5 Tips for a Stand-out College Essay

Summer is the perfect time to get going on your Common App, UC or Apply Texas essay. #getitoverwith. Waiting until school starts in the fall just adds pressure to an already super stressful and busy season of your high school life.

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 But essays that truly impress admissions officers are a lot more than just a sweet story with all the "i's" dotted and "t's" crossed. In fact, college essay readers who have hundreds of files to review wait desperately for those who offer up unique topics and an authentic voice. Here are some key tips to telling your best story:

1. Say something they don't already know.  

Your academic life, awards and extracurriculars are already part of your application. Write about something that isn't included in the rest of your dossier.

2. Write about a topic that reflects your values or gives insight into who you are as a person.

Don't be afraid to get deep, personal and reflective. You aren't a flat character in a B- movie! Find a topic that tells admissions officer what you believe, how you feel and who you are deep down. Troll your past for experiences that demonstrate your values and authentic self.

3. Warts are okay; nobody is perfect.

Don't use your essay to toot your horn or present yourself in perfect light. #soannoying. Instead, consider a topic that shows how you've grown, matured, discovered, learned, overcome, or even failed. 

4. Find a silver lining.

Even a topic about a tough period in your life should offer hope or demonstrate your growth and resilience. Look for ways challenges have made you a better person or opened up new doors.

5. If you're funny, be funny.

Some of my favorite essays use a good bit of humor and wit to tell a personal story. If your MO is being the wise-guy/gal, let your light shine in your college essay too. Just be sure your topic reveals something more than just your knack for making people laugh.