5. Take some time to understand the Ask behind each essay topic question
Breakdown the meaning of each part of the question, to make sure you have a full picture of what is required of you, before choosing a topic. Ever heard of the saying, haste makes waste? Well that couldn’t be more true when it comes to interpreting the meaning of an essay topic. You will find that on a second, or third or fourth review of the same question, your understanding of it is much different than that initial review. So carefully assess before you decide.
4. Make sure you choose a topic that you have a personal connection to
Remember, the purpose of college admissions essays, isn’t to impress with stellar vocabulary and a long list of unique extracurricular activities, it is to reveal an important aspect of yourself to the admissions officers. Choose a topic in which you are able to express how you persevered through a difficult challenge, grew as a person over a particular season, or why you have committed yourself to serve a particular cause. Focus on revealing who you are through the context of the experience you wish to address.
3. Be authentic
One of the Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of the word authentic is “of undisputed origin; genuine.” That is exactly what you should aim for as a writer. When your end goal is to reflect your personality within your content, so there is no room to question the originality of the work. The reader will be left with a genuine, real, unique encounter with an interesting individual. There is no one else in the world like you – yes that includes you twins, triplets or quadruplets. You carry a one-of-kind expression on this earth, for as long as you alive. So embrace that wholeheartedly in your writing.
2. Discern use of active language verses passive language
Active voice is using clear and concise language in your essays. Great sentences include strong, precise verbs (for example believe, I hear, we act). Lengthier sentences should be few and far between. Since you are the focus of your admissions essays, active voice is ideal because it emphasizes the actor (the student/doer) over the subject. Passive voice has its place, particularly in instances when the action (what needs/needed to be done) is emphasized over the actor. Passive voice can also be used to establish authority in tone (for example: Congress did not vote on the controversial bill this session.) For more guidance on active and passive voice, visit
1. Keep it simple
Really, keep it simple? How can I think of appearing simple when my entire future is riding on this application? That’s a valid thought, and one I would counter with, then how could you not afford to keep it simple when the stakes are so high? Being honest, transparent, and revealing yourself within your content is powerful when it is crafted in an easy-to-understand, impressive flow of sentences (that honor the rules of grammar) while remaining uncomplicated and straightforward. So, keep it simple!