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The founder of EssayLady has a unique perspective from having reading more 1000 college application essays in just one admission season alone as an academic advisor in the University of Florida’s Honors Program. These were application essays from students in the top 10% of their classes; several were National Merit finalists, obviously very intelligent and talented. However, the majority of the application essays sounded like every other essay in the stack. She read the carefully typed sheets, hunting for a spark of life to help her to know that particular student in a meaningful way. Most of the time, she finished reading the essays feeling disappointed and thinking that students don’t know how to write a college application essay.

“I don’t understand,” she thought. “These are smart kids. Why can’t they write?” In her opinion, they needed to learn how to write a college application essay.

Now don’t get this wrong- the application essays were technically sound. They would’ve garnered an “A” from your typical high school English teacher. But remember, admissions officers are not English teachers.

In The Daily Beast article “Dirty Secrets of College Admissions” ( one former admissions officer of an elite Northeast liberal arts college admitted, “One year I had a student with a near-perfect SAT score and straight A’s. I’d originally put him in the submitted pile, but then we had to reduce the list. I reread his essays and frankly, they were just a little more boring than the other kids. So I cut him. Boring was the only justification that I needed and he was out.”

Boring can mean the difference between an acceptance letter and a rejection letter. For scholarship essays, it can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in prize winnings versus thousands of dollars in loans and debt.

On the other hand, compelling can get you into your top-choice school, whether Ivy League or community college. The most important tip, therefore, is to learn how to write a college application essay so that you write what you’d want to read if you had to read over a thousand college application essays. Tell a specific story from your life, include sensory details, and give the admission officer a glimpse into you and your life- be quirky, messy, funny, vulnerable. Write what only you can write.

The second most important tip is to have someone else read your college application essay before submitting it. A trusted friend, teacher, parent… or the EssayLady!  With the EssayLady, you work with ONE editor/essay coach (me!) from start to finish for an easy, seamless process and a convenient way to learn how to write a college application essay.

How to Write a College Application Essay