One important part of the college application process is the essay. The essay shows that you can do college-level work and that you are a good fit for the school. While the essay alone is not sufficient to get you into a school, it can make the difference in helping a top engineering college decide between two candidates or help push a candidate that is on the fence into the acceptance category.

With the tips outlined below, you may be better equipped to write your best essay and gain acceptance at a top engineering college.


What Do I Write About in My College Essay?

The essay shows who you are and why a top engineering college should accept you.

Colleges will often give a sampling of topics to choose from. Topics typically fall into – but are not limited to – these themes:

  • Something about yourself or your identity
  • Personal growth
  • A challenge you’ve overcome
  • A problem you’ve solved
  • Something you are proud of/an accomplishment

Clearly, there is overlap and the topics are usually broad enough to give you sufficient room to write about something that truly excites you. To help decide which topic to choose, here are three suggestions for brainstorming:

  1. Me, myself and I. Think about who you are as seen by yourself, your family, your friends and your extended network. Start by writing down the three adjectives you would use to describe yourself. These are the characteristics that may be most prominent and which you want to highlight in your essay. The goal is to paint a picture of who you are to the admissions committee.
  1. Roses and thorns. Everyone experiences ups and downs in their life. Make a list of the “roses” — or happy moments, joy and accomplishments, and a list of the “thorns”— challenges, struggles and risks. When reviewing your lists, specifically the thorns, consider how those challenges helped define who you are and what you did to overcome them. Consider how the experiences helped you grow and build character.
  1. The story of my life. If you were writing your autobiography what are the stories that you would include? Come up with at least two compelling stories for each school year and one for each summer. To help, reflect back on the stories you may have shared with friends and family. The anecdotes you tell over and over again are often the most important narratives of your life.

What are Colleges are Looking for?

Below are five things top engineering colleges may look for when reading your essay. Consider the tips provided to help you meet these possible expectations.

  1. Your story in your own voice. Expressing yourself clearly in your own, natural voice allows the reader to understand who you really are and the message you are trying to convey.
  1. Logical, evidence-based arguments and conclusions. Even if the admissions officer doesn’t agree with your point of view, he or she will want to see that you have presented logical arguments in a compelling manner.
  1. Your desire to attend this specific college. The essay should reflect that you want to attend that school. Courtship goes both ways. Besides demonstrating that colleges should want you, you need to show that you want them.
  1. Your ability to learn and grow. Show the admissions committee that you have made thoughtful decisions and have been honest about your strengths and weaknesses
  1. Clear communication. At the end of the day, it’s not as much what you are saying but how you are saying it. You may be applying to an engineering school, but admissions officers still want to see you that you are able to communicate effectively. Write concisely, accurately, and persuasively. Share your passion, enthusiasm and write in an engaging, compelling manner using active tense.


Before you start writing, make sure you understand the essay requirements of the school. Submit your application and essay on time. You should even aim to get the application in early; it will make you feel less stressed and provide a buffer in case any emergencies come up.

With our planning tips and outlines we hope the college essay is one part of the application process you can feel confident tackling. Once you check the essay off your to-do list, you are well down the right path to acceptance at a top engineering college.



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