Tips for Writing a Strong College Essay

Image of College LAUNCH Scholar Writing During a Saturday Summit

Tips for Writing a Strong College Essay:

While many high school students focus on their GPA and ACT/SAT score in order to make them a competitive applicant to colleges and universities, essays are an essential part of the application process that provide a qualitative aspect to your application. Your application essays serve many purposes:

  • essays allow admissions officials to gain a better sense of who you are
  • essays provide a glimpse into how you would contribute to the campus community
  • essays give an indication of whether or not you are a good fit for the university and if the university would be a good fit for you.  

This is why it is important to take time and craft a well-written essay! 

Below are a few essay writing tips that Mr. Thomas Ray (Wake Forest University Assistant Dean of Admissions) and Dr. Meleah Ellison (College LAUNCH for Leadership Program Manager) shared with LAUNCH Scholars during the October 2020 Saturday Summits:


Before you even pick up your pen or open a word document to begin writing, take a few moments to:

  • Review the prompt/prompts (if there are multiple prompt options, select the one that resonates the most with you).
  • Reread the essay instructions. Is there a word limit? Do you only have to write one prompt, or have you been asked to answer several? Be sure to note everything that the prompt is asking you to address.
  • Jot down a few topic ideas, select the one that provides you with the best opportunity to speak to who you are and your strengths, and begin writing!


You’ve completed your essay and are ready to submit it, BUT before you do, reread your work and consider a few things:

  • Does your writing address and align with the entire prompt?
  • Did you write in a way that highlights your strengths as an applicant?
  • Does the piece reflect the thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and energy that you put into it, or does it feel rushed and lack heart?
  • Did you focus only on personal challenges instead of personal growth and resilience?
  • Finally, does your essay communicate an authentic and unique perspective?

Once you’ve reviewed the content of your essay, it’s time to print out a copy and grab a red pen. This time, you’ll review your essay for:

  • Grammatical errors
  • Misspellings
  • Run-on sentences
  • Hard to read sentences

Pro Tip: Read your essay out loud. This will help you catch hard to read sentences that you might otherwise miss while reading it to yourself.


Finally, ask a trusted friend, family member, teacher, or advisor to review your work.  They can offer valuable advice and insight.

Are you a College LAUNCH Alumni? If so, feel free to send your essay to Dr. Ellison for feedback!

Start early, take your time writing your college essays, and utilize these tips to help make the process easier!