Get Help Writing Your College Essay at the Library

Are you a college-bound senior? Finding the college application process overwhelming? Having trouble figuring out what to write about for your admissions essays? Deadlines looming? Let KCLS help!

After conducting college essay writing workshops and editing admissions essays, there are a few tips I can offer and some great resources available through the library to help get you through the admissions process.

Besides "start early," here are things to remember when writing your essay:

  1. Get personal and be authentic. Don't try to be someone you are not. Admissions officers want to get to know the real you so use your essay to show what makes you unique. 
  2. Choose a topic that matters to you and will allow you to highlight your strengths. An easy way to do this is to start by choosing one word that best describes you. Next, identify at least three of your strongest attributes and at least two significant events or experiences that have helped define who you are.  Finally, pick a topic that allows you to show your best qualities and tell your story.
  3. Be original.  You are a unique person so make your essay unique and different.
  4. Show don't tell and remember: details, details, details! You want to bring the reader into your experience by using specific examples and details that show your reader what you were doing, thinking and feeling instead of just stating facts.
  5. Proofread. This doesn't mean just using Spell Check. Have a teacher or parent proofread to catch any mistakes you may have missed.

For more help with the college admissions process visit Life After High School on the KCLS website and check out some of these resources.

One-hour College Application Essay

If you are having trouble getting focused and don't know where to begin, this book is for you! This compact Help in a Hurry series book gives you all the essentials for writing an effective essay, including worksheets to help draft your essay quickly. You may not get it done in one hour, but you will avoid getting bogged down in writer's block.

College Essay Essentials

Author Ethan Sawyer, a.k.a. College Essay Guy, takes a unique approach and super simplifies the essay writing process. He shows you there are really only four types of college admissions essays and all you need to do to figure out which type is best for you is to answer two questions:

  1. Have you experienced significant challenges in your life?
  2. Do you know what you want to do in the future?

After answering these questions, he guides you through the rest of the process and provides plenty of tips, tricks, and exercises to help along the way.

On Writing the College Application Essay

Author Harry Bauld, formerly an admissions officer at Brown University and assistant director of admissions at Columbia University, gives students an insider's guide to writing a college application essay that is sure to stand out.

College Essays That Made A Difference

Need a little inspiration? Check out over 100 successful essays written by students applying to the nation's top schools. Reading some of these essays may prove more helpful than all the "how to" books.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of King County Library System