Last Update: April 19, 2021

Using Essay Examples to Improve Your Personal College Essay

Students often think that they have little help writing their college admission essays because the sample essays and essay examples offered by books and websites don’t seem to assist applicants in developing original, personal stories. However, with proper planning, students can use examples to greatly improve their own essays.

Here are a few essay tips:

  1.  Don’t start reading sample essays yet! First, brainstorm about the personal qualities that you want to emphasize to admission officials. Think of your best characteristics, those that make you stand out from the droves of other applicants. These should be deep personal traits, not generalities like “I am nice” or “I play sports.” Next, move on to brainstorming about past personal experiences, and pick one that both showcases your qualities and fits the essay prompt. The best experiences are those in which you learned a lesson or faced a deep personal challenge and prevailed.
  2. Now you should peruse through a few sample essays. Don’t let these examples change the story that you picked! Simply use them to get a feel for proper organization; also, take note of how the authors cast themselves, not too flamboyantly (“I am the most qualified applicant you will ever see”) and not too modestly (“I’ll probably don’t deserve to get into this school”).
  3.  You’re finally ready to write a rough draft of your essay. Make sure to write entirely in your own voice; don’t go out of your way to write like you think admission officers will want you to write. Your essay should be fluid, interesting, and easy to read. SAT and ACT scores will show admission officers how well you can write academic papers. The application essay is a chance for you to catch their attention with your story.
  4.  Revise this essay multiple times and then compare it to more sample works, taking note of organization and how you portray yourself. Learn from these examples, but do not just copy their style or format.
  5.  Now you’re in the home stretch. At this point, you should stop and reevaluate the personal characteristics featured in your essay. Do you want to add anything else to the piece? Does it showcase your best, most unique qualities? Set the essay aside, and brainstorm about your personal characteristics again. Are the things that you brainstormed featured in your essay? If not, make necessary changes.
  6.  Revise the essay several more times (set aside a month or more to do this), enlisting the help of English teachers and counselors. Finally, submit your application.

By following the steps listed above, you can effectively use sample college admission essays to improve your own work.

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