June 17, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.

The task of writing your college essay can appear daunting at first. You may have supplemental essay questions to write in addition to the Common App Essay.

While writing tends to be a task many students dread, the hardest part about writing an essay is putting down the first few sentences on paper.

At the College Planning Center in South Carolina, our college consultants highly encourage high school students to begin brainstorming and drafting college essays during the summer before their senior year, allowing ample time for revisions and feedback. Here are some tips to help you write a strong essay for your college applications.

Start Early

Starting your college essay early is not just a tip. It’s a crucial step in the college application process.

Don’t wait until the Common App opens on August 1st to begin. The essay prompts are already out there, so why not get a head start?

Starting early gives you ample time to brainstorm, revise, and seek feedback, all of which are essential for crafting a strong essay.

Don’t Skip the Brainstorming!

Before you dive into writing, take the time to brainstorm. This step is not to be overlooked.

It’s your opportunity to delve into your memories and experiences, and unearth potential topics. 

Remember, you’ll likely need multiple topics for supplemental essay questions, so it’s best to brainstorm first.

Our group essay workshop offers expert-led sessions that go beyond typical brainstorming exercises you might find on YouTube.

Outline Your Essay

After you finalize a topic, you must write an outline.

This can be as simple as making quick notes about what you want to include in each paragraph. 

This will help make the initiation of writing much easier.

The College Planning Center in South Carolina helps parents and high school students effectively plan their college education; this involves researching and selecting colleges that best fit a student's academic and personal preferences, leading to better alignment with their academic goals and college success.

Show, Don’t Just Tell

Use personal anecdotes in your writing. This is your chance to make your essay unique and powerful.

Paint a picture with words by describing scenes, emotions, and experiences in detail.

You’ll want to tell a moment, event, or experience as if it is actually happening instead of summarizing it.

Try to focus on the growth and reflection of the particular topic you have chosen rather than getting caught up in describing an entire experience.

Seek FeedbackEssay workshops at the College Planning Center in South Carolina cover common pitfalls to avoid, such as clichés and overused themes, helping students create original and engaging essays.

Remember not to underestimate the power of feedback. It’s a crucial part of the process that can make you feel supported and confident.

Once you’ve written your essay, it’s time to get others’ perspectives.

We provide personalized feedback, proven strategies, and a supportive environment that empowers students to write compelling, authentic essays that stand out.

With a fresh set of eyes, you’ll catch errors you might have missed and provide valuable insights.

Pay close attention to grammar, style, and word count. And always, always check that you have stayed within the word limit.

Above all, your college essay should showcase who you are.

You want to choose a topic you’ll enjoy writing about, and that will allow college admission officers to understand your personality and life experiences better.

Enjoy the process of writing your college essay; it is not as intimidating as it may seem!

Are you and your teen feeling the pressure of college application essays? Join our Group Essay Workshop on July 10 and 24. In just 1 to 1.5 hours, our expert guidance will help your student craft a standout essay that catches admissions officers' eyes.


CPC is a team of seasoned experts who provide students and their families with personalized guidance through the college admissions process.Special thanks to Lizzie Goddard for writing this blog post.

Lizzie has a Bachelor of Arts in English/Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Endicott College in Beverly, MA. She is currently working as an 11th-grade English Teacher for an online school, specializing in teaching writing and managing a group of students to ensure they graduate from high school with the required credits to attend their desired college.

Lizzie’s greatest passion is guiding students to achieve their post-secondary goals.