6 Keys to Writing a Unique Personal Essay

Writing a college admission essay is a daunting task. You are one of the most difficult topics to write about, especially when you have only a few words in which to convey who you are. If you keep a few tips and tricks in mind, however, you can create an eye-catching essay that will set you apart.

Step Away from the Thesaurus

Your admission essay is not a vocabulary test. There is no need to go through it and add as many fancy words as you can. Miriam Webster has already written a thesaurus so you don’t have to. Instead, use a natural and personable voice when you write.

Admission officers are interested in learning more about the genuine you. Don’t wrap your essay in a fancy tuxedo if you’re a jeans and tee-shirt kind of person.

Don’t Write a Resume

The point of a personal essay is to show college officials something deeper than your application does. You’ve already listed your volunteer work, awards and honors on your application, so repeating them in your essay is redundant and boring.

Don’t write about the photography award you won. Instead, write about what you see and how you feel when you look through the camera lens. Write about something the admission staff has no other way of knowing about you. Give them information they won’t find elsewhere.

Be Creative, Not Gimmicky

It’s a good idea to be creative and find a way to stand out from the crowd, but know the difference between a creative approach and a gimmick. If, for example, you enjoy origami as a hobby and choose to write about it, creativity says you can enclose an origami bird with your essay.

Filling your essay envelope with glitter, however, is both tacky and messy. Admission officers will likely smile at your paper bird but curse your name if they have to clean up a glitter bomb.

Tell Your Truth

All day long, admission officers read forced essays and fictional pieces filled with the things applicants think they want to hear. This approach is common, mundane and obvious. One of the best ways to impress on your college essay is by having the courage to write about yourself honestly and openly.

Essays about mission trips and scouting awards are a dime a dozen. Make yours about something uniquely you. An essay about a mistake that taught you a lesson is far braver and more interesting than trying to paint yourself as the poster child for innocence and goodness.

Use Your Resources

While the content of your essay should come from you, you can still get help crafting it. One of the metrics high schools use to rate their success is the number of students who go on to college. That means your school wants you to pursue higher education and will make college prep resources available to you. Use them to make your life and your essay a little easier.


Proofread your essay carefully and when you’re done, do it again. Ask parents, school counselors and teachers to proofread as well. Show your essay to everyone from your mailman to the family dog, and then use the feedback they gave you.

By the time an admission officer gets your essay, it should be polished and error-free. Spell check is a beautiful thing, but it’s far from flawless. Make sure the first human eyes that see your paper aren’t those of the admission officer.

These six tips will help you write the best personal essay you can. Try to think of your essay as a fun exercise in introspection rather than a looming juggernaut that keeps you awake nights. So long as you’re honest and remember to keep the “personal” in personal essay you’re finished product will turn out great.

Anica Oaks is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here



One Comment on “6 Keys to Writing a Unique Personal Essay

  1. This is a useful and excellent share. Will definitely share it with people I know. A personal essay is writing that shares an interesting, thought-provoking, sometimes entertaining, and humorous piece that is often drawn from the writer’s personal experience and at times drawn from the current affairs of the world.

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