Writing a College Essay for an Online School

Writing a College Essay for an Online School

To complete your application for the online schools you are interested in you will most likely have to write a personal statement. Applications for some online programs may even call for multiple prerequisite essays.

The admission committee for your online school gleans a lot of information from what you write, but committee members can also tell a lot from how you write. When writing a college essay, be sure to convey your ideas clearly and effectively, so that you adequately demonstrate your ability to communicate. Additionally, exhibit your attention to detail by ensuring that your writing is free of grammatical and spelling errors.

Selecting College Application Essay Topics

College application essay topics will usually vary. For some programs, you may have to explain in one or two paragraphs why you want to go to that institution. Other programs may have you write on a more creative topic, such as the person who influenced you the most.

Colleges will often have open-ended essay questions, leaving it up to the students to determine what they would like to write about. Below are some ideas for college application essay topics to help you get started:

  • Your personal and professional goals and their relationship to your education
  • How and why you became interested in a particular field
  • Aspects of your life that make you uniquely qualified to pursue study in this field
  • Experiences or qualities that distinguish you from other applicants
  • Unusual hardships or obstacles that you have overcome
  • Unusual accomplishments, whether personal, professional or academic
  • Professional experiences that have contributed to your personal growth
  • How your skills and personal characteristics will contribute to your success
  • What appeals to you about a particular program
  • How your interests and strengths match the program needs

Tips for Writing a College Essay

While you should take your personal statement seriously, writing a college essay does not have to be an overwhelming undertaking. Here are some guidelines to follow throughout the writing process:

  1. Carefully read the instructions for your online school’s prerequisite essay, and answer the question posed. Small differences in wording can affect how you approach each essay.
  2. If instructions say keep it to one page, do so. If instructions say 100 words, stick to 100 words. If the length is not specified, write no more than two pages.
  3. Write a strong opening paragraph that grabs the attention of the reader. Admission committee members might read fifty essays in a day, and it is important that yours stands out.
  4. College application essay topics should always be unique to the school. Do not write a boilerplate essay. Use the knowledge you gained from researching the online education program to explain why you think the school is a good match. Your supporting arguments should reflect your knowledge of the program.
  5. Describe your goals, even if you are not exactly sure what you want to do professionally. Indicating that you have a purpose in obtaining your degree shows that you are focused and motivated.
  6. Be yourself. This is the most common advice from admission directors. You want to be accepted by a program that is a good match for you. At the same time, frame your weaknesses in a positive light.

Things to Keep in Mind

When writing a college essay, remember that your personal statement is the primary tool college admissions officers use to decide among hundreds or even thousands of applicants with comparable experience and academic credentials. In fact, more than one third of the time an admission officer spends on your application is spent evaluating your essay.

To make an impression, your essay must not only demonstrate your grasp of grammar and ability to write lucid, structured prose, it must also paint a vivid picture of your personality and character—one that compels a busy admission officer to admit you. When selecting your college application essay topics, take your time. It is essential that your personal statement is the best possible representation of you!