Let’s face it, writing an essay is not everyone’s cup of tea. Add on the pressure of writing one that may essentially play a part at getting you into the college of your choice. It is easy to let this process overwhelm you. But, don’t let it.  Believe it or not, constructing your essay may even be fun. That is if you allow yourself to see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. It is an opportunity to express yourself, your passion and your goals.

I myself have written two college essays. One for my undergraduate college, and another for my postgraduate. Both were well received and, I believe, played a big role into my acceptance at these schools. I believe there is an essential foundation in creating a successful college essay. That foundation is based upon being genuine and being your own unique individual.

Knowing Yourself

Your essay question will most likely be vague. For example, a college may ask why you want to attend their university. They may ask you what qualities you will bring to the table. But the most important questions are the ones you ask yourself. What do I want to do? Where do I want to study? What are my strengths and weaknesses? The most important question being: What is my story?

Colleges go through thousands upon thousands of essays. If you can hone in on what makes you thrive and what makes you passionate, yours will stand out from the rest. That is the goal when writing a college essay, and this is where you will grab the attention of the college you are trying to reach. Do not be hesitant to show your personality or to express your strengths.

My Postgraduate Essay Question:

“Why are you choosing the University of Limerick for your postgraduate degree?”

When I read this question, the answer seemed easy enough when I thought about It. Writing it down? Not so much. This is the biggest challenge students face; translating what they want to say onto paper. Constructing your thoughts into a well thought out, concise essay is not so easy. The point is you have to brainstorm. Give yourself time to think about the real reasons why you are applying to a particular school. Write things on paper. Think about all of the reasons you are applying to college in the first place. Do not be afraid to add a personal touch. Your personal touch is the difference between colleges reading another essay, and seeing a potential student.

A common mistake students make is trying to sound overly academic while writing their essays. A thesaurus can be useful in many cases, but be sure to not overdo it. Trying to use exemplary vocabulary makes many lose focus on the point of the admissions essay. That focus, of course, is being yourself.  


As I stated before, do not let this essay become a detour on your road to the college of your choice. See it as an opportunity, or a chance to prove yourself. Have fun with it. The pressure of taking the next step into higher education is enough to make writing this essay a daunting process. There are ways to make it less challenging.

The structure of the essay is always very important, but what may be slightly more important are words within it. A lot of students stress about the layout of the pages and focus entirely too much on what could go wrong from a technical standpoint. This can distract them from the true meaning of the admissions essay. I assure you, while grammar, punctuation and spelling are of course, important, nothing can be more important than your message.

The point is, do not try to make edits, and tell your story all at once. Get your points across, your voice heard and there will always be time to make the corrections.

The Ugly Truth

Believe it or not; not everyone knows what they want to do with their life when they are eighteen, twenty, thirty, even forty. The best you can do is explore your options and make the best decision possible. Once you focus on the colleges you find attractive, the goal is to gain their interest.

This is a challenge that a lot of students face. Some are lucky enough to know what they want to pursue, and can express this when constructing their essays for college. This does not mean you have a disadvantage. Quite the contrary, you have a plethora of options, a path to pave, and your college essay is just the starting point.


Give yourself enough time to brainstorm. Whether you are a student who knows exactly what career you want to pursue, or if you are one of the many who is still exploring, the point of this essay is to express who you are, your goals and strengths.

Research the school you are interested in. It is always important to know the background of the colleges that strike your interest. You should mention in your essay, the reasons you are interested in the college you are applying to, and how this will directly relate to your own, personal story.

Jot things down as you go. Your thoughts today will be entirely different than your thoughts tomorrow. If you consistently track your ideas, you are likely to find it easier to piece together your essay.

Final Note

There are several steps you can take to prepare for the submission of your college essay. You are given the tools as a high school student to construct a piece that is academic and technically correct. This is the chance to put a bit of you into your message.

Give it time, honesty and your best efforts, and your college essay will lead you down the path you are intended to.