What makes a college essay/story interesting and compelling?

Taking the reader into the scene, describing the moment, details, specificity, showing your knowledge of something that they do not know about.

Before you become stifled by the prompts begin by using this exercise and see which experiences allow you to show your insights, your uniqueness.

Start by writing three to seven sentences, each about a different experience that is meaningful to you; subjects that show your uniqueness, details about one of your activities or experiences, or a topic which shows your view of the world. It will take time to think of these different scenarios which might be a great essay, so don’t be afraid to spend a little time each day to consider and draft your options. Remember to grab the reader’s attention with the sentence so that they want to read more. The key is to take the reader into the scene, the moments, and the ambiance. Show your audience something about your character and how, using these attributes, you will contribute to the college’s campus when you are there. Ponder it daily until your list is finished.

Here are some possible subjects, but don’t feel limited by them:

What achievement are you most proud of?

What makes your family or you different from other families?

Is there something you are passionate about?

Do you do anything better than almost anyone else?

What is the most exciting thing that you have ever done?

What have you contemplated that might be interesting?

What do you think you will be doing ten years from now?

If you could do over one thing in your life what would it be?

If a college had to choose between you and another students why should they pick you?


To write a really good college essay takes time, vision and revision, thought and introspection.

Before you start watch these videos, and read the below essays, and tips, to get a little more guidance.

Tufts Admissions Common Application Essay

Also look at Johns Hopkins Essays That Worked to get an idea of the detail to go into.

In case you want more tips:

Best Essays Hint at Who You Are

Once you have written your seven sentences rank them in terms of which you think will transform into the most interesting essay. Make an appointment with me and we can go over your visions to decide on a topic. If you feel comfortable without a meeting, just send me the beginning sentence and an outline of your thoughts before you move forward. This will help to make sure you are picking a strong topic and approaching it correctly. It should save you time in the long run.

Here are some examples of sentences that past students wrote to start their essay:

“Thousands of languages are spoken on Earth, yet they all have one thing in common: they explain the richness of human life. Different cultures use their languages in a multitude of ways to provide their views of the world, yet certain words and phrases of these languages cannot be found in other languages. The usage of languages in diverse cultures can vary from the need to concisely and practically communicate, to lyrically and elegantly expressing the human experience and what it means to be human.”

“My parents named me Imani, which is Swahili for Faith. They’ve instilled in me that through faith, I can triumph over any barrier that comes in my way. I have embraced that philosophy, and have always vowed to strive, and desired to accomplish goals and obstacles that I am faced with.”

“Some people are fortunate to find something that they are inexplicably passionate about, and for me, that’s Pushing Daisies. It was a black swan event, something so random yet so impactful I can’t help but believe I must have somehow seen it coming. Pushing Daisies is a quirky, colorful television show about a man who has the power to bring the dead back to life with a touch.”

“One of my favorite classes in high school is AP Comparative Government and Politics. This is a classic, Political Science 101 type of class where we sit down and talk about the nitty-gritty of political science. I’m learning about rule of law, regime legitimacy, and how different forms of government work. Like a good American student, I have been raised on the noble ideas of the Founding Fathers and taught about the political brilliance they possessed, but I understand the American political system better when I compare it to other governments.”

When you are done, let’s meet and brainstorm so that your essay enhances your application.