College Essay Checklist


If your essay checks all of the boxes below, you’ve avoided the most common problems admissions counselors see in submitted essays. Congratulations!

  • My topic helps the college to know more about me beyond what is on my activities list.
  • I understood that essay word limits are not goals and that more is not necessarily better.
  • I avoided inappropriate topics.
  • I’ve had several people read my essay to see if it sounds like me.
  • I checked my essay for run-on sentences and sentence fragments.
  • I made sure the majority of my sentences didn’t start with “I”.
  • I chose an upbeat topic.
  • I used stories from my life to illustrate my points.
  • I understood the difference between being unique and being weird.
  • I avoided generic answers to essay questions, particularly for “Why this college?” essays.
  • If your essay would work for any other college, you need to make the essay more specific.
  • If your essay would work for any other applicant, then you need to make it more personal.
  • My essay is kind to the reader. It easily leads the reader along my trail of thoughts.
  • I checked the punctuation to make sure I used it correctly.
  • I didn’t try to impress by using words from a dictionary or thesaurus that aren’t words I would normally use.
  • The essay sounds like me.
  • I used spellcheck, but I didn’t trust it alone to find or correct all my mistakes.
  • I avoided Wendy’s list of forbidden words and phrases.


Download checklist
as printable PDF.


Thank you for editing my supplemental essays. It really helped to have a set of professional eyes look at my writing! Your support and feedback has definitely helped me improve.



Thank you for the time and attention you gave to Ella’s materials. Your thoughtful feedback on her essays was especially helpful. We’ve gotten “unstuck” and are moving along.