One of the most stressful aspects of the college application process is the essay. Most students worry about what an admissions officer looks for in a writing sample. But that’s the wrong way to approach this vital component, says former college admissions officer Harry Bauld. At Brown and Columbia, he saw what prospective students often did wrong—and now tells you how to do it right.

On Writing the College Application Essay is his inside guide to writing a college application essay that will stand out from the pack. Baum advises you on how to avoid platitudes and find your authentic voice, gives you tools and ideas that will spark your imagination, and shows you how to approach themes with originality and panache to make even the most tired topics—the ones most students should stay away from—fresh, such as:

  • The trip (“I had to adjust to a whole new way of life.”)
  • My favorite things (puppy dogs, freedom, and chocolate chip cookies)
  • The pageant contestant (“I think World Peace is the most important issue facing us today.”)
  • The jock (“Through wrestling I have learned to set goals and to work with people.”)
  • The autobiography (“Hello, my name is . . . ”)
  • Tales of my success (“But, finally, when I crossed the finish line . . . ”)
  • Pet death (“As I watched Buttons’s life ebb away, I came to value . . . ”)

Getting into the college of your dreams is tough. The competition is fierce. For more than twenty-five years, On Writing the College Application Essay has helped thousands of students improve their chances. Now, let it work for you.

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Liwam Nerayo

    For all writers who want to improve their writing I don’t normally write reviews for books, but this book is so good at its purpose–to help people become better writers. Before vague, my writing is now leagues clearer. I did not think my writing would improve very much, yet this book has pointed out serious issues I suffer with my writing. Writing for AP classes in high school relies on assertions and facts to support it. However, when writing about oneself in the personal statement or any other point in one’s life, this book offers a…

  2. Edward Usherwood

    Excellent overview from reviewer’s perspective

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