Crafting the Perfect College Essay

Let’s face it. You want to write a college essay that will get you past the admissions officers and catapulted straight into schools like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, etc…

The good news is, I wrote this article to show you exactly how you can craft an essay that will show admissions officers that you’re a fantastic fit for their school (the same way I’ve done for every teen in my mentorship program, who have all gained admission into their first or second choice schools).

Specifics Count

First off- do NOT empty the thesaurus in your college essay. Specifics are extremely important for college essays, but you should make sure not to go overboard. You need to make sure you are avoiding generic statements and descriptions of events.

The easiest test to use to determine if your college essay is to ask yourself, “if someone picked up this essay and read it, would they be 100% certain that nobody else could’ve written it but me?”

There is a tsunami of applications coming into schools like MIT or University of Pennsylvania, and you need to make sure you are standing out in a way that is unique and authentic to you.

Can I Use Cliches?


Will they keep you from getting in? No, but they certainly will not help. College essays are your opportunity to show admissions officers that you are unique. To stand out to Ivy League schools among other applicants, admissions officers need to see you as an individual. Using cliches will almost certainly take away from your individuality. 

Instead of using cliches, try adding some humor to your essay. If you can make an admissions officer smile, laugh, or feel curious to get to know more about you, it will drastically increase your odds of gaining admission into the top US schools. 

Can I Use Contractions?

I’ve heard so many parents complain about how their child can’t use contractions in their college essay. That’s a lie! You can absolutely use contractions in your college essay. Your essay should be a conversation in your voice. You should not worry about using contractions in your essay. 

If you’ve made it this far, I want to give you a secret strategy I tell me mentees who are struggling with their college essays:

If you already have your draft, walk around with your essay. You can pick a room in the house, go outside, a park, etc. Then, walk around and read your essay. Motion breeds clarity. I guarantee that when you do this, something in your essay will pop out that seems inauthentic or doesn’t seem like your real voice, etc. 

Avoid the Topics Everyone Else is Writing About

I love my grandfather. He taught me so many life lessons. However, I didn’t write about him in my college essay and neither should you. If you love Elton John like I do, that’s great, but you shouldn’t write about him. If you were inspired by a trip to Paris, we should talk about it, but leave it out of the essay!

Your grandfather isn’t applying to UC Berkeley. Elton John isn’t applying to Columbia University. YOU are applying to the top schools in the United States. 

Now, if these experiences truly impact who you are as a person, you can most definitely mention them in passing in your essay, but this essay is about you, and you want to stick to the prompt. 

One of the best essays I’ve ever seen was written about a grain of sand. Let that sink in!

Comma Splices

I’ve seen some incredibly educated people from Ivy League schools use comma splices in their writing. A comma splice is a dividing line between two independent clauses.

I don’t mean to be an english teacher here (even though I started my career as an english teacher) but using comma splices is the kind of thing that will get your essay trashed and prevent you from gaining admission into Ivy League schools. 

If you like this article, make sure you check out my other resources for gaining admission into the top US schools!

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