How to Write a Great College Application Essay in Just Two Days

Ideally, one should start writing a college application essay several weeks before the due date. Doing this will give a student ample time to re-read and revise, ensuring that the essay is free of grammar errors, flows naturally and is interesting for the reader.

But students don’t always have the time, or the discipline to write an essay so far in advance. So here’s a quick and simple guide to how to write a college application essay in just 8 hours over two days:

Day 1

  • Hour 1: Brainstorm some topics. Most college applications will provide you with two or three essay questions to choose from. You should brainstorm your response and experience for each one and choose the one that is the most creative.
  • Hour 2: Draft a thesis and develop an outline. Take your brainstorm notes and develop them further if you need too. Remember to be creative and stay away from topics such as trips abroad, favorite coaches, sports experiences, or over-discussed social topics. These are snoozers. Your college application essay should wow your readers.
  • Hour 3: Start drafting your essay. You don’t want to worry about precise grammar and punctuation at this stage. What you want to do is write as much as possible with as much detail as you can remember from your experience. You could view this as an extended brainstorming section.
  • Hour 4: Take your first draft and mark up the pages with notes and arrows pointing to exactly what you want to stick with in your essay. Hopefully, your draft has more content than you will need. So now it’s time to keep the most interesting parts.
  • Hour 5: Rewrite your draft so that it is more organized, follows your outline, and doesn’t have any content that may have been repeated a few times in your original draft. You should pay attention to grammar and punctuation in this draft, since you will be developing your final draft from this version.

Day 2

  • Hour 6 and 7: After a good night’s sleep you should be refreshed and ready to work on that final draft. Print out your essay and re-write it on your processor, going paragraph by paragraph, making sure that you have a topic sentence, are concise with your descriptions, and provide at least one example in each. Make sure you include transition sentences or phrases to guide the reader from one paragraph to the next.
  • Hour 8: You spent the last two hours writing a good essay that would be worthy of a passing grade in secondary school. But you want a college worthy essay. And for that you should make sure you’ve conducted a thorough proofread to check for spelling mistakes, punctuation, and grammar. Be as thorough and as detailed as possible. You don’t want to distract your reader from your thoughtful answer with a missing period or incomplete sentence.