The Importance of Reading Other College Application Essays


A common issue that college counsellors have to deal with is the dreaded college application essay. Regardless of how hard you have worked at school, what your GPA is and which extra-curricular activities you have partaken in, you will need a strong college application essay to help secure your place at your dream institution, or get you into a few reserve institutions if your final grades don’t quite meet the required standard. This article was inspired by a blog post we recently saw by regular i-studentglobal contributor Sharon Epstein, titled College Essay Help: How To Start Writing Your College Essay.

A simple answer to the question “Where do I start?” is that the best place to start is to look at examples of other applications, successful and unsuccessful, so that you can see what to do and what not to do in your college application essay. We will now explain why looking at other essays is not cheating and what you can take away from seeing other application essays.

What To Learn From Other College Application Essays


First and foremost, nobody else can tell your story but you. Your friends and family could tell an incomplete version of your story, from their perspective, but when college admissions departments are looking over essays, they want to feel like they are getting to know you from you, not from what other people have told you about yourself. Looking at other college application essays may not tell you anything new about your own experiences, but you might see a good structure that you could apply to your essay, which could help you get off the ground with it.




You wouldn’t go into an exam without having taken some kind of practice paper, example questions or a full mock exam, so why should a college application be any different? If applying through a common application (commonly done in the US) you will write one essay which will be seen by all of the institutions that you apply to. However, if you are applying to multiple colleges through a different method (for example if you were applying to a number of different institutions overseas), you should make sure that your essay is targeted to each institution and not generic and used identically for all. This will put you in good practice for altering your CV and covering letter that you use to apply for specific jobs later in life. A college counsellor at your school will be able to help you with this process as they will no doubt have a wealth of experience in college admissions and will know what will work and what won’t.   

READ: Getting The Most From Your College Counsellor