Project Opportunity: Access to Washington's Colleges'

“When I hear someone say ‘it's fine’ or ‘it's just a college,’ I think they must be going to the wrong university.”

— Darren Plummer
Gonzaga University


Application Components: Essays

Your application essay is not only a chance to show the college how clearly you can communicate and how lucidly you can think, it's also your chance to tell the college something about yourself. Don't shrug off this part of the application; it's one of your best opportunities to show a college who you are and what makes you special.

Here are a few tips for producing a good essay:

  • Draw up an outline for your essay showing how you're going to organize each paragraph.
  • Focus on your strengths, especially in character. Talk about the personality traits that make you a good candidate for college and provide examples from your life.
  • Write multiple drafts. Take a little while between rewriting each draft so you can approach the essay with a fresh eye each time.
  • Edit your essay very carefully. It should be free of any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes.
  • Have a teacher, a counselor, a parent, or another student read your essay. They might have valuable insight into how to make your essay better.
  • Make your essay fun to read. Admissions officers have to read a lot of essays. If you can write one that's fun to read it will only reflect better on you. This doesn't mean you should be irreverent, it means you don't have to be excessively formal in your writing.
  • Do a little research. Your counselor might have good sample entrance essays you can look at. You can also search the internet for tips. The College Board has a good set of tips for essay writing. Talk to the admissions office at the college and find out what they are looking for in an essay.
Funded in part by a grant from
the Ben B. Cheney Foundation
published by Independent Colleges of Washington