 

Your conclusion should help you drive home the various aspects of your personality that you'd like to highlight, then tie them to your college application.  

Would you like to check out an admission essay sample? You're in luck. We've got a vast inventory of college admission essay examples for moments like this. We've also got some private high school admission essay examples, in case you'll find them helpful. 

Polishing-up Your Admission Essay

As much as you want to stand out, you don't want to do so with typos or grammar errors. To that end, cleaning up your essay is as critical as writing it in the first place. This is where editing and proofreading come in. 

Editing a college essay requires that you look at your composition with a fresh outlook. As such, we advise that you put your assignment aside for a day or two before you can begin editing. As always, you can make your work much more manageable by approaching it in phases.

Phase 1: Logical Diagnosis

Take the first pass to recognize any issues with the big picture. Instead of fussing over grammar mistakes, you should be trying to ensure that the overall picture depicts a flattering self-portrait that you'll be proud to present to the admissions committee. It's about improving your structure and delivery. 

As you review your composition, you should consider whether it captivates the reader, occupies him with specifics, and demonstrates why the topic is significant to you. The following questions can help you make a thorough diagnosis. 

  • Is the intro captivating?
  • Is the progression of ideas smooth?
  • Does the essay reveal something particular about you?
  • Can you replace any vague statements with more specific ones?
  • Are there any irrelevant details?
  • Is it too long? Can you condense the essay without losing crucial details?
  • Is the thought process logical?

Phase 2: Seek Feedback

After correcting the issues identified in step one, it's time to bring in a fresh set of eyes to critique your work. Teachers, friends, and parents can be quite helpful in this regard, although one's usefulness depends on their writing abilities and your willingness to receive criticism. Bear in mind that someone like your mom or dad may have never written a personal statement. In such a case, you can tell the reader what you want them to observe.

Phase 3: Refine Diction & Grammar 

Once you've incorporated the feedback you received from others, your essay draft should now have a clear arc. In this phase, you're looking for issues with sentence structure and word choice.

Reading your essay out loud is an excellent way to spot any oddness in language. If something sounds odd when you read it, it will undoubtedly sound off when another person reads it. 

What to check in this phase?

  • Are there segments that seem too formal?
  • Any redundancies?
  • Any misused words?
  • Is your sentence structure and length varied?

Ultimately, your final draft should have zero grammar, diction, and organization errors. Such meticulousness may seem like overkill, but it will pay off dividends when the admission officers notice your attention to detail.  

Do you need help proofreading your essay? You can request admission essay help from our custom writing experts anytime.

Need Admission Essay Writing Help?

Writing a college admission essay is probably the last essay test you'll have to write as a high school student. However, as we've demonstrated, it doesn't have to be a daunting undertaking. Every year, hundreds of students benefit from our admission essay tips, and this year, you may be one of them. 

Understanding your reader's psychology is critical to selling yourself to the university of your dreams. Logically organized paragraphs containing brief, and descriptive sentences will help you explain why you deserve to join the campus community. Also, a well-polished final draft will seal the deal. 

Hopefully, our step-by-step guide on how to write an admission essay will help you get accepted into the university of your dreams. Your college admission essay is a significant piece of writing, and we'd understand if you wanted some professional help.

We have a dedicated team of custom writing experts who can craft your college application essay from scratch. Custom writing bee professionals will learn your background and interests, brainstorm admission essay topics, and craft a unique statement of purpose that you can proudly submit to a top college. 

Need help with your MBA admission essay? Request professional admission essay help here.

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