5 Tips for Last-Minute College Essay Success

Your essay is your voice on the college application, and your best chance at standing out amongst the rest of the crowded field of applicants.

You know the feeling. The overwhelming stress of senior year has taken its toll, and you underestimated the time essay writing would take out of your busy schedule. You feel drained.  You feel defeated. You might even be on the verge of giving up.

Fear not, procrastinators!  I’ve got good news for you: it’s definitely not too late to write a well-polished college essay! Relax, take a deep breath, and consider the following five tips for last minute college application success. (You can thank me later!)

#1: Pitch to your audience

The days of submitting identical essays and information to every school on your list are over. Become well informed about the schools and programs to which you are applying.  Start by reading and understanding the mission statement and values of each school. Next, tailor your essays to your unique academic direction: your “academic angle.” For example, if you are planning on majoring in business, make sure that your essays in some way reflect your interest in the subject. Considering other majors at other schools?  Tweak and re-focus your essay each time before you click the submit button. Not every school is the same, so make sure that your essays resonate well with your specific target audiences.

#2: Focus on being an active participant in your essays

Your essay is your voice on the college application, and your best chance at standing out amongst the rest of the crowded field of applicants. The best advice I can give to you is to SHOW, don’t TELL. Be the main character of your essay. Show the admissions officers who you are and the way in which you interact with the world. Demonstrate your values and show your ability to learn from your mistakes and your drive to improve on your weaknesses. In regards to subject matter, stay away from common clichés, controversial or sensitive topics that could distract readers from learning about you. Feel free to ask for input from teachers, parents, and peers, but above all, make sure that the essay remains yours!

#3: Don’t forget to proofread

Even the smallest error or omission on your application or essay can reflect negatively on you, your character, and your values. The application is a snapshot of you and admissions officers must make broad assumptions based solely on what they read. For example, a simple typo can send the signal that you may not be detail-oriented, a fact unlikely to be overlooked by the evaluators of your application! The solution? Check and recheck, again and again! A simple way to ensure you’ve eliminated all errors is read everything aloud. This includes not only your essays, but your whole application and all supplemental information. In addition to catching errors, reading aloud will help you identify any awkward phrasings that could be improved. Trust me, it works!

#4: Stop Waiting!  

It’s November, which means that it is time to make finishing your college applications your #1 priority. Make your college apps part of your daily routine. Put it in your schedule. Delaying could also decrease the strength of your application. For example, if any of the schools on your list have a rolling admissions policy, your chances of admission decrease with every passing day. If that isn’t bad enough, consider that application systems have a history of crashing in the final hours before major deadlines. Avoid the risk of missing hard deadlines by submitting your applications at least a few days before they are due.

#5: Most importantly: Never, ever submit anything but your best work.

Absolutely, positively, do not give up. Never settle. You got this!


Karl Lenss is the managing director of Academic Angle. He can be reached at karl@academicangle.com

Want to make your application the best it can be? We can help! the Academic Angle team has years of knowledge and experience that will help to make sure that you are making the best impression possible. Take a giant step closer to realizing your college admission dreams by contacting us today!