Writing a College Essay

A guest blog by Dominique Padurano, Ph.D. – aka Dr. P. – the Founder and President of Crimson Coaching, a boutique college consultancy based in New York. You can read more of Dr. P.’s advice on the college application process here. Dr. P. works with students of all ages around the globe. For more information, visit www.crimsoncoaching.com.


How to Write an Outstanding Scholarship or College Application Essay?

Like applying to college, securing a scholarship is often a competitive endeavor, with many deserving candidates vying for limited opportunities. One key element that can set you apart from the rest is a compelling essay. This 500-word guide aims to provide insights and tips on how to write an essay that will capture the attention of selection committees.

  1. Understand the Prompt: Before diving into the writing process, thoroughly analyze the essay prompt provided by the scholarship program, Common App, or college. Identify key themes, requirements, and questions that need to be addressed. Understanding the prompt is crucial for crafting a targeted and relevant essay that directly addresses the expectations and needs of the scholarship committee or college.
  2. Tell Your Unique Story: A great scholarship or college essay goes beyond listing achievements and qualifications. It is an opportunity to showcase your personality, experiences, and aspirations. Share personal anecdotes and unique aspects of your journey that make you stand out. A compelling narrative creates a memorable impression and allows the reader to connect with you on a deeper level.
  3. Focus on Your Achievements: While it’s essential to share personal stories, don’t forget to highlight the positive impact you’ve had in your community or field. Discuss specific instances where you demonstrated leadership, perseverance, or a commitment to making a difference. Providing evidence of your accomplishments adds credibility to your essay. You can elevate your essay by connecting your experiences to broader themes. Consider the societal impact of your experiences, highlighting your role in creating positive change. This approach adds depth to your essay and demonstrates your awareness of the world beyond your immediate surroundings.
  4. Self-Reflection, Authenticity, and Balance: Before delving into the writing process, take the time for self-reflection. Understand your values, experiences, and aspirations. Authenticity is key in crafting an essay that stands out. Admissions officers and selection committees appreciate genuine narratives that provide insight into who you are as an individual. While it’s important to highlight your achievements, striking the right balance is crucial. Avoid coming across as boastful or overly confident. Instead, focus on the lessons learned from your accomplishments and how they contribute to your growth as an individual. Admissions officers and scholarship committees are interested in your character as much as your achievements.
  5. Tailor Your Essay to the Scholarship or College: Customize your essay for each scholarship application. The same goes for supplemental essays required by many colleges. Highlight aspects of your background and experiences that align with the specific goals and values of the scholarship program or the university. Adapting your essay to fit the unique criteria of each opportunity demonstrates your dedication and attention to detail. Make sure to include details from the institution’s website to showcase that you’ve done your homework and are willing to go the extra mile.
  6. Edit and Proofread: After completing your initial draft, take the time to edit and proofread your essay. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and clarity of expression. Consider seeking feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors to gain valuable perspectives on how to improve and refine your essay. Revision is an essential part of the writing process, and taking the time to polish your essay ensures that it reflects your best work. If you need assistance with any part of this process, feel free to reach out to me at info@crimsoncoaching.com. As a former high school teacher, academic tutor, SAT and ACT tutor, and college essay and scholarship essay coach, I’ve helped scores of students secure collectively millions of dollars in scholarship aid, as well as admissions to these colleges (see scrolling list in middle of web page).

In conclusion, writing a great scholarship or college application essay requires a combination of self-reflection, storytelling, and attention to detail. By understanding the prompt, sharing your unique story, emphasizing achievements in a balanced, authentic manner, tailoring your essay to each scholarship or institution, you can create a compelling and memorable piece that leave a lasting impression, increasing your chances of admission or securing that coveted scholarship.

Continuing on the college theme, please check out Igor Tsukerman’s blog post, How to Maximize Your Financial Aid.

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