Many of the articles on this website are for parents of students ages 12–26. This article—on how to create a top college application essay—is aimed specifically at high school students. Parents are encouraged to listen in to this advice as well.
Writing a top college application essay can be easy and fast when you follow these steps.
These steps are designed to help you get a top college application essay done confidently, and fast—with as little hassle as possible.
1. Try to complete your college application essay in April of 11th grade if possible.
Or as soon as possible after that.
I’ll explain why below.
2. Start by creating one fantastic scholarship application essay using the instructions here.
Do this, and you’ll end up with one application essay that can be used over and over again—for many years—for many different purposes.
You’ll be able to use this essay to apply for over 80 scholarships—with very little time investment.
Reusing this essay as your college application essay is a genius strategy.
(You’ll find my 3-hour video class on how to create this multipurpose essay here.)
3. End your college application essay by saying that you want to develop your greatest talents further while you’re in college.
You do, don’t you? That’s why you’re going.
This sentence helps you to complete the argument that you’re highly focused and capable in key areas right now—but want college to help you grow even further.
4. When you’re asked to choose a college application essay topic on the common app, make your multipurpose essay fit by doing this:
Pick the essay prompt, “Write on a topic of your choice.”
Your vivid opening story, clear goal statement, and beautifully structured “reasons why” I teach you to weave together here will make for compelling reading in this spot.
You’ll love the moment in this video class where I announce that we’re taking the old “introduction-body-conclusion” essay structure and throwing it out the window. Why? Because that’s an informative essay structure that doesn’t provide the high-octane persuasive power you need to create a compelling, persuasive essay like the one I’m describing.
Yes, you could write an essay without taking a 3-hour video class on how to do it effectively—but do you really want to sit for 6 hours making revision after revision, and at the end not know whether you’ve really nailed it or not?
5. Show your finished college application essay to a favorite teacher for feedback and revision well before the end of 11th grade.
Do not wait until the last week of school when this teacher is swamped. You won’t get the same quality help you’ll get if you ask earlier.
6. Feel powerful, in control, “ahead of the game,” and ready to complete all college applications during the summer after 11th grade.
Try to complete all college applications during the summer before your senior year of high school. You’ll enjoy many advantages if you do this—as I explain in detail in Chapter 18 of my book.
You’ll also feel great relief at being able to fully enjoy your senior year of high school without the added pressure that comes with scrambling to complete college applications during that very busy time.
7. Do this and you very likely won’t need an expensive college consultant to give you an edge.
You can see my article on when college consultants are and are not helpful here.
Find a full description of my 3-hour video class on essay writing here.
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Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
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What about you? What are your best ideas for writing top-notch college application essays?
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26 and their parents and grandparents. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.