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The College Essay
Brad Schiller
Brad Schiller

Welcome! You’re now on the optimum path for writing your best college essays in the least amount of time. Bookmark this page: it’s your step-by-step college essay guide.

We cover everything — every college essay topic you can imagine — and it’s all free. 

There is a catch, though. 

We’ve got so much here that it’ll take over 6 hours to read it all.

So it’s up to you. You can read it all. You can skim most of it. Or you can also try taking the shortcut: working one-on-one with a Prompt essay coach to get you on the right track quickly.

Step 1: Understand your audience.;Step 2: Plan your content;Step 3: Complete the “big stuff”;Step 4: Complete your applications college by college;Other Great College Essay Resources
Step 1: Understand your audience.;Step 2: Plan your content;Step 3: Complete the “big stuff”;Step 4: Complete your applications college by college;Other Great College Essay Resources

    The Best Essay Process

    If you’re a parent, start here.

    Step 1: Understand your audience

    For many students, the college essay is the first time they must consider their audience while writing.

    Up till now, you’ve been writing for an audience of one: your teacher. And nothing too exciting was really at stake -- one grade, within a semester’s worth of grades.

    College essays aren’t like that. There’s a lot at stake (admission). And you’re writing for a specific audience — college admissions officers — who’re looking for specific things while they speed-read your essays. 

    If you don’t know what they’re looking for, you’re unlikely to give it to them. Learn what college admissions officers are looking for in college essays.

    Step 2: Plan your content

    Some students may get overwhelmed sorting through the ideas they could write about.

    Most students face the agony of the blank page for Every. Single. Essay. They. Write. (And there are a lot of application essays.)

    Some students improve on that by brainstorming good essay ideas before they get started. students brainstorm, too — just more so. 

    We’ve developed a systematic approach to coming up with all the great essay ideas colleges will love reading, before you write a single essay.

    Read our detailed guide on The Best and Fastest Way to Create College Essay Ideas.

    Step 3: Complete the “big stuff”

    In many cases, the Common App Essay is the largest undertaking of the process.
    First, write your personal statement(s).

    Not only will you feel soothing relief when the biggest, most important college essay is done, starting “big” also helps you sort through all those great experiences you brainstormed in Step 2 — What’s left over for the other essays? Which experiences are really your most impressive ones? You’ll end with a sense of what each application will contain. 

    For most students, this will be the Common App Essay. For others, it’ll be ApplyTexas, the Coalition App Essay, or UCAS personal statement. Then, write your activities list. This is a great way to refine what you’ve done and see what content remains that you need to write about in your supplements and additional information section.

    Then, if you’re applying to a University of California School, write the University of California Personal Insight Questions (UC PIQs).

    The UC PIQs are four short essays. What’s great about doing them early is that the content for these essays translates well into other school supplemental essays. Therefore, we’ve found you save time and get better results if you do the PIQs before working on other applications.

    Step 4: Complete your applications college by college

    At this point, your college list will determine how many essays you have left to write.

    Step 5: Write your essays for your top choice college.

    Here you’ll complete all written components (essays, activities list, additional information) for your top choice. Working college by college is a great way to ensure you include all of your most compelling content in each application.

    Step 6: Complete your applications for your early applications.

    Prioritize your essays by when your applications are due! Learn the difference between early decision vs. early action here.

    Step 7: Complete your remaining applications in order of “most excited to attend” to “least excited to attend.”

    Essays are a lot of work. As such, doing the essays that matter to you the most first will ensure you give these essays the proper attention.

    Other Great College Essay Resources

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