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College Essay

Today, colleges and universities are recruiting students who are more academically prepared for the expectations awaiting them in higher education than ever before. In order to select the best possible candidates for admission, college admission counselors are not only carefully evaluating a student's academic history and standardized test scores, but also the student's ability to successfully put their ideas into writing. The skills demonstrated through the college admission essay are a valid indication of a student's academic strength.

What is the purpose of the college admission essay?

The college admission essay accomplishes three goals: it

1. conveys a sense of the student's unique character
2. demonstrates the student's writing skills
3. demonstrates the student's ability to organize thoughts coherently

What is the basic structure of an essay?

All essays regardless of their intended purpose have three basic components: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Let's consider each component separately and in detail so you know how to construct it.


A good introduction should include (1.) an attention-getter, such as a startling fact, an anecdote, or lines of dialog, (2.) your thesis statement indicating the intention of your essay, and (3.) a brief preview of the supporting ideas that will develop your main point.


The body of an essay usually consists of three to five paragraphs (one paragraph for each supporting idea). Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which states the main point of that paragraph. The following sentences need to support your main point.


The conclusion summarizes the entire essay and features a brief restatement of your thesis (intention of the essay) and main supporting ideas.

Types of Admission Essays

There are two types of admission essays: specific and general

SPECIFIC ADMISSION ESSAYS provide a topic about which to write.

GENERAL ADMISSION ESSAYS gives the writer/student the opportunity to select a topic about which to write.

Just in case you are applying to colleges/universities that feature a general admission essay as a part of their application process, here are a few sample essay topics that may inspire you. This list is by no means exhaustive!

Why did you choose to apply to Slippery Rock University, etc.?
Describe your most rewarding experience.
What are your career aspirations?
Who is the most influential person in your life? Why?
Describe a successful student.
What a college education means to me.


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