Recipe for a Winning College Essay

College admission staff considers different criteria to decide who they will admit. They receive thousands of applicants every year, with top colleges receiving over 50 thousands applications on average. The numerical criteria such SAT, ACT and GPA play important roles in filtering out the applicants in the first phase, but these are not enough to help you land in a top college. Your College Essay is the most important factor, and here is why.

Once applications are filtered out in the first phase, all applicants have the same chances of getting selected or rejected. Your college essay is something that can help you secure admission in a top college at this state. Moreover, more colleges are adopting test blind policies, which means, the college essay is more important than ever. But how to write a compelling college essay is the most important question.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions staff and help them mark you as a perfect candidate. Remember they have to scrutinize thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that prestigious campus.

A well-written, structured and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you, what are your qualities are and what you believe—can help you stand out from those forgettable ones. You can find tons of informative blogs on how to write a perfect college essay, but none gives a unique recipe to stand. In this article, I am going to give you the exact recipe for a winning college essay.

Characteristics of a Good College Essay

Before going into the details of the topic, keep in mind that your college essay should have following characteristics

  • Be Authentic
  • Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.
  • Focus on Deeper Themes
  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Write Several Drafts
  • Don’t Repeat
  • Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Give Colleges what they want

Now, let’s dig deeper into what admission staff really needs. Most of the colleges have mentioned their requirements in their online application form or on their admission portal for example Leadership skills, communication skills, community participation etc… read it carefully and try to reflect your qualities and experience in these areas in your essay.

Most of the students prepare one college essay and forward it to all the colleges but the requirements of different colleges differ. You need to tune your essay according to the demands of each college separately. The moment admission committees find what they are looking for, it just clicks and they will mark your application as a standard fit.

Don’t underestimate the power of leadership and communication skills even if you are applying to a STEM degree. Mention as many details showcasing your leadership skills as you can in the first attempt and then after reading it several times you can exclude the repetitive examples.

Show them you have the right Aptitude for the Subject

The most important factor in getting selected is whether your aptitude is aligned with your chosen subjects. Most of the counselors and students miss this point. You might a right fit for the biology but not for Anthropology. So, first of all assess your aptitude, qualities, weaknesses and your behavior. Talk to a career counselor or appear in an aptitude online or in person. Showcase the aptitude assessment report and attach it with your application.

More importantly, mention all your qualities, strengths and values that are important in your area of interest. Mention the technologies you are familiar with or had experience with that are used in that career. In this way, you will be in a better position to show admission staff that you are best fit for your area of interest. If your essay showcases your strengths in the area of social science and you are applying to a computer sciences degree, no one at the admission committee will recommend you for admission even though your grades are excellent. At least I will never recommend such a candidate. Hence the rule of thumb in a winning college essay is to convince the admission staff that you have all the qualities, traits and strengths to make a good career in your area of interest.


I am a Career Counselor and Admissions Counselor having 20 years of experience in the field. I have developed some awesome website for education in USA, and Pakistan. I have helped around 300k students plan admission in top Universities of the world personally and millions through my websites.