Do’s and Don’ts When Writing Your College Essay

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Essay Writing

A big congratulations on closing out another academic school year and all you have been able to accomplish, summer is upon us! Perhaps you are still finalizing your summer plans or gearing up for what is planned. However, if you are a rising senior, college applications, including college essays, will be integral to your summer agenda. It may feel surreal to be already talking about college essays, but Campus Bound is here to help you develop a strong essay topic you are confident in and provide professional editorial assistance with this unique form of writing. Even better, your college list does not have to be final to begin writing! 

What TO DO when writing my college essay?

  • Start early– this is why we are bringing up essays in the month of June!  Essays take time and you want to give yourself plenty of it. We have students start by brainstorming ideas before moving into their first draft.  
  • Answer the prompt you select– this may sound obvious, but oftentimes, students write a solid essay without fully answering the prompt they selected.  This is where brainstorming with your college counselor is helpful to flush out your ideas, first. You also have to stick to a word count, so it is essential to stay on topic. 
  • Let it be your voice– each person has their own way of writing so let your voice be heard! This will help the reader truly understand who you are. This also includes not allowing someone or something to write your essay for you. This is taken very seriously.

What NOT TO DO when writing my college essay?

  • Avoid cliche topics–every student’s story is unique and you want that to stand out in your college essay. Avoid commonly used topics, but if necessary to use, find a way to make it specific to you. Remember, colleges are reading thousands of essays each year. 
  • “Too many cooks”– it is common to want feedback from others, perhaps a parent, teacher, friend, etc. but you want to avoid having too many “cooks in the kitchen” when it comes to the editing process. The college essay is a different style of essay that students often have not yet had to write. We encourage you to lean on the knowledge and expertise of your Campus Bound counselor and essay specialist to guide you through this process.
  • Be mindful of controversial/inappropriate topics– the goal here is to not offend the person(s) reading your essays. This essay is all about YOU, so be aware of how you position your strong beliefs/opinions. 

Outside of everything that has been included in your application, your essay(s) are where the admissions committee will “meet” you through the power of your story and experiences. Over the course of of the summer, you can begin working on your Common Application Personal Statement for most private and public colleges/universities, and if you are applying to the University of California system, you can also begin your Personal Insight Questions (PIQs), since we have confirmation of those topics for the 2024-2025 application cycle.

Writing college essays is a process, but nonetheless a fun and personal way to allow the colleges to learn more about who you are through a holistic admissions review. Start early and set aside the necessary time to write and revise. How you take advantage of the summer will alleviate stress in the fall. We are so excited to help you get started!


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