How to Write a College Essay: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide


It’s no secret that college life is synonymous with writing assignments. This is the one aspect of college life most students wish they could do away with. Luckily, writing is a skill that can be acquired and honed over time. The more you do it, the easier it gets. You just have to stay the course. This article takes an in-depth look at how to write a college essay that will get you the good grades you desire. Dive in.

American essay vs. European essay: What’s the difference?

Before going any further, it’s important to get the basics out of the way. There’s a distinct difference when it comes to writing an American and a European essay.

European essays take on a more neutral approach to writing. You need to explore both sides of an issue without having to take a hard stance.

American essays on the other take on a different approach. They are more opinionated and writers are required to choose one side of an issue and defend their position.

So before you start writing your piece, identify what approach you’re required to take. Without further ado, here are the 6 steps to writing a good college essay.

Step 1: Develop the problem and thesis statements

At the risk of stating the obvious, ensure you have a good grasp on any topic you’re writing about. You can’t explain something you don’t fully understand. Use the existing background information you have on the issue to implicitly or explicitly develop a problem.

From that, you can come up with a thesis statement that you will derive from any new information you introduce to your essay. It should be a single idea that adequately ties together all the main arguments in your composition body.

Step 2: Come up with a captivating introduction paragraph

Introductory paragraphs are the cornerstones of all essays. They might make or break it. So, it’s important to devise a hook that captures your reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of your paper.

This is where you provide a short and concise background of it. It helps to include some history, figures and any other preliminary information that is relevant to your problem. Don’t forget to give it a brief explanation.

Step 3: Compose the body of the essay

If you’re writing an American essay, ensure that the body composition comprises at least three key points and supporting arguments. For European essays, ensure you present several different standpoints. It's important not to veer off-topic. Every argument you present needs to be aligned with the thesis statement and supported by accurately cited references.

Step 4: Make the final paragraph meaningful

In your concluding paragraph, sum up your essay by including the specific findings of your research, recommendations, takeaways, and conclusions. If further research is required, include this as well under "further actions".

Step 5: List citations and references

Whether or not your statement requires citations depends largely on what type it is. If it is made up of common knowledge, your ideas, your conclusions or historical overviews, you don't need to include any citations. If you've used information that's only located in one particular source, you'll need to cite it. If you're on the fence about whether the information you've included falls under common knowledge or not, the default is always to cite. When in doubt – quote appropriately!

Step 6: Check for grammar errors and plagiarism

Despite your best efforts, grammatical errors like typos and punctuation are inevitable. Grammar plays a huge role in how the reader perceives what you’ve written. If you want to come off as an expert in the subject you’ve written about, ensure that your essay is flawless.

Use a grammar checker to detect overused words, sentence length, readability, clichés, and redundancies. Ensure that you also use plagiarism detection software to ensure that your essay is unique. If you’ve used references in your work, you need to cite those sources so that you’re not taking credit for someone else’s work.

Handing in a plagiarised college essay could see your academic career come to a screeching halt.

To wrap up

Writing an essay is a tedious and laborious endeavor, especially if you're not used to it. But a large portion of the homework assignments you get in college will always be essays. There’s no escaping them. While there’s no formula for writing the perfect essay, you can use this guide as a template for writing your essays. With more time and practice, the process will get easier.

If you’re still unsure about how to write a college essay, reach out to us. Our expert team of professional writers can get it done for you in no time at all!