No. 1 Tip for Writing a Great Admission Essay

Hey, how about starting your college admission essay today?

Are any parents out there already bugging their soon-to-be high school seniors to start writing their college admission essay? I realize this is going to be a hard sell with teenagers, but summer is the perfect time to write the admission essay.

So here’s my No. 1 tip for writing a great college application essay: Be creative.

Whenever I’ve read examples of great application essays, the opening paragraphs have been wonderful reads.

Here, for example, are some creative opening sentences from college admission essays that helped get lucky applicants into Stanford:

  • While traveling through the daily path of life, have you ever stumbled upon a hidden pocket of the universe?
  • The spaghetti burbled and slushed around the pan, and as I stirred it, the noises it gave off began to sound increasingly like bodily functions.
  • I was paralyzed from the waist down. I would try to move my leg or even shift an ankle but I never got a response. This was the first time thoughts of death ever crossed my mind.
  • I change my name each time I place an order at Starbucks.
  • On a hot Hollywood evening, I sat on a bike, sweltering in a winter coat and furry boots.

If you’d like examples of excellent admission essay examples in their entirety, Connecticut College has posted quite a few extraordinary essays.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College. She also blogs for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. I’ve read Lynn’s first book and look forward to the second one! I have a specific question –is there a way to determine which private colleges use the FAFSA method for financial aid? I would like to focus in on those schools rather than ones that use a different formula. How do I find that out?