How Can I Make My College Essay Stand Out?

How Can I Make My College Essay Stand Out?

How Can I Make My College Essay Stand Out?


In the competitive landscape of college admissions, where countless applications flood the desks of admissions officers, it's essential to make your college admissions essay stand out from the rest. While many applicants overlook the importance of the college essay, it presents a valuable opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. Especially as more schools become test-optional and admissions counselors turn to essays to learn more about potential students and what makes them stand out. 


Here are some tips to help your college essay go that extra mile.


Start with a Hook

Every college essay needs to start with a compelling, captivating hook. It’s important to remember that admissions officers read thousands of applications and essays, so starting your essay with an attention grabbing hook is key to drawing your reader in. A personal anecdote will quickly engross your reader with your narrative, making it a great way to start your essay. Using descriptive language immerses your reader in your story, setting the stage for the rest of your essay. Another compelling way to hook your admissions reader is to begin with a thought-provoking question. Starting with a question prompts the reader to reflect on their own perspective, thus engaging them with your essay. At the end of the day, there are no set rules for what a hook should be, so get creative! And when it doubt, try ESAI’s outlining tool for hook ideas that are unique to your specific story. 


Be Authentic

The best way to showcase your identity in your college application is through your essay —  so use this opportunity to be yourself! Your own personal story and voice will always be more interesting than pretending to be someone you're not. Admissions officers can spot insincerity, and what they are really looking for is a student whose personality shines through their essay. Tell a story that is authentic to you, and avoid playing it safe with overdone topics. Instead, opt for something unique that will stick in the reader's mind. In the world of competitive college admissions, it's easy to feel like you're behind if you haven’t started a non-profit or climbed Mt. Everest, but remember that your life experiences are just as valuable. The best essays come from the heart, so rather than letting your mom pick your college essay topic, chose a moment in your life that is truly meaningful to you. And let ESAI help you connect the dots from there. 


Be Specific

A great way to make your college essay stand out is by including specific and personal details. Using specific details in your story emphasizes that this essay is coming from you, not from the internet, or a college counselor, or your parent. Additionally, adding specific details allows the reader to gain a clear understanding of your story, and the overall message you are trying to convey. It is far more powerful to infuse your essay with specific details, rather than filling it with broad, cliché statements. Don't write what you think the admissions officers want to hear, but instead focus on creating a clear and cohesive theme. This will make your essay far more memorable and engaging to the reader, while also illustrating who you are as a person. ESAI’s story-first approach can help.


Highlight Growth

Admissions officers don't want to read an essay complaining or groveling about past, unchangeable circumstances. If you are writing about overcoming a challenging situation, always highlight your personal growth rather than dwelling on the negative. It’s okay to talk about your struggles and hardships, but make sure you also discuss the lessons you learned from the situation, and how you’ve grown from it. Competitive colleges love to see that you are able to handle tough situations, because it proves you can handle the university’s rigorous coursework.


Utilize Your Personal Writing Style

Infusing your own style into your college essay is a powerful tool to ensure it stands out amongst the rest. Universities want to admit dynamic thinkers, who are able to convey ideas and represent themselves through writing. Show colleges you are a capable writer by using your own personal style. AI is great for brainstorming and editing, but always inject your own personality when putting your story into writing. Admissions essays should paint a picture of who you are as a person. Writing style is a perfect way to get your personality across. 


Take Risks

Write about an unexpected topic! Be funny! Be yourself! Taking a calculated risk in your college essay will help it to soar above the rest. But make sure there is thought and intention behind the risks you take. Don't turn your college essay into a poem “just ‘cause.” Instead, take a risk you feel confident in, one that aligns with the story you are trying to tell. 


Remember, the goal of your essay is to provide the admissions committee with insights into who you are beyond your grades and test scores. By showcasing your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations, you can create an essay that tells a compelling story. And ESAI is here to help your story work harder for you. 

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