Most college applications require an essay, which can intimitate and discourage some, but that's good news for go-getters like you! Following a few best practices will help you write a college application essay like a boss (and maybe even earn a scholarship and save a lot of money).

University of Advancing Technology Assistant Registrar Emma Cahill's first piece of advice: "Brag about yourself!" UAT faculty and staff want to know what you're proud of and what gets you excited, but we can't get to know you if you keep all of your accomplishments to yourself. Did you build a computer when you were 9? Did you start a STEM club at your school? Did you maintain a 4.0 GPA while holding down a part-time job and playing two sports? Did you win a robotics competition?


Cahill, who has reviewed hundreds of college applications, emphasized the importance of being personal. We look for students who not only exceed academically but are also well-rounded. "Keep in mind that you are competing with others, which is why you need to make your application memorable," she said. Did you overcome hardship? Did you help raise your siblings or pay bills? Did other students bully you? Was math class really hard for you? How did you respond to those challenging situations?


Proofreading is imperative. Essays filled with grammatical mistakes make it look like you do not care. Students should always check a second and third time for spelling and punctuation errors. Ask a parent, friend or teacher to proofread. Another set of eyes always helps!


Challenge yourself to go beyond good grammar. Avoid filler words like "very" and empty words like "interesting." Replace passive voice (i.e. is, am, was, were) with action verbs. For example, "That class was my favorite" becomes "That class taught me to embrace the uncomfortable feeling of peers picking apart my writing. It made me a better writer."


Cahill also recommends making a plan and sticking to it. “It is almost guaranteed that an essay written in two hours will not contain all of the information that an applicant wants to include," she said.


Planning and proofreading are helpful tools, but if students really want to impress the review committee, they need to showcase their passion and personality. At UAT, the review committee considers may factors when evaluating applications, but your "why"—demonstrated in your essay—matters more than your GPA or test scores.


Apply today and wow us with your essay-writing skills!

Allie Holcombe

Written by Allie Holcombe