Our Essential Essay Do’s and Don’ts

One of the reasons so many families hire Campus Bound over the summer is so that students can complete their college essay BEFORE senior year.  Our counselors and essay specialists are available all summer long and we love helping students write amazing essays and taking this big task off their fall to-do lists.

In this blog, we wanted to provide our top tips for writing the college essay. Print this out, and share it with friends, because this information is essential to know before you start writing.

What to expect:

Most colleges want one essay that is between 400-650 words in length.  Some schools give a specific essay prompt, while others will accept any essay that answers the current Common Application or Coalition Application essay prompts. Regardless, there are certain things to keep in mind when writing a college essay.


Some Essential Do’s and Don’ts:

DO: Consider the purpose of writing a college essay, which is two-fold.  First, colleges are looking at the mechanics of your writing and making sure you can do college-level work.  Second, they want to learn more about you. Your essay is an opportunity for you to highlight a part of your personality or an experience that you aren’t able to showcase elsewhere in your application.


DON’T: procrastinate. It’s important to give yourself as much time as possible to write a thoughtful, comprehensive essay.  An essay that is rushed will likely not be your best work.  Additionally, its important to have your essay read by two individuals: ideally, an English teacher, and a College Counselor.  At Campus Bound, our extraordinary team of essay specialists are able to make edits and suggestions to help you make your essay the best it can be.


Do: show and analyze rather than tell.  That means, be descriptive and creative.  Don’t just tell the reader that the water was blue; describe the blue water and allow the reader to sense what you are describing.  “The water was blue and cold” isn’t as good as “The icy, blue water sent chills down my spine and within minutes I was frozen to the core.”


DON’T: try to cram too much into one essay.  Think small. Think about one experience, or even smaller…one part of one experience.  Be specific and descriptive.


DO: make sure the essay is about YOU.  Often times, students write about a friend or family member who was particularly influential, but without making the majority of the essay about YOU, the college will wonder who is actually applying: you? Or your grandmother?


DON’T: write about topics that are over-used: community service trips and athletics are way over-done. Think about the admission counselors who read thousands of college essays.  When an essay starts out with…” My community service trip to Guatemala was a real eye-opener for me…” they yawn.  Sorry, but it’s true.  You can write about a part of that experience, something very specific, but usually its best to avoid over-used topics all together.


DO: answer the writing prompt.  It’s important to pay attention to the question each specific college is asking and answer that question.  Re-using an essay is okay when it comes to the Common Application, but college-specific essay questions need special consideration.


Campus Bound counselors are experts in helping students find topics and write essays that are positive additions to a student’s application.  A well-written essay can be a real benefit.  Contact Campus Bound today to find out how we help students with their essays, or to have your essay analyzed by a college essay specialist.


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