This holiday season, get ready for the college application questions. Every family member will want to know where you’ve hit submit and where you are still considering. For most students, the most stressful part of the college application is that dreaded essay. As you are polishing those essays, keep in mind these eight rules for writing the best college application essay possible.

1. Tell the truth.

This essay is a reflection of who you are. Do not lie. The admissions committees can check details, and, more importantly, it is never a good idea to start off a life changing experience on a lie. Most colleges will also tell you that they will null any acceptances based on lies. Show off who you are actually are, not who you think they want.

2. Answer the question.

If they ask you to tell about a time where you showed leadership, tell them that answer. It doesn’t matter if you wrote a perfect answer if it’s the wrong question. Most college essays can be the same, but every once in a while, you’ll have to write a second essay. Prepare yourself.

3. Tell a relatable story

This essay is not a resume. The reader wants to get a sense of who you are. Think of this as a narrative style essay. You still need to have an introduction, body and conclusion, but make sure that your essay is readable and understandable. If possible, frame your answer as a story.

4. If you are funny, be funny. If you are not, don’t try.

Just be yourself. Nothing is more painful than someone desperately trying to get people to laugh. The goal of this essay is to help you, not force you to do something you are not good at.

5. #humblebrag

The application readers will know about all the awards you have received. You list those elsewhere. In your essay, tell the readers what you are passionate about, why you won those awards, what matters to you, and why you are, well, you. This is the time to #humblebrag.

6. Edit your essay for grammar


7. Double check grammar

No, really.

8. Avoid hokey phrases

Your essay is the chance to stand out. Avoid cliches. Every reader has read at least a thousand essays that use the phrase, “I went to [country], and I never realized how lucky I was until then.” Your life is not a Lifetime movie. Be real and realistic.

Follow those tips and you'll be golden! Before you can write your essays, you should probably figure out how to pick the right colleges to apply to in the first place.


Authored by Kate Hunger

Kate helps students find their best fit school. She writes about the essential, surprising, and sometimes funny questions everyone has while applying to college.