Writing a great college essay


I’ve read many college essays over the years and the vast majority of them have been b-o-r-i-n-g.

Unlike a great college essay, the bad essays have been guilty of one or more of these essay no-no’s:

1. The college essay lacked details.

2. The admission essay didn’t convey the student’s voice.

3. The essay covered too much territory. (Writing about something that lasted seconds, crumpled paper 1minutes or a day in a teen’s life is much better than trying to jam a student’s entire life into a 500-word essay!)

4. The college essay read like the dull expository essays that high school English teachers force students to write. Formal English papers are deadly and relying on English teachers, who may be poor writers themselves, is often asking for trouble.

A tip for writing a great college essay

Today I want to share one of my favorite tips for writing the best college essay possible:

Don’t bore the admission readers with a dull opening line in your college essay!

During admission season, admission reps often have to read dozens of college essays a day. It’s inevitable that the essays will blur together, which is an excellent reason why applicants need to make their college essay stand out.

Applicants will win brownie points if they start their essays with an opening sentence that grabs the reader’s attention.

Need examples of college essay opening lines?

If so, you should read an old article in the Stanford Magazine that includes opening college essay lines that the university’s admission reps particularly liked.

Opening Lines from Stanford University Admission Essays

Here are some of the Stanford admission officers’ favorite college essay opening lines from the school’s graduating 2012 class:

  • I have old hands.
  • 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’ve been surfing Lake Michigan since I was 3 years old.
  • On a hot Hollywood evening, I sat on a bike, sweltering in a winter coat and furry boots.
  • As an Indian-American, I am forever bound to the hyphen.
  • Unlike many mathematicians, I live in an irrational world; I feel that my life is defined by a certain amount of irrationalities that bloom too frequently, such as my brief foray in front of 400 people without my pants.
  • I change my name each time I place an order at Starbucks.
  • When I was in eighth grade I couldn’t read.
  • Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a slum dwelling in Bangalore, I ran my fingers across a fresh cut on my forehead.
  • Some fathers might disapprove of their children handling noxious chemicals in the garage.

Don’t make costly college admission mistakes…

If you’d like to dive much deeper into how to make the smartest college decisions, including how to significantly cut the cost of a bachelor’s degree, enroll today in my popular online course – The College Cost Lab.

If you have questions about the class, just email me at lynn@thecollegesolution.com.

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