How to Write a College Essay: Detailed Guide

What Is the College Essay

There's no universal definition for college essays, but let us tell you ours:

Your college essay is basically a personal essay that serves to impress the board and get you into the school of your choice.

This type of paper has a huge importance and can impact your entire future. That is why it should not be taken lightly. It's not fiction writing and, even though it should include elements of academic writing to demonstrate your skills, it's more of a personal, creative assignment.

To guarantee your way in the college of your dreams, you need the best college essay you can write. What better way to learn about writing a college essay than from people who have done many successful papers on a regular basis?

That being said, let us start with our amazing college essay writing guide.

College essay structure

There are different ways to approach the college essay structure. As a matter of fact, when we get requests from students to write this for them, they often have specific instructions. Some say: I want you to write my college essay about this big failure that I experienced that made me a better person. Others want it to talk about a positive experience and pinpoint to their strengths because of it.

We like to differentiate between two structures of college essays:

Option no. 1: Vignette structure

This structuring discusses different experiences that, at first, can even seem unrelated. Throughout the writing, the author unites them and comes up with a common theme. This is what you write when you want to share more stories and not focus only on one. In this type of paper, there might be some college essay headings to help the reader differentiate between the stories.

Option no. 2: Single-story structure

This is more of a narrative essay, one that focuses on a single story that will demonstrate your traits and your character. In this type of structure, there usually aren't headings and the thoughts flow and are connected. It's often written in a hierarchical order, but some might mix it up to make it more entertaining.

How long should a college essay be

The college essay word limit is set by the institution you are applying to get into. If you submit to multiple colleges, you'll have to check these instructions individually. Even so, in most cases, writing a college essay can be narrowed down to a maximum of 600 or 650 words.

Still, you should check the details before you start writing a college essay, especially if the task is to write an institution-specific, supplemental paper. These are usually much smaller in size.

How to start a college essay

It all begins by picking the topic for college essay. Do you have an idea as to what to write your college essay about? As you can expect, this will have a tremendous impact on the success of your task. The best college essay has a strong, well-thought out topic.

If you don't have college essay ideas, look online. Find some examples and consider using a college essay template for writing that task. When you have finally narrowed it down to your favorite college essay topics, make an outline of what you'd write in each – that should help you make the final decision.

At any point, don't forget that you have the option to buy college essay online, which will also include the college essay writer providing you with help with picking that topic.

When you have this ready, it's time to begin the college essay writing process. Keep in mind that every college essay writer has a different approach and preference for this. You don't have to add a college essay header or start with the introduction.

Still, for the sake of maintaining this guide based on the format for college essay papers, we'll provide you with some tips for the introduction first.

Step 1: Use a college essay outline

When you made your decision about the topic, you already had some ideas about what to include in your writing. This part of the college essay format should introduce your topic and perhaps share some background information. Use your notes and your outline to craft something engaging that reels the reader in.

Step 2: Engage your reader

Make a big statement, ask a question, provide the reader with some strange information… Your college essay introduction should not just introduce your topic – it should also be convincing enough to make the readers keep reading.

Step 3: Have a thesis statement ready

We all know that the purpose of this essay is to get you in that college. That's your thesis statement. Find a unique way to tell the reader that you want to enroll into their college.

How to write a body of college essay

College essay writing is much different from crafting argumentative or other essay kinds. This is a personal essay, which means that your task won't be: find data, present it, make arguments, convince the reader, etc. In this paper, each of the paragraphs has a topic sentence and a bunch of things that will support it. You need to also contextualize this for the reader i.e. provide throughout explanations of the topic sentence.

There are five main components of the body of a college essay:

Component 1: Topic sentence

This sentence summarizes the main point of your paragraph. One of the best college essay tips we can give you is to decide on the topic sentences of each paragraph first, and focus on the summary of them all afterward.

Component 2: Expansion of the topic

When you have the topic sentence ready, you need to make the points clear and elaborate on what you've said. In every paragraph, make sure to explain, expand and elaborate.

Component 3: Examples

One of our college essay tips is to provide examples to make your essay more personal. These belong in the body paragraphs.

Component 4: Analysis

Tell the readers why they should care, how the story unravels and how you felt about it. Tell them why this changed you, why it's important to them, etc.

Component 5: Transitions

Now it's time to link all those topic statements and their descriptions with transitions. In most cases, there won't be a college essay heading structure because this task is personal and short. But, you might decide to add some headings to split up different topics.

How to end a college essay

This part might just be the toughest one of them all. You can't just summarize what you've said above like you do in your research papers. That's one of the best college essay tips we can give you – never use this part to summarize!

Essays that work are unique and end in a way that makes the reader want to hear more about you. It should make them interested in accepting you in the college. Here are some tips for your conclusion:

  • Don't summarize. Never, ever waste the little words you have to repeat things in this essay.
  • Stay away from clichés like ‘in conclusion' or ‘to conclude'. They don't belong in this type of writing.
  • Don't beg for it. People know why you wrote this essay, you don't have to remind them of it all over again. Just end your story with a bang, and make it memorable.

How to format a college essay

How you format this task will depend on how you are submitting it – in a text box or in a file. It will also be determined by the instruction of the college you are applying for. Some have very specific demands in terms of the essay formatting. Here are some great tips for formatting this paper:

  • You don't necessarily have to have a title. Many of these essays don't.
  • Try to stick to the word count and don't go over the upper limit. It's there for a reason.
  • Separate the paragraphs clearly by using indents, not double spaces.
  • If you use a text box, don't italicize or bold, this won't transfer.
  • Use a readable, standard font and size. Good example of this is 12-point Times New Roman.
  • Save and send it as PDF if you can use a document. This way, it can't be edited and won't get messed up.


If you've come to the point where you are working on your college essay, good for you! This next step in your life will affect your entire future, and hopefully, you'll obtain a degree that will make it better.

But to get there, you need to get accepted to the colleges you prefer. Hopefully, this guide has helped you with that. If it hasn't, don't forget – we can write it for you!