1) Give yourself plenty of time! Don’t wait until a week before the deadline to begin writing. Crafting a coherent, readable essay takes time and thought. Remember that writing–any kind of writing–is essentially thinking on paper. Your college app essay is no different. The essays you submit to your colleges will reflect the quality of your thinking. If written at the last minute, your essay will reflect hasty and rushed thinking.
So give yourself enough time to fully work out your ideas through a well-paced process of brainstorming, drafting, and revising.
2) Be yourself! Don’t try to be somebody else or somebody you think your colleges want you to be. Be authentic. Remember that you “do” you better than anybody else. It’s also helpful to remember that as much as each college is assessing you as a potential student, you’re trying to find the best fit for yourself.
3) Choose a topic you care about. Don’t worry so much about finding an “important” topic to impress your admissions officers. Write about something you find meaningful or are passionate about. If you’ve done amazing work at a local nursing home, but don’t feel this experience to be particularly meaningful, choose a different topic. The key is personal value. If you write about something you value and find meaningful, not only will you have an easier time writing the essay, but it will likely be more coherent and personal—-which is what the admissions officers are looking for.