Tips for Writing College Admissions Essays

Picking a college is a rite of passage for prospective students. There is excitement, anticipation, concern, and great expectations. Whether it is close to home, in a different state, with friends, or independently – students look at what colleges have to offer them, their interests, and their future goals. No matter the college chosen, all students have a common challenge they have to conquer – the college admissions essay.


Why is an Admissions Essay so important?

One of the most important, and most dreaded, aspects of a college application is the admissions essay. This essay needs to be well written, personal, memorable, concise, and expressive. That is a great deal of pressure to put on one essay.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) publication, The State of the College Admission 2003-2004, states that a “tipping” factor for college admissions boards to grant acceptance was the application essay or writing sample. More than half of the NACAC surveyed universities stated that the admission essay was “considerably to moderately important” in the ultimate decision to accept a student to their school. Additionally, the NACAC found that universities reported, between 1993-2003, a 64% increase in the “considerable importance” of the application essay. Because of its ability to give a student an advantage over their competition, the admissions essay is a crucial part of the college application package.

The NACAC states that in 1999 more that 70% of colleges and universities reported an increase in applications, from the previous year. With just over 60% of high school students enrolling in post-secondary education and the NACAC’s Counseling Trends Survey findings that 72% of high school students submitted between four and nine college applications in 2003 – it is no surprise that high school students are interested in how to write “the perfect” admissions essay.

Tips for Writing a College Admission Essay

There are numerous resources online and in print that detail how to write a striking and effective admissions essay. The following are the top five tips to help improve your essay, as well as the top five pitfalls:


Helpful Tips

Dangerous Pitfalls

1. Follow the directions, explicitly! 1. Too much information
2. Show genuine enthusiasm, passion 2. Bragging or showing off
3. Write in your own voice, be yourself 3. Criticizing others
4. Use active, rather than passive, voice 4. Complicated and wordy prose
5. Proofread, again and again 5. Informal tone, like a “text message”


About Florida National University


Florida National University, founded in 1988, is located in the South Florida/ Miami area. Boasting three physical campuses in Miami-Dade County, as well as a robust distance/online “campus,” FNU has extensive offerings for students. With additional accreditation, earned March 24th, 2012, FNU now offers one Master program, seven Baccalaureate programs, twenty-two Associate programs, nine Diploma programs, and nine certificate programs. Of these programs, nineteen are available as entirely “online” programs of study. The online platform makes FNU not just a Florida university, but allows students anywhere in the world to attend FNU and earn a degree, diploma, or certificate. If you are looking for an online program or a South Florida University, consider the many opportunities that FNU can provide.


For more information regarding Florida National University, please call 305-821-3333 ext. 3 or visit




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Hawkins, D.A. (2004). State of college admission report 2003-2004. Alexandria, VA:

National Association for College Admission Counseling.


Damast, A. (2008). 5 ways to ruin an application essay. [Web Blog post]. Retrieved from