Juniors, Do You Know What a College Essay is?

By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop
Kim Lifton can get a story out of anyone writing an effective college application essay
Wow President Kim Lifton

What is a college essay, anyway?

Simply put, the term college essay refers to any piece of writing that a college requires as part of the admissions process. You might hear about personal statements, personal insight questions, supplemental essays or short answer questions. All of them refer to this type of writing.

Colleges use these essays to help select a diverse class from among the hundreds or thousands of applicants whose grades, test scores and extracurricular activities can make all of you look alike. Some schools also use essays for scholarship selection. The number of essays and their length vary, depending on the colleges you apply to.

Essays are generally fairly short, ranging from 50 words for a short answer question to 650 words for a personal statement. Read the instructions closely for word or character count.

Some schools ask for just one personal statement. The University of California, on the other hand, asks students to answer four personal insight questions; each response can be up to 350 words.

The majority of schools do not conduct interviews, so college essays become the only opportunity to share a student’s unique voice.

To learn more, order your copy of Wow Writing Workshop’s How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Students! Parents, don’t worry, we wrote a companion guide for you, too.

Wow is a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!