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Applying for College? Here is How to Write an Essay that Stands Out

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It’s no secret that applying to college, especially top schools, isn’t getting any easier. Standards seem to keep climbing while the sea of competition seems to grow. Your college application essay is one of the first (and most important) steps you’ll need to ace in order to ensure you stand out to your college’s admissions board.

Thankfully, once you know exactly what the admission board is looking for, writing a winning essay isn’t so hard. This post will help you learn top tips on how to make your college application essay stand out from the crowd. Plus, we’ll also cover how to find the best essay writing service to help you get past common roadblocks.

First, let’s cover the basics on writing application essays. Before you know it, you'll need a guide on how to get a job after college.

Do You Have to Write a College Application Essay?

Most accredited universities and colleges will require all applicants to submit an essay. If you’re applying to a vocational school or community college, you may not need to, but this is not always the case. If in doubt, it’s better to be prepared than to assume you won’t have to write one. That way, you won’t be taken by surprise, and you’ll be better equipped to succeed.

Plus, even if a college doesn’t require you to submit an application essay, you might still have the option to. This can work to your advantage. Read on to learn why it’s worth mastering a college application essay and the steps you’ll need to take to get there.

Why Should You Write a College Application Essay?

There’re a couple key things a college application essay does for you:

  1. Sets you apart. That’s right; even though every application may need to write one, each essay will be different. Think of it like this: instead of only being given four options on a multiple-choice test, you have an entire page, (or two or three), to express yourself in a way that no other applicant will. The words you write are up to you. You get to create your first impression. Remember, they’re not looking for cookie-cutter applicants. The admissions board is looking for individuals who are strikingly unique.
  2. Shows your admissions board why you are a great fit for the school. Your essay is basically your chance to market yourself to the school of your choice. Try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone on the admissions board. What kind of students do they want in their school? How do your strengths match what they’re looking for? If you’re confused about what specifics your school might be looking for, an essay writing service can help you pinpoint some specifics.
  3. Shows off your communication abilities. College application boards love to see students who can write and communicate clearly, professionally, and in a way that’s captivating. Like it or not, since writing is the first impression, you’ll give of yourself to your college’s board, how well you write matters. But what if writing’s not your strong suit? Struggling to write well shouldn’t keep you from sharing your brilliance and furthering your education. If this is you, an essay writing service can help you get past this roadblock. We’ll talk about how at the end of this post.

8 Simple Steps to Writing a Winning College Application Essay

If that blank paper is looking a little daunting, these steps will help you kick writer’s block and write with confidence. If you have to write on an extremely specific topic that requires more in-depth planning, most essay writing services can also offer helpful guides for different subjects.

1) Understand Your Audience

Know what they’re looking for. First, it’s critical to understand who you’ll be writing to. Sure, it’s a college admissions board, but what specific things does the board care about? In other words, what types of students are they looking for? Is it an arts school or an engineering school? A nursing school or a business school?

For example, your admissions board is probably looking for applicants who show a lot of potential in their area of emphasis. If your school is a business school, your board might be looking for candidates who show an entrepreneurial spirit. If your school is a nursing university, they might be looking for students who have a basic understanding of the healthcare industry and are passionate about helping others. Many schools will specify different GPA and other achievement requirements. Make sure you know what these are so you can mention your qualifications in your essay.

Look past the prompt. Finally, think about the unspoken question, which is usually, “Why should we admit you into our school?” In other words, a college application essay prompt might say something like, “write about your postgraduate career plans,” or “describe a situation in which you had to take a leadership position.” But, what all of these questions are really asking is, “why would you be an ideal candidate for our school,” “why should we help fund your education,” and “what can you contribute to our community?” Make sure that how you write, and how you answer the essay prompt actually answers these questions. Steps two through eight, below, will help you do that.

2) Define Your Strengths, Goals and Topic

After you’re clear on the specifics of what your board is looking for, make a list of the experiences, goals, achievements and qualifications you have that match those requirements. This includes formal and informal experience.

For instance, if you’re applying to a nursing program, your school is probably looking for applicants that can demonstrate how they’ll be able to contribute to today’s healthcare industry through leadership and research. List the experiences and achievements you have that match this.

For example, maybe you’ve worked as a certified nurse aid during high school or your undergraduate career. Perhaps you’ve volunteered in an assisted living facility. Or, even if you haven’t had direct experience with a healthcare facility, maybe your experience babysitting, caring for an elderly family member, or spending your free time reading about medicine gave you inspiration and ideas you’ll contribute to your career. Stuck on ideas? Most essay writing services have great writing sample examples to get you started.

3) Think of a Matching Story and Use it as a Hook

Stories are fantastic tools you can use to write in an engaging way. They illustrate your point and show your experience in a way your readers (the admissions board) can relate to. This is, of course, what you want. You want the admissions board to pick up your essay and immediately be able to imagine what you’re talking about—to experience what you’re telling them. Then, after you’ve begun your essay with an engaging story hook, you can explain how it applies to your future education career.

So, now that you’ve matched your experiences with the things your college application board is looking for, think of a story that explains your experience. Use compelling language and adjectives to describe it. Back to the nursing example: perhaps you had an impactful experience caring for someone that made you want to pursue a career in healthcare. What was special about that experience? What did it feel like? What was the outcome? What did it teach you? Jot down answers to these questions. Don’t worry about writing it well yet. Right now, you’re just getting your ideas down. You can organize and edit them later.

Thinking of what to write about can be the toughest part, so once you’ve made it this far, it usually gets easier! But, if you’re still stuck, an essay writing service can help provide great feedback and thought-joggers to get you on the right track.

4) Create an Outline

Speaking of organizing, once you’re clear on your audience, your topic, and a story you’ll use, it’s time to organize those ideas into an outline. If you like organizing, this part can be fun: all you’re doing is mapping ideas or putting them in order. This makes the writing process that follows much easier.

But, if organizing isn’t your strong suit, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s part of being human, and it’s completely ok to ask for help when we need it. Besides, organizing a clear outline is a critical step in making sure your essay flows and reads logically to your readers. So, if you need help, this is a critical time to reach out for professional guidance from an essay writing service or a peer mentor. It’s important you have the tools you need to succeed.

Here’s a general outline guide to get you started:

Section: What it is: Its purpose:
1 Story Hook (Introduction) Captivates your readers and shows your personal, relatable experience to the topic.
2 Explanation (Body) This is your chance to tie your story into your topic and explain how it relates to your educational and future career.
3 Your Goals (Body) If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to clarify your goals for the future (tell your admissions board how you plan to use your education) as well as any other critical achievements (like GPA).
4 Unique Perspective (Conclusion) Conclude by leaving your readers with a thought-provoking, interesting perspective you have that relates to your topic of study. Why should they remember you? What unique contributions will you give to your school and your career? If you’re stuck and need examples, reach out to an essay writing service for help.

Need help with your outline? Check out our guide on how to write a research outline.

5) Free Write Your First Draft

Now the writing process begins. But since you already have a clear outline in place, there’s no reason to feel intimidated. Plus, when you write this first draft, you’ll be free writing within the sections of the outline you’ve already made for yourself. This is how you’ll do that:

Start with each section of your outline and time yourself for 10 or 20 minutes. Write everything you can think of that applies to that section, without stopping—and without editing—for ten or twenty minutes. Just write. Resist the urge to edit or critique your writing. This a great tool for getting those first words out and overcoming writer’s block. Don’t worry if something sounds silly or there are lots of typos. You’ll come back to edit later.

6) Write Your Second Draft

Once you’ve free-written the content and ideas in each section, go back through and edit or re-write, as needed, those ideas in a way that flows and sounds polished and professional. During this process, you’ll be re-arranging sentences and taking out things that don’t belong, or don’t make sense. You might even think of other things you want to add, to expand on a point. Go ahead and do that too. Save the nit-picky, grammatical editing for later. At this point, you’re focusing on things like flow and tone. The idea is to get a solid draft written that reads well and communicates your point clearly.

7) Edit

Now it’s time to start editing those smaller details. You can still focus on sentence structure and flow, but this time you edit, start paying attention to spelling and grammatical errors. At this point in the process, you’re cleaning up your draft and preparing it for the eyes of your college admissions board. This is a great place to ask for help from an essay writing service, a friend, peer or teacher. For example, our dissertation editing services can connect you to an experienced dissertation writer to edit your paper and give you constructive feedback.

8) Edit Again

Your final round of editing will be a thorough proofread to catch spelling, grammatical and any other errors. You may even want to read your draft a third or fourth time. Or, better yet, ask a trusted friend or peer to proofread your draft for you. If you want to be absolutely sure you’re putting your best foot forward, you may consider hiring a top-notch essay writing service to edit your draft.

Pro Essay Writing Tips

  • Avoid fillers. Remember, your admissions board is reading hundreds, if not thousands of essays. Be clear, concise, and to-the-point.
  • Write with Confidence. Confidence is key to success in many areas of life. When you’re writing a college application essay, you want to find a fine balance between confidence and humility. Be confident in your abilities, but humble and grateful for the opportunity to apply to your university. If you’re not sure if you’ve pinpointed a confident and humble tone, ask a professional essay writing service for feedback.
  • Make it emotionally captivating. This is where stories come in. Use adjectives and specifics. Make your stories tangible and relatable. Ask yourself, “could my reader easily imagine what it’s like to be inside this story?”
  • Make sure it flows. Are your ideas logically connected? Are there seamless transitions between paragraphs? Again, if you’re stuck here, feedback from an essay writing service or a peer can help.
  • Let your individuality shine. Again, your admissions board is likely reading thousands of essays. Choose an essay topic that is unique and highlights how you’re different. After all, this is your time to shine!

How Can an Essay Writing Service Help you with Your College Application Essay?

If there’s ever a time to seek help with the writing process, the college application essay is definitely one. When your future education depends on it, you’ll want to be sure you’re making the best impression possible. As a re-cap, here’s some of the ways an essay writing service can help you succeed:

  • Creating an outline
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Editing and proofreading your draft
  • Providing feedback and ideas
  • Offering polished, outstanding, example essays to use as guides and to get ideas from

These are just a few of the ways an essay service can help. But before you reach out to a paper writing service, be sure you choose from the best writing services available. Start with the checklist above, and if you’re still stuck, don’t be afraid to reach out to an essay writing service for help!



Ultius, Inc. "Applying for College? Here is How to Write an Essay that Stands Out." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 08 Mar. 2019. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-write-college-essays-that-stand-out.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2019, March 08). Applying for College? Here is How to Write an Essay that Stands Out. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-write-college-essays-that-stand-out.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Applying for College? Here is How to Write an Essay that Stands Out." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. March 08, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-write-college-essays-that-stand-out.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Applying for College? Here is How to Write an Essay that Stands Out." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. March 08, 2019 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-write-college-essays-that-stand-out.html.

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