College Essay Tips

Hamilton: Words Matter

As a college with a long tradition of emphasizing writing and speaking as cornerstone values, we like to say that students come to Hamilton to find their voice. In our admission process, we seek students who embody that aspiration and demonstrate that potential in their application essays.

To that end, Hamilton’s Admission Team offers these tips for you to consider when sitting down to write your college application essays. 

College Essay tips

  1. It goes without saying that your essay needs to be written by you.  Period.
  2. Choose a topic that’s right for YOU – something about which you’re passionate. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, chances are no one will be interested in reading it.
  3. Share something that’s unique to your experience. This is your chance to share information that we’re unlikely to learn about you elsewhere in your application.
  4. In sharing something about yourself, you don’t need to share everything about yourself.
  5. Use a strong opener – catch our attention right from the start.
  6. Be yourself. If you are not funny, don’t try to write something humorous.
  7. If you are passionate about an issue, don’t avoid it because it may be controversial. At the same time, your essay topic does not have to be world-changing and does not have to demonstrate you are perfect. Sometimes the simplest topic leads to the best essay.
  8. Show rather than tell. Use anecdotes, examples, and descriptions. Make it your best, most engaging writing. (And resist the urge to use the thesaurus!)
  9. Edit and proofread carefully. Read it aloud to make sure your writing clearly represents your voice. Have someone else look over the essay to help you catch things you missed, but don’t over edit and make it sound like a research paper.
  10. You’ve got a great essay in you!

Related Resources


For more writing tips, see the Hamilton Writing Center’s “Seven Deadly Sins of Writing.”

Essays that Worked
Sample Essays

Essays that Worked

We have collected just a few of the exceptional essays written by newly enrolled Hamilton students (with their permission, of course). They offer a glimpse into the diverse backgrounds and experiences, as well as the writing talents, of our newest Hamiltonians. Enjoy!

Contact Information

Office of Admission

Siuda House
Campus Road
Clinton, NY 13323
800-843-2655 315-859-4457 admission@hamilton.edu
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