college application essays

Strong college applications are made of more than high grades and impressive extracurricular activities. They use well-crafted essays to leave lasting impressions on the admissions team. College application essays allow applicants to stand out from the competition by highlighting their unique perspective and experiences.

College admissions teams look for applicants with demonstrated interests and who can make meaningful contributions to their campus. In recent years, colleges have realized not all these contributions will be academic. As such, personal and supplemental essays allow applicants to discuss strengths and motivations not covered in their academic history.

The Purpose of Personal Essays

Personal essays provide students an opportunity to speak directly to a college admissions team. It encourages applicants to explain their motivations, goals, and reasons for choosing this college in their own words. Applicants can share how this college ties into their career goals and showcase their passion for their chosen field.

College admissions teams read thousands of personal essays in one admissions cycle. As a result, personal essays are between 650 words or less to streamline the review process. Strong personal essays stand out to admissions teams by leaving a memorable impression.

The Common App offers seven essay prompts designed to create thoughtful personal essays. Each prompt encourages applicants to reflect on their personal talents, moments of personal growth, overcoming adversity, and noteworthy accomplishments. Some schools require supplemental essays, so college admissions teams can learn more about the applicant as an individual.

Strong personal essays can round out a college application and provide a new perspective on the applicant.

Writing Essays for UC Schools

The University of California (UC) school system has nine undergraduate campuses. UC schools have their own common application which includes 8 unique essay prompts. UC school applicants can choose any 4 of these prompts to submit along with their application.

Unlike Common App essay prompts, UC school essay prompts have a 350-word limit. The topics for UC school essay prompts range from leadership and creativity to overcoming adversity and community service. Applicants having difficulty choosing a prompt can group them into different categories.

Categorizing essay prompts based on their commonalities allows applicants to gather their thoughts on each topic. As applicants review their notes, they can determine which topic will produce the strongest essay.

Are College Essays Hard to Write?

College application essays feel more challenging than academic essays because they focus on the applicant rather than academic topics. This means instead of conducting research in traditional ways, applicants must rely on their personal experiences and memories. To give applicants sufficient time to pull the most relevant experiences, we recommend applicants start their college essays early.

Starting early also gives applicants ample time to:

  • Select the best topic
  • Draft their essay
  • Receive feedback
  • Make revisions
  • Write a strong conclusion

We encourage applicants to let an outside party read their essays prior to submission. An outside perspective can catch errors an applicant may have missed such as:

  • Inconsistent tone
  • Grammatical errors
  • Repetitive statements
  • Cliché phrases or topics and more

This feedback can improve an essay’s structure and overall quality.

For the best results, we recommend applicants take time between writing and editing their college application essay. Time away from the piece allows applicants to examine and revise it with fresh eyes. This also allows applicants to take their time writing each essay to ensure they are submitting their strongest work.

That said, completing a high-quality piece of writing should take between 20 to 30 hours.

How Do You Write a College Essay?

Remember, college essays focus on the applicant as an individual. Before writing their essay, applicants should review the provided topics and begin reflecting on past experiences. As they write their initial thoughts on each topic, they can narrow their options based on these notes.

This can help students choose the best topics for their essays.

Once applicants have narrowed their options, they dig deeper into their chosen topics. As applicants brainstorm their essays, they should focus on detailing relevant experiences. These details can help admissions teams better understand the applicant’s perspective.

After brainstorming, students can organize their thoughts with an outline. This provides structure to the essay and creates a logical narrative. It also allows applicants to identify their main points and ensure their message remains concise throughout the essay.

Outlining, drafting, editing, and proofreading can help applicants create strong personal essays. However, each phase takes time. The earlier an applicant begins on their statements, the more time they have for revisions.

C2’s Pilot Essay Writing Program

C2 Education is now offering two virtual college essay writing pilot programs. Those interested in participating in our pilot program must register in-person at any of the following locations:

  • Freemont, CA
  • Jericho, NJ
  • Marlboro, NJ
  • Montvale, NJ
  • San Ramon, CA
  • Gainesville, VA

Our Early Action Program is ideal for students planning to apply through early decision, early action, or to UC schools. It offers ten structured writing sessions and three expert essay reviews. Students enrolled in this program will create at least one Common App essay and two supplemental essays.

Our Multi-Application Program is ideal for students applying to multiple schools through the Common App. It offers twenty structured writing sessions and seven essay reviews. Students enrolled in this program will write at least one Common App essay and six supplemental essays.

Both pilot programs are led by experienced teachers and essay reviewers. They guide students through each section of the essay writing process and provide personalized feedback. Students in both programs will practice writing common types of essays submitted with college applications.

Through structured writing sessions and expert reviews, students in our programs can confidently craft high-quality college application essays. Both programs include college essay examples written by previous C2 students who were accepted into top schools such as:

  • Duke University
  • Georgetown University
  • Harvard University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • UC Berkeley and more!

Both pilot programs are currently running and are set to end December 31, 2023.

Next Steps

Writing strong college application essays may seem daunting, but careful planning and starting early can set applicants on the right path. Strong essays can make all the difference for students applying to top colleges. Crafting an engaging, authentic, and interesting submission should not be left to chance.

Instead of taking on the process alone, work with C2 Education’s pilot programs. If students are not near one of the six pilot locations, check out our current essay writing services. With C2, applicants can rest easy knowing they have submitted their best work.

The clock is ticking for early consideration and the UC system applications. For more information about C2 Education’s essay prep programs, visit our website today!