The Essay

You’ve heard all about it before, the College Essay (student runs from the hill terrified). Don’t be scared by the college essay. This is a great opportunity for students to shine and stand out from the pack. Students should embrace the freedom inherent within this component of the application; you already have your GPA and test scores. This is a time for you to give the admissions committee a face to those numbers. The Common Application gives you seven prompts and you only need to pick one. They recently added prompt #7, which lets you write about anything you want essentially.

So now that you know you can write about anything, what should you write in your college essay? Here are a few tips I suggest that can make your essay shine:


  • Write about what you know. If you’ve known since you were young, you want to be a nuclear physicist, write about why that profession motivates you and how you hope to contribute to the field. What led you to want to be a nuclear physicist? Is there a vignette that can help someone understand why you want to study that subject?


  • Don’t be afraid to be different and creative. For example, one student discusses how much she loved going to Costco as a kid and how her appetite for food samples matched her appetite for a variety of academic disciplines (she ultimately was admitted into 5 Ivy League Universities).


  • I’m sure your English teacher told you to avoid “to be” verbs. Just like in your English class, try to avoid using to be verbs in your college essay. Use action verbs to make your essay dynamic and sound mature (after all, you’re about to go to college).


  • Out of the myriad of topics you can write about, how do you select just one to discuss in your essay? Simple! Write about what you know and love! Some of the best essay topics can be about seemingly mundane topics, such as the Costco essay discussed above. Another student wrote about he gets his best ideas in the bathroom (yes the bathroom!)—that essay got him into Stanford University.

On a side note, I ultimately transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, and in my transfer essay, I compared transferring schools to how athletes change teams. I loved sports and could tell a convincing story about how changing teams can benefit athletes just like transferring schools would benefit me.

  • Write your story. Who are you? What makes you tic? The college essay should give the admissions committee a glimpse into your personality. Are you the next Jonah Hill? Make sure it shines through.

If you want some ideas about how to craft the next, great college essay, contact Peggy and Adam Amdur and we can help inspire you to write a winning essay. Feel free to reach out to us at 972-998-5810 or at peggy@collegechoicesforyou.com

By: Adam Amdur, Independent Education Consultant

College Choices



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