Here are some useful resources for those who want to learn more about the college essay and how to write an exceptional one. Good information and advice can be very helpful, but it should go without saying that nothing can take the place of intensive, personalized, one-on-one support from an experienced essay coach.
Common application prompts
Good advice from the web
- USA Today – 9 essay writing tips to ‘wow’ college admissions officers
- BigFuture – Various college application essay articles
- Khan Academy – Writing a strong college admissions essay
Here are just a few of my favorite books on how to write a strong admissions essay.
- College Essay Essentials: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Successful College Admissions Essay, by Ethan Sawyer
- Ethan is brilliant. Among his many phenomenal contributions is the guidance he provides on what is arguably the most difficult and most important part of the admissions essay writing process: brainstorming and topic selection. He has devised specific introspective exercises that can be enormously helpful in the process. Honestly, I’ve done them myself, and I was shocked at how powerful they are in facilitating personal discoveries.
- On Writing the College Application Essay, 25th Anniversary Edition: The Key to Acceptance at the College of Your Choice, by Harry Bauld
- Excellent book. The author knows his stuff, without question, but his book is also entertaining and fun. His style is clear, informal, and just plain funny. He does an especially good job of describing your audience—the overworked, underpaid, and likely jaded folks who will be reading your essay. Highly recommended.
- Write Your Way In: Crafting an Unforgettable College Admissions Essay, by Rachel Toor
- So good. Toor deftly argues that a good essay doesn’t catalogue accomplishments (what I sometimes call the “Why I’m Awesome” essay—invariably generic and boring!). There is no secret formula—no magic shortcut—to a strong essay, she correctly observes, because a strong essay uniquely captures the life, mind, feelings, and voice of the writer. There’s only one you, and you’re way more interesting than your probably think!
- College Essays That Made a Difference, by the Staff of the Princeton Review
- Please, please, please read strong college essays written by read students. Doing so will give you a feel for what makes a essay “work,” and in a way that nothing else could.
Interesting web articles on the college essay
- New York Times – “The Almighty Essay,” (2011)
- I strongly recommend this article. Seriously, read it—it’s pretty short. It discusses the growing importance of the essay, thanks in part to the growing competitiveness of the college admissions process in general.