do i need a title for college essay

Best Tips on How to Title an Essay

do i need a title for college essay

How to Make a Good Title for an Essay

The success of an essay heavily depends on its title. This may not come as a surprise given that the essay title is the first aspect to provide the reader with a sneak peek into the text. It piques our interest to read the paper in the first place and gives us a preview of what to expect from the author.

Our research paper writing help prepared a thorough guide on how to title an essay. Here you may find tips and tricks for developing an effective APA or MLA essay title. So, let's dive straight into the article for more exciting details!

Essay Title Format

During your essay writing process, ensure you know the stylistic requirements before beginning an essay. Knowing the format you need to employ is crucial because different style manuals may have varying requirements. Mostly, you could have used an APA or MLA essay title format. Our service, where you can buy essay online , explains these two in more detail below.

Essay Title MLA

If you're required to create an essay title MLA format, check whether your instructor wants you to make a separate cover page. If not, put a heading at the beginning of your work that includes your name, the name of your professor, the course ID, and, lastly, the date.

On the other hand, if you must present a cover page for your essay title MLA, then you need to include the following:

  • The name of the college
  • The title of your paper
  • The subtitle of your paper, if applicable
  • Your first and last name
  • Your teacher or professor's name
  • The class name or course number
  • The date the paper is due

The formatting instructions are as follows:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • Size 12 font
  • Apart from very short terms, each word's initial letter should be capitalized. The initial word, however, must always be uppercase.
  • The title page shouldn't include a header with the page numbers.

Essay Title APA

Having discussed the MLA format essay title, let's explore what the APA student title page includes:

  • The paper title
  • Author names
  • Institutional affiliation where the author carried out the study
  • Name and number of the course
  • Professor name
  • Page number

The title of an essay format instructions:

  • double-spaced
  • 1" margins
  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • According to APA, your title should be targeted and brief, without unnecessary words or abbreviations

How to Choose a Good Title for an Essay: Important Qualities

Nobody will read a dull headline. Your title should grab your audience's attention and encourage them to read the rest of the work. As it is one of the initial things readers see, having a strong attention grabber is essential when writing an essay from scratch. To fully understand how to come up with a title for essay that is strong and exciting, let's consider a few following factors:

Employ a Catchy Hook - Usually, the title of essay format follows a similar basic structure, especially if they are used for an academic article. The hook serves as a unique component that attracts the reader. It's a captivating statement informing others about the topic of the essay. You can also explore several types of sentences with examples that can help you develop the ideal hook structure.

Consider Topic Keywords - These are essential terms or expressions pertinent to your subject and help your reader understand the focus and body of your article. These focus keywords should serve as a brief, one- to two-word article summary. You can choose some terms from the research topic your instructor gave you, but after your thesis statement is formed, this is where you should hunt for ideas.

Use a Colon - A colon is frequently used in academic titles to separate concepts and sentences. The standard procedure is to place a clever remark or brief quotation before the colon. Although these beginning words offer flavor, they can be overdone. Because of this, some individuals find using the colon to be repugnant. Therefore be careful not to misuse this method.

Ask a Question - To write essay title that is strong, consider asking a question. But, use it with caution because posing a question will make your tone less formal. As long as the question is suitably phrased to meet the subject of your essay, feel free to employ it. Always check to see if the title question still applies to your points in the essay's body. The thesis statement should be appropriately reflected as well.

Find Inspirational Quotes - There is no formula for selecting essay titles from the textual content. You may get playful and choose any quotation, proverb, or catchphrase that applies to your particular publication and works as a title. You may also create a great essay title using well-known expressions or idioms. Doing so will help your readers relate to and feel more comfortable discussing your subject.

How to Title an Essay headline

Here are other rules for how to create a good title:

  • Title every section of writing: In the process of writing, create interesting subheadings to give your paragraphs an identity. Also, they make your text look ordered and clear. 
  • The title must bear the theme of the text: choose a title that summarizes the essay. 
  • Capitalize all words with certain exceptions: Capitalize the first letter of every word in the title, but do not capitalize pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
  • Avoid underlining the title: Since topics come in boldface, underlining it will amount to overemphasis. Some authorities say that if you must underline it, do not bolden it.
  • Review the final version of the title: Do not forget to do a quick review of the final version of the title—check for grammar, structure, spelling and so on. Re-read it to determine if the title has given justice to the essay. Confirm if the topic is catchy enough to attract your reader’s attention. 
  • When using a colon in your title, follow the rules: Since we are dealing with punctuation rules here, let us talk about the colon – when you have two eye-catching topics, separate them with a colon.

Student’s Guide on How to Come Up with a Title for an Essay

Titling an essay can be easy, but there are a few core principles to be taken into account. The following tips will help you stay on track and avoid any common pitfalls.

Essay Goes First

Never start with a title! If you write it before the rest of the text, it will be based on it, and it should be vice versa. Writing an essay before choosing a heading will give you a clear understanding of what should make sense to the reader. Re-read the finished paper several times to decide on the title. The last thing to create is a title - such strategy will give more time to spend on crafting an essay outline, conducting research, or writing the paper itself.

How to Title an Essay, Complete Guide 2

What are you writing about? What is the style of your paper, and is it an academic essay or a free-form essay like a narrative essay? If the topic of your essay is “Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?” your title should not be humorous; it should be strict and to the point.

If your topic is “Why do people like watching funny cat videos?”, feel free to craft a funny title. Determine the tone of your essay and base your title on it—in consideration with the essay’s topic.

The tone can be:

  • Serious - “The implications of global warming”
  • Funny - “How cats and dogs love their masters”
  • Amiable - “Ways to fight depression”
  • Persuasive - “Why positive thinking is a must have skill for every person”
  • Informative - “Ten rules for creating a chemical at home”

The main goal of a title is to name its paper. There is no need to tell an entire story in the title, or provide any useless details. Sum up your paper in a few words! Another way to do this is to sum up your thesis statement, as it represents the main idea of your essay. Take your thesis and squeeze it into 3-4 words. Imagine that you are creating a title for your favourite newspaper or a slogan for Coca-Cola.

Don’t use fancy words! Take 2-3 main words (keywords), put them together, and stop wasting your time. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that can help any student and young writer reap benefits. While working on a title, detect the words related to the central idea of the paper. Type the words into the search field of Google and add the word “quote.” A search engine will show numerous web pages with in-text quotations that could be useful. Select the fragment you like. It is possible to learn how to make a creative title for an essay in this way.

Discover several more tips from experts:

  • Never forget the “What,” “Who,” “When,” “How,” “Why,” and “Where” questions (if you start with one of these questions, your title has a chance of getting noticed);
  • Come up with an unexpected image not related to the selected topic;
  • Sometimes, starting with a lie increases the chances of a title being able to catch an eye;
  • Review our catchy essay title examples.

Need Some Help With Your Essay's Title?

Feel free to contact EssayPro and we will provide you with a writing help at a moment’s notice. With the years of essay writing experience, titling becomes second nature, so you no longer need to worry about having a catchy headline on your paper.

Essay Title Examples: Bad vs Good

The strongest essay titles condense lengthy essays into concise statements. When wondering how to make an essay title, think carefully about your stylistic choices and essay format to produce an excellent one. Our dissertation help has provided essay title examples to let you understand the difference between good and bad ones more vividly.

bad good essay titles

Bad Essay Title Examples

As we discussed how to create an essay title and the specific elements that go into it, you should have a clear idea of how important it is to craft a strong title. In contrast, first, look at weak essay title ideas that can break your paper. This should serve as an example of why your heading should not be like this:

Ex 1: ' How Television Has Changed Our World ' - too vast and not informative

Ex 2: 'The Ara Pacis Augustae' - unclear for those who don't know Latin

Ex 3: 'The Most Poisonous Frog' - does not provide any insight

Ex 4: 'A Brief History of Subcultures and How They Manifest Themselves in a Constantly Changing Socio-Economic Environment' - too long and complicated

Ex 5: 'The Little Mermaid 29 Years Later: Selling a Harmful Sexist Message Through a Naughty Image' - inappropriate language

Good Essay Title Examples

Now that you know what a bad essay title looks like, let's explore good essay title examples as their substitutes. Examine the following essay title format styles that will give you a clear understanding.

Ex 1: ' The Electronic Babysitter: A Social History of Uses of the Television' - gives an exact description of what the essay will be about

Ex 2: ' The Modern Historical Significance of the Ara Pacis Augustae to the City of Rome' - here, the reader can understand what they will be reading about

Ex 3: ' A Deadly Beauty: The Evolution of Skin Coloration and Toxicity of the Poisonous Dart Frog' - clear, informative, and on-point.

Ex 4: 'Reconsidering Counterculture in Contemporary Society' - informative enough and brief

Ex 5: 'The Projection of Gender Stereotypes in The Little Mermaid' - employs appropriate language

Catchy Essay Title Ideas

You now understand that long, complicated headlines do not accurately convey the paper's main idea. Take ample time to consider the word choice before tilting your work. How do you create good essay titles? Think creatively and with common sense. But meanwhile, for your convenience, we compiled title ideas for essays you may use as inspiration.

Persuasive Essay Titles

  • Why Receiving College Education is Important: Examining Long-term Benefits
  • Face-to-Face Courses Cannot Be Replaced by Online Learning
  • An MBA Does Not Ensure Corporate Success.
  • Every Company Should Adopt a Green Strategy.
  • Energy Drinks Represent a Lucrative Market Segment.
  • Aircraft, Excess Weight Charges, Need to be Prohibited.
  • Patients' Life Shouldn't be Put to Death by Nurses.
  • Google Glasses May Increase the Number of Auto Accidents.
  • All of the Conventional Malls Will Soon be Replaced By Online Shopping
  • How Do Team-building Exercises Contribute to the Development of Inventions?
  • Illegal immigrants are entitled to remain in the US.

Academic Essay Titles

  • Several English Dialects: The Link Between Various Cultures
  • Instagram: A social media innovation
  • Is it possible to reverse drug-induced brain damage, and if so, how?
  • What the Future Holds for Humans in the Light of Artificial Intelligence
  • The Story of Two Nations after Decades of Conflict: North and South Korea
  • Video Games and Their Learning Context in Schools
  • Free Wi-Fi: Strategies for Enhancing the City's Economy

Strong Research Paper Titles

  • Digital World Cybersecurity
  • E-business to Provide New Paths for Booksellers
  • Outsourcing for Large Businesses
  • Preparing for College Costs for High School Students
  • What News Reporters Should Do in the Digital Age and How to Do It: Examples
  • The Transformative Power of Music: How Heavy Metal Impacted My Life

Best Essay Titles for College Students

  • The Possible Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence for Humans
  • The Potential for Time Travel in Virtual Reality
  • What Role Has Mathematics Played in Human History?
  • How to Succeed in the Real Estate Industry
  • E-Commerce: An Empire of Virtual Businesses Worth Millions of Dollars
  • How to Achieve Financial Independence in the Digital Age Without Opening a Real Business

More Creative Titles for Essays

  • When getting rewarded for their grades, would kids do better left alone?
  • How Does Fake News Impact the Mainstream press?
  • Homelessness in Contemporary Society: A Dilemma
  • What News Reporters' Best Job Is in the Digital Age and How to Uphold It
  • Elon Musk: Brilliant Mind or Insane Person?
  • Positives and Negatives of Employing a Smoker
  • Do We Employ the Appropriate Student Success Metrics?

Professional Academic Help

Now that you know how to make a good title for an essay, you should also understand that you should approach the task as a process. While composing your essay title, you must condense your whole thesis and point of discussion into a single, concise, yet powerful sentence. If you have time before your deadline, give it some thought and don't hurry.

Don't forget that you can always rely on our professional academic assistance, whether you need a reflection paper , ideas for a strong essay title, or any other academic papers. Consider the following words - write my essay for me - magic keywords for delegating your most complex tasks to our skilled writers!

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How To Title An Essay?

How to title an essay in mla format, what are some good titles for an essay.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

do i need a title for college essay

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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College essays are an entirely new type of writing for high school seniors. For that reason, many students are confused about proper formatting and essay structure. Should you double-space or single-space? Do you need a title? What kind of narrative style is best-suited for your topic?

In this post, we’ll be going over proper college essay format, traditional and unconventional essay structures (plus sample essays!), and which structure might work best for you. 

General College Essay Formatting Guidelines

How you format your essay will depend on whether you’re submitting in a text box, or attaching a document. We’ll go over the different best practices for both, but regardless of how you’re submitting, here are some general formatting tips:

  • There’s no need for a title; it takes up unnecessary space and eats into your word count
  • Stay within the word count as much as possible (+/- 10% of the upper limit). For further discussion on college essay length, see our post How Long Should Your College Essay Be?
  • Indent or double space to separate paragraphs clearly

If you’re submitting in a text box:

  • Avoid italics and bold, since formatting often doesn’t transfer over in text boxes
  • Be careful with essays meant to be a certain shape (like a balloon); text boxes will likely not respect that formatting. Beyond that, this technique can also seem gimmicky, so proceed with caution
  • Make sure that paragraphs are clearly separated, as text boxes can also undo indents and double spacing

If you’re attaching a document:

  • Use a standard font and size like Times New Roman, 12 point
  • Make your lines 1.5-spaced or double-spaced
  • Use 1-inch margins
  • Save as a PDF since it can’t be edited. This also prevents any formatting issues that come with Microsoft Word, since older versions are sometimes incompatible with the newer formatting
  • Number each page with your last name in the header or footer (like “Smith 1”)
  • Pay extra attention to any word limits, as you won’t be cut off automatically, unlike with most text boxes

Conventional College Essay Structures

Now that we’ve gone over the logistical aspects of your essay, let’s talk about how you should structure your writing. There are three traditional college essay structures. They are:

  • In-the-moment narrative
  • Narrative told over an extended period of time
  • Series of anecdotes, or montage

Let’s go over what each one is exactly, and take a look at some real essays using these structures.

1. In-the-moment narrative

This is where you tell the story one moment at a time, sharing the events as they occur. In the moment narrative is a powerful essay format, as your reader experiences the events, your thoughts, and your emotions with you . This structure is ideal for a specific experience involving extensive internal dialogue, emotions, and reflections.

Here’s an example:

The morning of the Model United Nation conference, I walked into Committee feeling confident about my research. We were simulating the Nuremberg Trials – a series of post-World War II proceedings for war crimes – and my portfolio was of the Soviet Judge Major General Iona Nikitchenko. Until that day, the infamous Nazi regime had only been a chapter in my history textbook; however, the conference’s unveiling of each defendant’s crimes brought those horrors to life. The previous night, I had organized my research, proofread my position paper and gone over Judge Nikitchenko’s pertinent statements. I aimed to find the perfect balance between his stance and my own.

As I walked into committee anticipating a battle of wits, my director abruptly called out to me. “I’m afraid we’ve received a late confirmation from another delegate who will be representing Judge Nikitchenko. You, on the other hand, are now the defense attorney, Otto Stahmer.” Everyone around me buzzed around the room in excitement, coordinating with their allies and developing strategies against their enemies, oblivious to the bomb that had just dropped on me. I felt frozen in my tracks, and it seemed that only rage against the careless delegate who had confirmed her presence so late could pull me out of my trance. After having spent a month painstakingly crafting my verdicts and gathering evidence against the Nazis, I now needed to reverse my stance only three hours before the first session.

Gradually, anger gave way to utter panic. My research was fundamental to my performance, and without it, I knew I could add little to the Trials. But confident in my ability, my director optimistically recommended constructing an impromptu defense. Nervously, I began my research anew. Despite feeling hopeless, as I read through the prosecution’s arguments, I uncovered substantial loopholes. I noticed a lack of conclusive evidence against the defendants and certain inconsistencies in testimonies. My discovery energized me, inspiring me to revisit the historical overview in my conference “Background Guide” and to search the web for other relevant articles. Some Nazi prisoners had been treated as “guilty” before their court dates. While I had brushed this information under the carpet while developing my position as a judge, it now became the focus of my defense. I began scratching out a new argument, centered on the premise that the allied countries had violated the fundamental rule that, a defendant was “not guilty” until proven otherwise.

At the end of the three hours, I felt better prepared. The first session began, and with bravado, I raised my placard to speak. Microphone in hand, I turned to face my audience. “Greetings delegates. I, Otto Stahmer would like to…….” I suddenly blanked. Utter dread permeated my body as I tried to recall my thoughts in vain. “Defence Attorney, Stahmer we’ll come back to you,” my Committee Director broke the silence as I tottered back to my seat, flushed with embarrassment. Despite my shame, I was undeterred. I needed to vindicate my director’s faith in me. I pulled out my notes, refocused, and began outlining my arguments in a more clear and direct manner. Thereafter, I spoke articulately, confidently putting forth my points. I was overjoyed when Secretariat members congratulated me on my fine performance.

Going into the conference, I believed that preparation was the key to success. I wouldn’t say I disagree with that statement now, but I believe adaptability is equally important. My ability to problem-solve in the face of an unforeseen challenge proved advantageous in the art of diplomacy. Not only did this experience transform me into a confident and eloquent delegate at that conference, but it also helped me become a more flexible and creative thinker in a variety of other capacities. Now that I know I can adapt under pressure, I look forward to engaging in activities that will push me to be even quicker on my feet.

This essay is an excellent example of in-the-moment narration. The student openly shares their internal state with us — we feel their anger and panic upon the reversal of roles. We empathize with their emotions of “utter dread” and embarrassment when they’re unable to speak. 

For in-the-moment essays, overloading on descriptions is a common mistake students make. This writer provides just the right amount of background and details to help us understand the situation, however, and balances out the actual event with reflection on the significance of this experience. 

One main area of improvement is that the writer sometimes makes explicit statements that could be better illustrated through their thoughts, actions, and feelings. For instance, they say they “spoke articulately” after recovering from their initial inability to speak, and they also claim that adaptability has helped them in other situations. This is not as engaging as actual examples that convey the same meaning. Still, this essay overall is a strong example of in-the-moment narration, and gives us a relatable look into the writer’s life and personality.

2. Narrative told over an extended period of time

In this essay structure, you share a story that takes place across several different experiences. This narrative style is well-suited for any story arc with multiple parts. If you want to highlight your development over time, you might consider this structure. 

When I was younger, I was adamant that no two foods on my plate touch. As a result, I often used a second plate to prevent such an atrocity. In many ways, I learned to separate different things this way from my older brothers, Nate and Rob. Growing up, I idolized both of them. Nate was a performer, and I insisted on arriving early to his shows to secure front row seats, refusing to budge during intermission for fear of missing anything. Rob was a three-sport athlete, and I attended his games religiously, waving worn-out foam cougar paws and cheering until my voice was hoarse. My brothers were my role models. However, while each was talented, neither was interested in the other’s passion. To me, they represented two contrasting ideals of what I could become: artist or athlete. I believed I had to choose.

And for a long time, I chose athlete. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and viewed myself exclusively as an athlete, believing the arts were not for me. I conveniently overlooked that since the age of five, I had been composing stories for my family for Christmas, gifts that were as much for me as them, as I loved writing. So when in tenth grade, I had the option of taking a creative writing class, I was faced with a question: could I be an athlete and a writer? After much debate, I enrolled in the class, feeling both apprehensive and excited. When I arrived on the first day of school, my teacher, Ms. Jenkins, asked us to write down our expectations for the class. After a few minutes, eraser shavings stubbornly sunbathing on my now-smudged paper, I finally wrote, “I do not expect to become a published writer from this class. I just want this to be a place where I can write freely.”

Although the purpose of the class never changed for me, on the third “submission day,” – our time to submit writing to upcoming contests and literary magazines – I faced a predicament. For the first two submission days, I had passed the time editing earlier pieces, eventually (pretty quickly) resorting to screen snake when hopelessness made the words look like hieroglyphics. I must not have been as subtle as I thought, as on the third of these days, Ms. Jenkins approached me. After shifting from excuse to excuse as to why I did not submit my writing, I finally recognized the real reason I had withheld my work: I was scared. I did not want to be different, and I did not want to challenge not only others’ perceptions of me, but also my own. I yielded to Ms. Jenkin’s pleas and sent one of my pieces to an upcoming contest.

By the time the letter came, I had already forgotten about the contest. When the flimsy white envelope arrived in the mail, I was shocked and ecstatic to learn that I had received 2nd place in a nationwide writing competition. The next morning, however, I discovered Ms. Jenkins would make an announcement to the whole school exposing me as a poet. I decided to own this identity and embrace my friends’ jokes and playful digs, and over time, they have learned to accept and respect this part of me. I have since seen more boys at my school identifying themselves as writers or artists.

I no longer see myself as an athlete and a poet independently, but rather I see these two aspects forming a single inseparable identity – me. Despite their apparent differences, these two disciplines are quite similar, as each requires creativity and devotion. I am still a poet when I am lacing up my cleats for soccer practice and still an athlete when I am building metaphors in the back of my mind – and I have realized ice cream and gummy bears taste pretty good together.

The timeline of this essay spans from the writer’s childhood all the way to sophomore year, but we only see key moments along this journey. First, we get context for why the writer thought he had to choose one identity: his older brothers had very distinct interests. Then, we learn about the student’s 10th grade creative writing class, writing contest, and results of the contest. Finally, the essay covers the writers’ embarrassment of his identity as a poet, to gradual acceptance and pride in that identity. 

This essay is a great example of a narrative told over an extended period of time. It’s highly personal and reflective, as the piece shares the writer’s conflicting feelings, and takes care to get to the root of those feelings. Furthermore, the overarching story is that of a personal transformation and development, so it’s well-suited to this essay structure.

3. Series of anecdotes, or montage

This essay structure allows you to focus on the most important experiences of a single storyline, or it lets you feature multiple (not necessarily related) stories that highlight your personality. Montage is a structure where you piece together separate scenes to form a whole story. This technique is most commonly associated with film. Just envision your favorite movie—it likely is a montage of various scenes that may not even be chronological. 

Night had robbed the academy of its daytime colors, yet there was comfort in the dim lights that cast shadows of our advances against the bare studio walls. Silhouettes of roundhouse kicks, spin crescent kicks, uppercuts and the occasional butterfly kick danced while we sparred. She approached me, eyes narrowed with the trace of a smirk challenging me. “Ready spar!” Her arm began an upward trajectory targeting my shoulder, a common first move. I sidestepped — only to almost collide with another flying fist. Pivoting my right foot, I snapped my left leg, aiming my heel at her midsection. The center judge raised one finger. 

There was no time to celebrate, not in the traditional sense at least. Master Pollard gave a brief command greeted with a unanimous “Yes, sir” and the thud of 20 hands dropping-down-and-giving-him-30, while the “winners” celebrated their victory with laps as usual. 

Three years ago, seven-thirty in the evening meant I was a warrior. It meant standing up straighter, pushing a little harder, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am”, celebrating birthdays by breaking boards, never pointing your toes, and familiarity. Three years later, seven-thirty in the morning meant I was nervous. 

The room is uncomfortably large. The sprung floor soaks up the checkerboard of sunlight piercing through the colonial windows. The mirrored walls further illuminate the studio and I feel the light scrutinizing my sorry attempts at a pas de bourrée , while capturing the organic fluidity of the dancers around me. “ Chassé en croix, grand battement, pique, pirouette.” I follow the graceful limbs of the woman in front of me, her legs floating ribbons, as she executes what seems to be a perfect ronds de jambes. Each movement remains a negotiation. With admirable patience, Ms. Tan casts me a sympathetic glance.   

There is no time to wallow in the misery that is my right foot. Taekwondo calls for dorsiflexion; pointed toes are synonymous with broken toes. My thoughts drag me into a flashback of the usual response to this painful mistake: “You might as well grab a tutu and head to the ballet studio next door.” Well, here I am Master Pollard, unfortunately still following your orders to never point my toes, but no longer feeling the satisfaction that comes with being a third degree black belt with 5 years of experience quite literally under her belt. It’s like being a white belt again — just in a leotard and ballet slippers. 

But the appetite for new beginnings that brought me here doesn’t falter. It is only reinforced by the classical rendition of “Dancing Queen” that floods the room and the ghost of familiarity that reassures me that this new beginning does not and will not erase the past. After years spent at the top, it’s hard to start over. But surrendering what you are only leads you to what you may become. In Taekwondo, we started each class reciting the tenets: honor, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, courage, humility, and knowledge, and I have never felt that I embodied those traits more so than when I started ballet. 

The thing about change is that it eventually stops making things so different. After nine different schools, four different countries, three different continents, fluency in Tamil, Norwegian, and English, there are more blurred lines than there are clear fragments. My life has not been a tactfully executed, gold medal-worthy Taekwondo form with each movement defined, nor has it been a series of frappés performed by a prima ballerina with each extension identical and precise, but thankfully it has been like the dynamics of a spinning back kick, fluid, and like my chances of landing a pirouette, unpredictable. 

This essay takes a few different anecdotes and weaves them into a coherent narrative about the writer’s penchant for novel experiences. We’re plunged into her universe, in the middle of her Taekwondo spar, three years before the present day. She then transitions into a scene in a ballet studio, present day. By switching from past tense to present tense, the writer clearly demarcates this shift in time. 

The parallel use of the spoken phrase “Point” in the essay ties these two experiences together. The writer also employs a flashback to Master Pollard’s remark about “grabbing a tutu” and her habit of dorsiflexing her toes, which further cements the connection between these anecdotes. 

While some of the descriptions are a little wordy, the piece is well-executed overall, and is a stellar example of the montage structure. The two anecdotes are seamlessly intertwined, and they both clearly illustrate the student’s determination, dedication, reflectiveness, and adaptability. The writer also concludes the essay with a larger reflection on her life, many moves, and multiple languages. 

Unconventional College Essay Structures

Unconventional essay structures are any that don’t fit into the categories above. These tend to be higher risk, as it’s easier to turn off the admissions officer, but they’re also higher reward if executed correctly. 

There are endless possibilities for unconventional structures, but most fall under one of two categories:

1. Playing with essay format

Instead of choosing a traditional narrative format, you might take a more creative route to showcase your interests, writing your essay:

  • As a movie script
  • With a creative visual format (such as creating a visual pattern with the spaces between your sentences forming a picture)
  • As a two-sided Lincoln-Douglas debate
  • As a legal brief
  • Using song lyrics

2. Linguistic techniques

You could also play with the actual language and sentence structure of your essay, writing it:

  • In iambic pentameter
  • Partially in your mother tongue
  • In code or a programming language

These linguistic techniques are often hybrid, where you write some of the essay with the linguistic variation, then write more of an explanation in English.

Under no circumstances should you feel pressured to use an unconventional structure. Trying to force something unconventional will only hurt your chances. That being said, if a creative structure comes naturally to you, suits your personality, and works with the content of your essay — go for that structure!

←What is a College Application Theme and How Do You Come Up With One?

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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do i need a title for college essay

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The Admissions Strategist

College essay titles: are they important.

If you’re reading this, you are probably writing your college essays. Writing, drafting, revising, and proofreading your essays all play really important roles in the process.

One of the finishing touches on most pieces of writing is a title – but do you need one in a college essay? This guide gives you all the information you’ll need!

College Essay Titles: Everything to Know!

Click above to watch a video on College Essay Titles.

Are college essay titles important?

To be blunt: not really. The most important part of a college essay is the essay itself. Your essay should be personal, insightful, creative, and meticulously proofread. They do not need to be titled.

However, this doesn’t mean that a title is a bad idea. A title for your college essay falls under the “nice to have” category. A title isn’t something that an application reader will be looking for, but a well-done title can really help tie your essay together, especially if you have room in your word count for one.

How to think of a great college essay title

A title for any piece of writing should be brief, clever, and creative. Most importantly for college essays, they should add something to your piece. College essays often have a limited word count, so if you are going to be using some of the words for a title, it’s important to make sure it’s worth it!

To begin brainstorming a great college essay title, close your eyes. Think about your essay holistically. Likely you have been working on a micro-level of editing and revising: word choice, sentence structure, and other small-level changes. Try and zoom out.

What is the big picture of your essay? What is the major lesson you learned? Or, perhaps, what is the funniest part – what could be an exciting hook for your reader? Try and brainstorm a list of these ideas. Don’t worry about being brief yet.

Once you have an idea you like, workshop it down. Try and make your title as short as you can without sacrificing substance.

It might also be a good idea to ask some friends, family members, or teachers for advice. Sometimes it’s easier to see the big picture of an essay if you weren’t the person who actually wrote it.

Examples of poor college essay titles

A bad essay title is wordy, confusing, or just plain boring. Restating the essay prompt in a title, or an essay for that matter, is a waste of words and time. Avoid titles that sound like the following:

  • “My Most Memorable Moment” – boring
  • “The Importance of Finding Community in Unlikely Places” – boring and wordy
  • “Why I Want to Attend [University Name]” – boring
  • “Cars and Lessons” – confusing and vague, doesn’t add anything to the piece

Examples of great college essay titles

So, what does a good college essay title sound like? Great college essay titles are quippy, creative, interesting, and/or add something new to your essay. Here are some examples:

  • “Found Family, French Fries, and Football” – the alliteration shows some extra thought put into titling the essay. This title already tells a reader this will likely be about the author finding a community in a football team, but leaves the reader wondering how french fries factor into it all.
  • “Y-whay I-way Ove-lay Ig-pay Atin-lay” – this falls under the “creative” category. That title uses “Pig Latin,” a made-up “language” many people are likely familiar with. Once translated, this also piques the reader’s interest; how will Pig Latin be relevant in a college essay?
  • “It’s The Lemurs” – this title is for an essay answering “Why Do You Want To Attend Our School,” and the author chose to write about the university’s lemur research center. This is a short and surprising title, and definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more!

Conclusion: College Essay Titles

When push comes to shove, your essay is your essay, and you know it best. If you feel certain that the best title for your essay breaks one of the above rules, that’s okay. Our guidelines are just that: guidelines.

Hopefully, this guide helps you understand the purpose of college essay titles and how to come up with good ones. Remember, essay titles for college applications are certainly not necessary, but can add a lot if done correctly.

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do i need a title for college essay

How to Write a Great College Application Essay Title

Learn why you should craft an effective title and how to make it work

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Your application essay' s title is the first thing admissions officials will read. Although there are many ways to approach the title, it's important that the words at the top of the page make the proper impression.

Key Takeaways: Application Essay Titles

  • Don't skip the title. It's the first thing the admissions folks will read, and it is your chance to grab their interest.
  • Avoid vague titles and cliché phrases. Make sure the title gives a sense of your essay's content.
  • A little humor can be fine in a title, but it isn't necessary and cleverness should never be forced.

Importance of the Title

Ask yourself which work you'd be more excited to read: " Give Goth a Chance " or "Carrie's Essay." If you don't provide a title, you don't give your reader—in this case, busy admissions officials sorting through thousands of applications—any reason to be interested in reading your essay other than a sense of duty. Ensure that college admissions officers are motivated to read your essay due to curiosity rather than necessity.

Alternatively, imagine a newspaper in which every article lacks a title: You would be unlikely to pick up the paper and read anything. Clearly, a newspaper without titles would be confusing for readers. Application essays are similar in that way: Your readers want to know what it is that they are going to read.

The Purpose of an Application Essay Title

A well-crafted title should:

  • Grab your reader's attention
  • Make your reader want to read your essay
  • Provide a sense of what your essay is about

When it comes to the third item, realize that you don't need to be too detailed. Academic essays often have titles that look like: "Julia Cameron's Photography: A Study of the Use of Long Shutter Speeds to Create Spiritual Effects." For an application essay, such a title would come across as cumbersome and even pompous.

Consider how a reader would react to an essay with the title, "The Author's Trip to Costa Rica and How It Changed His Attitude Toward Biodiversity and Sustainability." After reading such a long and belabored title, admissions officials would have little motivation to read the essay.

Essay Title Examples

A good title can be clever or play with words, such as "Porkopolis"  by Felicity or "Buck Up"  by Jill. "Porkopolis" is a nonsense word, but it works well for an essay on becoming a vegetarian in a meat-centric world, and "Buck Up" employs both a literal and figurative meaning of the phrase. However, don't try to be too clever. Such efforts can backfire.

A title can be provocative. As an example, a student who wrote about encountering new foods while abroad titled her essay "Eating Eyeballs." If your essay focuses on a humorous, shocking or embarrassing moment in your life, it's often easy to write an attention-grabbing title. Titles such as "Puking on the President," "Romeo's Ripped Tights," and "The Wrong Goal" are sure to pique your reader's interest.

Simple and direct language can also be quite effective. Consider, for example, "The Job I Should Have Quit"  by Drew,  "Wallflower"  by Eileen, and "Striking Out"  by Richard. These titles don't play with words or reveal great wit, but they accomplish their purpose perfectly well.

In all of these examples, the title provides at least a sense of the essay's subject matter, and each motivates the reader to continue reading. After viewing such titles, even harried admissions officials are sure to ask: What the heck does "Porkopolis" mean? Why did you eat eyeballs? Why should you have quit your job?

Avoid These Title Mistakes

There are some common missteps that applicants make when it comes to titles. Be aware of these pitfalls.

Vague language . You'll be off to a remarkably bland start if your essay is titled "Three Things That Matter to Me" or "A Bad Experience." "Bad" (or "good" or "evil or "nice") is a painfully subjective and meaningless word, and the word "things" might have worked well in Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," but it rarely adds anything of value to your essay. Be precise, not vague .

Broad, overly general language . This is a continuation of the vague language problem. Some titles try to cover far too much. Don't call your essay "My Life Story" or "My Personal Growth" or "An Eventful Upbringing." Such titles suggest that you are going to attempt to narrate years of your life in a few hundred words. Any such effort is doomed to failure, and your reader will doubt your essay before beginning the first paragraph.

Overblown vocabulary . The best essays use clear and accessible language. When a writer attempts to sound intelligent by adding unnecessary syllables to every word, the reading experience is often torturous. For example, if an essay's title is "My Utilization of Erroneous Rationalizations During My Pupilage," the reader's immediate response is going to be pure dread. No one wants to read 600 words on such a subject.

Strained cleverness . Be careful if you're relying on wordplay in your title. Not all readers are fans of puns, and a title may sound ridiculous if the reader doesn't understand a supposedly clever allusion. Cleverness is a good thing, but test out your title on your acquaintances to ensure that it works.

Clichés . If your title relies on a cliché, you're suggesting that the experience that you are narrating is unremarkable and commonplace. You don't want the first impression of your essay to be that you have nothing original to say. If you find yourself writing "When the Cat Got My Tongue" or "Burning the Midnight Oil," stop and reevaluate your title.

Misspellings . Nothing is more embarrassing than a misspelled title. There, at the top of the page in bold letters, you've used the word "it's" instead of "its ," or you wrote about "patients" instead of "patience." Take extra care to check the spelling of your essay title—and, indeed, your essay in general. An error in the title is sure to eliminate any confidence your reader has in your writing ability.

A Few Title Tips

Many writers—both novices and experts—have a difficult time coming up with a title that works well. Write your essay first and then, once your ideas have truly taken shape, go back and craft the title. Also, seek help with your title. A brainstorming session with friends can often generate far better titles than a solitary session of pounding your head on your keyboard. You want to get the title right so that the admissions officials read your essay in a curious and eager state of mind.

If you're writing your essay for the Common Application , keep in mind that your title will go in the text box with the rest of the essay, and the title will count toward your essay's overall word count.

  • Sample Common Application Essay for Option #5
  • "My Dads" - Sample Common Application Essay for Option #1
  • How to Write an Outstanding College Application Essay
  • Sample Application Essay - Porkopolis
  • Tips for the Pre-2013 Personal Essay Options on the Common Application
  • Tips for Writing a Winning College Application Essay
  • "Handiwork" - Sample Common Application Essay for Option #1
  • "Grandpa's Rubik's Cube"—Sample Common Application Essay, Option #4
  • Ideal College Application Essay Length
  • Bad Essay Topics for College Admissions
  • "Gym Class Hero" - a Common Application Essay Sample for Option #3
  • Private School Application Essay Tips
  • College Essay Style Tips
  • College Application Essay - The Job I Should Have Quit
  • Should an Application Essay Be Single-Spaced or Double-Spaced?
  • Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs

What is the format of a college application essay?

Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next. Read the instructions and prompt for more guidance.

Most online applications will include a text box for your essay. If you're attaching it as a document, however, be sure to use a standard, 12-point font and use 1.5-spaced or double-spaced lines, unless the application specifies different font and spacing.

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College Application Essay Format Rules

do i need a title for college essay

The college application essay has become the most important part of applying to college. In this article, we will go over the  best college essay format for getting into top schools, including how to structure the elements of a college admissions essay: margins, font, paragraphs, spacing, headers, and organization. 

We will focus on commonly asked questions about the best college essay structure. Finally, we will go over essay formatting tips and examples.

Table of Contents

  • General college essay formatting rules
  • How to format a college admissions essay
  • Sections of a college admissions essay
  • College application essay format examples

General College Essay Format Rules

Before talking about how to format your college admission essays, we need to talk about general college essay formatting rules.

Pay attention to word count

It has been well-established that the most important rule of college application essays is to  not go over the specific Application Essay word limit .  The word limit for the Common Application essay is typically 500-650 words.

Not only may it be impossible to go over the word count (in the case of the  Common Application essay , which uses text fields), but admissions officers often use software that will throw out any essay that breaks this rule. Following directions is a key indicator of being a successful student. 

Refocusing on the essay prompt and eliminating unnecessary adverbs, filler words, and prepositional phrases will help improve your essay.

On the other hand, it is advisable to use almost every available word. The college essay application field is very competitive, so leaving extra words on the table puts you at a disadvantage. Include an example or anecdote near the end of your essay to meet the total word count.

Do not write a wall of text: use paragraphs

Here is a brutal truth:  College admissions counselors only read the application essays that help them make a decision .  Otherwise, they will not read the essay at all. The problem is that you do not know whether the rest of your application (transcripts, academic record, awards, etc.) will be competitive enough to get you accepted.

A very simple writing rule for your application essay (and for essay editing of any type) is to  make your writing readable by adding line breaks and separate paragraphs.

Line breaks do not count toward word count, so they are a very easy way to organize your essay structure, ideas, and topics. Remember, college counselors, if you’re lucky, will spend 30 sec to 1 minute reading your essay. Give them every opportunity to understand your writing.

Do not include an essay title 

Unless specifically required, do not use a title for your personal statement or essay. This is a waste of your word limit and is redundant since the essay prompt itself serves as the title.

Never use overly casual, colloquial, or text message-based formatting like this: 

THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT!. #collegeapplication #collegeessay.

Under no circumstances should you use emojis, all caps, symbols, hashtags, or slang in a college essay. Although technology, texting, and social media are continuing to transform how we use modern language (what a great topic for a college application essay!), admissions officers will view the use of these casual formatting elements as immature and inappropriate for such an important document.

How To Format A College Application Essay

There are many  tips for writing college admissions essays . How you upload your college application essay depends on whether you will be cutting and pasting your essay into a text box in an online application form or attaching a formatted document.

Save and upload your college essay in the proper format

Check the application instructions if you’re not sure what you need to do. Currently, the Common Application requires you to copy and paste your essay into a text box.

There are three main formats when it comes to submitting your college essay or personal statement:

If submitting your application essay in a text box

For the Common Application, there is no need to attach a document since there is a dedicated input field. You still want to write your essay in a word processor or Google doc. Just make sure once you copy-paste your essay into the text box that your line breaks (paragraphs), indents, and formatting is retained. 

  • Formatting like  bold , underline, and  italics  are often lost when copy-pasting into a text box.
  • Double-check that you are under the word limit.  Word counts may be different within the text box .
  • Make sure that paragraphs and spacing are maintained;  text input fields often undo indents and double-spacing .
  • If possible, make sure the font is standardized.  Text input boxes usually allow just one font . 

If submitting your application essay as a document

When attaching a document, you must do more than just double-check the format of your admissions essay. You need to be proactive and make sure the structure is logical and will be attractive to readers.

Microsoft Word (.DOC) format

If you are submitting your application essay as a file upload, then you will likely submit a .doc or .docx file. The downside is that MS Word files are editable, and there are sometimes conflicts between different MS Word versions (2010 vs 2016 vs Office365). The upside is that Word can be opened by almost any text program.

This is a safe choice if maintaining the  visual  elements of your essay is important. Saving your essay as a PDF prevents any formatting issues that come with Microsoft Word, since older versions are sometimes incompatible with the newer formatting. 

Although PDF viewing programs are commonly available, many older readers and Internet users (who will be your admissions officers) may not be ready to view PDFs.

  • Use 1-inch margins . This is the default setting for Microsoft Word. However, students from Asia using programs like Hangul Word Processor will need to double-check.
  • Use a standard serif font.  These include Times New Roman, Courier, and Garamond. A serif font adds professionalism to your essay.
  • Use standard 12-font size. 
  • Use 1.5- or double-spacing.  Your application essay should be readable. Double spaces are not an issue as the essay should already fit on one page.
  • Add a Header  with your First Name, Last Name, university, and other required information.
  • Clearly   separate your paragraphs.  By default, just press ‘ENTER’ twice.

Sections Of A College Admissions Essay

University admissions protocols usually allow you to choose the format and style of your writing. Despite this, the general format of “Introduction-Body-Conclusion” is the most common structure. This is a common format you can use and adjust to your specific writing style.

College Application Essay Introduction

Typically, your first paragraph should introduce you or the topic that you will discuss. You must have a killer opener if you want the admissions committees to pay attention. 

Essays that use rhetorical tools, factual statements, dialog, etc. are encouraged. There is room to be creative since many application essays specifically focus on past learning experiences.

College Application Essay Body

Clearly answering the essay prompt is the most important part of the essay body. Keep reading over the prompt and making sure everything in the body supports it. 

Since personal statement essays are designed to show you are as a person and student, the essay body is also where you talk about your experiences and identity.

Make sure you include the following life experiences and how they relate to the essay prompt. Be sure to double-check that they relate back to the essay prompt. A college admissions essay is NOT an autobiography:

Personal challenges

  • How did you overcome them?
  • How or how much do past challenges define your current outlook or worldview? 
  • What did you learn about yourself when you failed?

Personal achievements and successes

  • What people helped you along the way?
  • What did you learn about the nature of success

Lessons learned

  • In general, did your experiences inform your choice of university or major?

Personal beliefs

  • Politics, philosophy, and religion may be included here, but be careful when discussing sensitive personal or political topics. 
  • Academic goals
  • Personal goals
  • Professional goals
  • How will attending the university help you achieve these goals?

College Application Essay Conclusion

The conclusion section is a call to action directly aimed at the admissions officers. You must demonstrate why you are a great fit for the university, which means you should refer to specific programs, majors, or professors that guided or inspired you. 

In this “why this school” part of the essay, you can also explain why the university is a great fit for  your  goals. Be straightforward and truthful, but express your interest in the school boldly.

common app essay format, essay sections 1

College Application Essay Format Examples

Here are several formatting examples of successful college admission essays, along with comments from the essay editor.

Note: Actual sample essays edited by  Wordvice professional editors .  Personal info has been redacted for privacy. This is not a college essay template.

College Admission Essay Example 1

This essay asks the student to write about how normal life experiences can have huge effects on personal growth:

Common App Essay Prompt: Thoughtful Rides

The Florida turnpike is a very redundant and plain expressway; we do not have the scenic luxury of mountains, forests, or even deserts stretching endlessly into the distance. Instead, we are blessed with repetitive fields of grazing cows and countless billboards advertising local businesses. I have been subjected to these monotonous views three times a week, driving two hours every other day to Sunrise and back to my house in Miami, Florida—all to practice for my competitive soccer team in hopes of receiving a scholarship to play soccer at the next level. 

The Introduction sets up a clear, visceral memory and communicates a key extracurricular activity. 

When I first began these mini road trips, I would jam out to my country playlist and sing along with my favorite artists, and the trek would seem relatively short. However, after listening to “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs for the 48th time in a week, the song became as repetitive as the landscape I was driving through. Changing genres did not help much either; everything I played seemed to morph into the same brain-numbing sound.  Eventually, I decided to do what many peers in my generation fail to do: turn off the distractions, enjoy the silence, and immerse myself in my own thoughts. In the end, this seemingly simple decision led to a lot of personal growth and tranquility in my life. 

The first part of the Body connects the student’s past experience with the essay prompt: personal growth and challenging assumptions.

Although I did not fully realize it at the time, these rides were the perfect opportunity to reflect on myself and the people around me. I quickly began noticing the different personalities surrounding me in the flow of traffic, and this simple act of noticing reminded me that I was not the only human on this planet that mattered. I was just as unimportant as the woman sitting in the car next to mine. Conversely, I also came to appreciate how a gesture as simple as letting another driver merge into your lane can impact a stranger’s day. Maybe the other driver is late for a work interview or rushing to the hospital because their newborn is running a high fever and by allowing them to advance in the row of cars, you made their day just a little less stressful. I realized that if I could improve someone else’s day from my car,  I could definitely be a kinder person and take other people’s situations into consideration—because you never know if someone is having one of the worst days of their lives and their interaction with you could provide the motivation they need to keep going on . 

This part uses two examples to support the writer’s answer to the essay prompt. It ends the paragraph with a clear statement.

Realizing I was not the only being in the universe that mattered was not the only insight I attained during these drives. Over and over, I asked myself why I had chosen to change soccer clubs, leaving Pinecrest, the team I had played on for 8 years with my best friends and that was only a 10-minute drive from my house, to play for a completely unfamiliar team that required significantly more travel.  Eventually, I came to understand that I truly enjoy challenging myself and pushing past complacency . One of my main goals in life is to play and experience college soccer—that, and to eventually pursue a career as a doctor. Ultimately, leaving my comfort zone in Pinecrest, where mediocrity was celebrated, to join a team in Sunrise, where championships were expected and college offers were abundant, was a very positive decision in my life. 

This part clearly tells how the experience shaped the writer as a person. The student’s personality can be directly attributed to this memory. It also importantly states personal and academic goals.

Even if I do not end up playing college soccer, I know now that I will never back down from any challenge in my life; I am committed to pushing myself past my comfort zone. These car rides have given me insight into how strong I truly am and how much impact I can have on other people’s lives. 

The Conclusion restates the overall lesson learned.

College Admission Essay Example 2

The next essay asks the reader to use leadership roles or extracurricular activities and describe the experience, contribution, and what the student learned about themselves.

As I release the air from the blood-pressure monitor’s valve, I carefully track the gauge, listening for the faint “lub-dub” of  Winnie’s heart. Checking off the “hypertensive” box on his medical chart when reading 150/95, I then escort Winnie to the blood sugar station. This was the typical procedure of a volunteer at the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic. Our traveling medical clinic operated at night, visiting various Connecticut farms to provide healthcare for migrant workers. Filling out charts, taking blood pressure, and recording BMI were all standard procedures, but the relationships I built with farmers such as Winnie impacted me the most.

This Introduction is very impactful. It highlights the student’s professional expertise as a healthcare worker and her impact on marginalized communities. It also is written in the present tense to add impact.

While the clinic was canceled this year due to COVID-19, I still wanted to do something for them. During a PPE-drive meeting this July, Winnie recounted his family history. I noticed his eyebrows furrow with anxiety as he spoke about his family’s safety in Tierra Blanca, Mexico. I realized that Winnie lacked substantial information about his hometown, and fear-mongering headlines did nothing to assuage his fears. After days of searching, I discovered that his hometown, Guanajuato, reported fewer cases of COVID-19 in comparison with surrounding towns. I then created a color-coded map of his town, showing rates across the different districts. Winnie’s eyes softened, marveling at the map I made for him this August. I didn’t need to explain what he saw: Guanajuato, his home state, was pale yellow, the color I chose to mark the lowest level of cases. By making this map, I didn’t intend to give him new hope; I wanted to show him where hope was.

The student continues to tell the powerful story of one of her patients. This humbles and empowers the student, motivating her in the next paragraph.

This interaction fueled my commitment to search for hope in my journey of becoming a public health official. Working in public health policy, I hope to tackle complex world problems, such as economic and social barriers to healthcare and find creative methods of improving outcomes in queer and Latinx communities. I want to study the present and potential future intervention strategies in minority communities for addressing language barriers to information including language on posters and gendered language, and for instituting social and support services for community youth. These stepping stones will hopefully prepare me for conducting professional research for the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement. I aspire to be an active proponent of healthcare access and equity for marginalized groups, including queer communities. I first learned about the importance of recognizing minority identities in healthcare through my bisexual sister, Sophie, and her nonbinary friend, Gilligan. During discussions with her friends, I realized the importance of validating diverse gender expressions in all facets of my life.

Here, the past experience is directly connected to future academic and professional goals, which themselves are motivated by a desire to increase access among communities as well as personal family experiences. This is a strong case for why personal identity is so important.

My experiences with Winnie and my sister have empowered me to be creative, thoughtful, and brave while challenging the assumptions currently embedded in the “visual vocabulary” of both the art and science fields. I envision myself deconstructing hegemonic ideas of masculinity and femininity and surmounting the limitations of traditional perceptions of male and female bodies as it relates to existing healthcare practices. Through these subtle changes, I aim to make a large impact.

The Conclusion positions the student as an impactful leader and visionary. This is a powerful case for the admissions board to consider.

If you want to read more college admissions essay examples, check out our articles about  successful college personal statements  and the  2021-2022 Common App prompts and example essays .

Wordvice offers a full suite of proofreading and editing services . If you are a student applying to college and are having trouble with the best college admissions essay format, check out our application essay editing services  (including personal statement editing ) and find out  how much online proofreading costs . 

Finally, don’t forget to receive common app essay editing and professional admissions editing for any other admissions documents for college, university, and post-doctoral programs.

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Do College Essays need Title? Tips how to Write Good Titles

Do College Essays need Title? Tips how to Write Good Titles

College Essays need Title

College Essays need Title

You are probably creating a college essay if you are reading this post. The question that lingers in many students’ minds is; do college essays need a title? The straight answer is it is not necessary, although a title is not a bad idea. 

Practically, a college essay needs a title to make it complete, give a hint on the topic you are writing, and arouses the interest of the reader.

do i need a title for college essay

The title of an essay is the fertile ground to capture the reader’s attention to showcase your writing and creative skills. Moreover, the title offers direction to your topic. Therefore, include it. 

Importance of a Title for College Essays

The title of your college essay is vital in that it can break or make the quality of your paper. The title gives the professor a hint of your topic and arouses the interest of the reader to know what the entire essay carries. 

Also, the first thing that the reader will behold is the title. In response, you must make it catchy to provoke the audience to read your content. You should use the right words for your work to be accurate. 

How to Craft a Good Title for Your College Essay

By crafting a good college essay title, you will be creating the identity for it. You should put some weight on it since readers will remember the essay by the given title. You should develop an engaging title by using the following tips. 

1. A Catchy Hook 

The right college essay title will reveal the topic and expose your approach and your area of discussion. The title should be independent, transparent, and self-explanatory. In addition, the title should be simple and purposeful. 

Crafting good essay Titles

You have a suitable hook as a creative element to draw your audience.

The hook should be a readable phrase, catchy, and advertise your paper’s subject.

The hook can still be a direct quotation from the text. Remember, you can even use a quote for an essay title if it is necessary.

Also, a hook can be an exciting element of your topic. A good college essay title should also contain key terms.

Such makes the essay to be more searchable in the database. Load the title with key terminology that to introduce the reader to the concepts of the topic. Never allow your title to look general since it will sound meaningless to the reader. 

2. Use your Thesis

You can leave a lasting title by using your thesis. The right title should propel one to read the entire paper. You should use the thesis statement to find a reason to make your audience curious about what you are talking about. You can either use the whole of your thesis statement or use a section of it in your title. 

The author should only use relevant words. For example, you can use two to three main words and put them together. Do not use jargon or other abbreviations when making a title. 

3. Keep it Simple and Short

The primary purpose of a title is to name the essay paper. One does not have to tell the whole story within the title or offer any useless details. The best deal is, to sum up, your paper using a few words. 

Make it original and unique by avoiding copying from others. You can only get inspiration from other authors and customize your own according to the needs of your essay. 

Mistakes to avoid when Creating a Title 

Mistakes when writing Titles

Vague Language

You should be precise by sticking to what you want to say.

The title should not carry any unnecessary words that harbor no meaning.

Ensure that you use words that add value to your essay title only. 

General Language 

Using broad and overly general language is a continuation of vague language problems. The title should not cover far too much. A title that is too long will make the reader begin to doubt the content even without going through it. 

Overblown Vocabulary

The best approach is to use clear and simple language. When you use heavy vocabulary to sound too intelligent, you will make the reading experience torturous. A simple title makes your college essay to be readable. 

Misspellings 

It will be so embarrassing if you misspell your title. Before you submit your paper, ensure you take your time to check for typos in the title and the whole essay. When the reader sees an error in the title, it makes one doubt your writing ability. 

Strained Cleverness 

Cleverness can be okay as long as the title does not sound ridiculous.  It is not automatic that some readers will understand the supposedly clever illusion.  The writer must be keen when depending on the wordplay in the title. 

Suppose your title has some clichés; it is a sure way of informing the reader that what you want to narrate is unreliable. Avoid making the initial impression to seem like you lacked nothing original to discuss. Once in that trap, stop and begin to re-evaluate your title. 

Characteristics of a Good Essay Title

A title is a suitable place where you give direction to allow the reader to know what is ahead. When you write a good title, you will be creating a solid essay outline. Here are some key qualities of a good college essay title:

good Essay Title features

True and Believable 

Let your essay title be factual. One of the mistakes that student makes is to make it catchy and cause it to dilute the truth.

As such, you will be making the headline to be inaccurate.

You will be creating a poor impression on your professor as long as your title does not deliver. 

The title should be short to enhance readability. Let the college essay title be brief since the long ones can procure confusion. You can achieve brevity by avoiding using a description in your title.

Ensure that the title does not sound too fluffy. If you are unable to write your college essay , feel free to ask for our essay writers to help you out.

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For your title to be compelling, then allow it to be neutral. It can be counter-productive if you begin to confront the reader with your radical opinion within the title.

The title does not have to be full sentences. Do you know a sentence will express a position or judgment?  You can also use queries. In fact, you can use questions in college essays and they will make perfect sense if well positioned.

The title should be a starting point for the reader to reconstruct the thought process based on the information given in it. 

It does not matter the niche. No one should write a title based on false accounts. From the onset, the title should be immediately understandable. As such, it will guide the reader to decide to proceed to read it or not. 

Suppose the title fails to orient the audience by not providing details explicitly, the chance of one to read through the essay is minimal. 

Attractive 

No one wants to read through a boring piece. For that reason, ensure your title is attractive. Use the phrases that will trigger the reader’s curiosity to discover what the main essay discusses. 

While writing a good title, do not exaggerate facts to cause unnecessary attention, making your work appear deceptive. You can use an exciting hook that is factual and accurate. It should be eye-catching and compelling. 

The right title should predict the content of your research.  The title should explain what the essay is all about without misleading or creating wrong expectations. It should not have anything that the audience will not get in the essay. 

The title acts as a summary of what you will be stating in the entire essay. As such, this title should only give a clue of what the reader should expect in the full context. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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College Essays

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If you grow up to be a professional writer, everything you write will first go through an editor before being published. This is because the process of writing is really a process of re-writing —of rethinking and reexamining your work, usually with the help of someone else. So what does this mean for your student writing? And in particular, what does it mean for very important, but nonprofessional writing like your college essay? Should you ask your parents to look at your essay? Pay for an essay service?

If you are wondering what kind of help you can, and should, get with your personal statement, you've come to the right place! In this article, I'll talk about what kind of writing help is useful, ethical, and even expected for your college admission essay . I'll also point out who would make a good editor, what the differences between editing and proofreading are, what to expect from a good editor, and how to spot and stay away from a bad one.

Table of Contents

What Kind of Help for Your Essay Can You Get?

What's Good Editing?

What should an editor do for you, what kind of editing should you avoid, proofreading, what's good proofreading, what kind of proofreading should you avoid.

What Do Colleges Think Of You Getting Help With Your Essay?

Who Can/Should Help You?

Advice for editors.

Should You Pay Money For Essay Editing?

The Bottom Line

What's next, what kind of help with your essay can you get.

Rather than talking in general terms about "help," let's first clarify the two different ways that someone else can improve your writing . There is editing, which is the more intensive kind of assistance that you can use throughout the whole process. And then there's proofreading, which is the last step of really polishing your final product.

Let me go into some more detail about editing and proofreading, and then explain how good editors and proofreaders can help you."

Editing is helping the author (in this case, you) go from a rough draft to a finished work . Editing is the process of asking questions about what you're saying, how you're saying it, and how you're organizing your ideas. But not all editing is good editing . In fact, it's very easy for an editor to cross the line from supportive to overbearing and over-involved.

Ability to clarify assignments. A good editor is usually a good writer, and certainly has to be a good reader. For example, in this case, a good editor should make sure you understand the actual essay prompt you're supposed to be answering.

Open-endedness. Good editing is all about asking questions about your ideas and work, but without providing answers. It's about letting you stick to your story and message, and doesn't alter your point of view.

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Think of an editor as a great travel guide. It can show you the many different places your trip could take you. It should explain any parts of the trip that could derail your trip or confuse the traveler. But it never dictates your path, never forces you to go somewhere you don't want to go, and never ignores your interests so that the trip no longer seems like it's your own. So what should good editors do?

Help Brainstorm Topics

Sometimes it's easier to bounce thoughts off of someone else. This doesn't mean that your editor gets to come up with ideas, but they can certainly respond to the various topic options you've come up with. This way, you're less likely to write about the most boring of your ideas, or to write about something that isn't actually important to you.

If you're wondering how to come up with options for your editor to consider, check out our guide to brainstorming topics for your college essay .

Help Revise Your Drafts

Here, your editor can't upset the delicate balance of not intervening too much or too little. It's tricky, but a great way to think about it is to remember: editing is about asking questions, not giving answers .

Revision questions should point out:

  • Places where more detail or more description would help the reader connect with your essay
  • Places where structure and logic don't flow, losing the reader's attention
  • Places where there aren't transitions between paragraphs, confusing the reader
  • Moments where your narrative or the arguments you're making are unclear

But pointing to potential problems is not the same as actually rewriting—editors let authors fix the problems themselves.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Bad editing is usually very heavy-handed editing. Instead of helping you find your best voice and ideas, a bad editor changes your writing into their own vision.

You may be dealing with a bad editor if they:

  • Add material (examples, descriptions) that doesn't come from you
  • Use a thesaurus to make your college essay sound "more mature"
  • Add meaning or insight to the essay that doesn't come from you
  • Tell you what to say and how to say it
  • Write sentences, phrases, and paragraphs for you
  • Change your voice in the essay so it no longer sounds like it was written by a teenager

Colleges can tell the difference between a 17-year-old's writing and a 50-year-old's writing. Not only that, they have access to your SAT or ACT Writing section, so they can compare your essay to something else you wrote. Writing that's a little more polished is great and expected. But a totally different voice and style will raise questions.

Where's the Line Between Helpful Editing and Unethical Over-Editing?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether your college essay editor is doing the right thing. Here are some guidelines for staying on the ethical side of the line.

  • An editor should say that the opening paragraph is kind of boring, and explain what exactly is making it drag. But it's overstepping for an editor to tell you exactly how to change it.
  • An editor should point out where your prose is unclear or vague. But it's completely inappropriate for the editor to rewrite that section of your essay.
  • An editor should let you know that a section is light on detail or description. But giving you similes and metaphors to beef up that description is a no-go.

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Proofreading (also called copy-editing) is checking for errors in the last draft of a written work. It happens at the end of the process and is meant as the final polishing touch. Proofreading is meticulous and detail-oriented, focusing on small corrections. It sands off all the surface rough spots that could alienate the reader.

Because proofreading is usually concerned with making fixes on the word or sentence level, this is the only process where someone else can actually add to or take away things from your essay . This is because what they are adding or taking away tends to be one or two misplaced letters.

Laser focus. Proofreading is all about the tiny details, so the ability to really concentrate on finding small slip-ups is a must.

Excellent grammar and spelling skills. Proofreaders need to dot every "i" and cross every "t." Good proofreaders should correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. They should put foreign words in italics and surround quotations with quotation marks. They should check that you used the correct college's name, and that you adhered to any formatting requirements (name and date at the top of the page, uniform font and size, uniform spacing).

Limited interference. A proofreader needs to make sure that you followed any word limits. But if cuts need to be made to shorten the essay, that's your job and not the proofreader's.

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A bad proofreader either tries to turn into an editor, or just lacks the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job.

Some signs that you're working with a bad proofreader are:

  • If they suggest making major changes to the final draft of your essay. Proofreading happens when editing is already finished.
  • If they aren't particularly good at spelling, or don't know grammar, or aren't detail-oriented enough to find someone else's small mistakes.
  • If they start swapping out your words for fancier-sounding synonyms, or changing the voice and sound of your essay in other ways. A proofreader is there to check for errors, not to take the 17-year-old out of your writing.

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What Do Colleges Think of Your Getting Help With Your Essay?

Admissions officers agree: light editing and proofreading are good—even required ! But they also want to make sure you're the one doing the work on your essay. They want essays with stories, voice, and themes that come from you. They want to see work that reflects your actual writing ability, and that focuses on what you find important.

On the Importance of Editing

Get feedback. Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don't allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others' edits and opinions when they seem helpful. ( Bates College )

Read your essay aloud to someone. Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head. This exercise reveals flaws in the essay's flow, highlights grammatical errors and helps you ensure that you are communicating the exact message you intended. ( Dickinson College )

On the Value of Proofreading

Share your essays with at least one or two people who know you well—such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend—and ask for feedback. Remember that you ultimately have control over your essays, and your essays should retain your own voice, but others may be able to catch mistakes that you missed and help suggest areas to cut if you are over the word limit. ( Yale University )

Proofread and then ask someone else to proofread for you. Although we want substance, we also want to be able to see that you can write a paper for our professors and avoid careless mistakes that would drive them crazy. ( Oberlin College )

On Watching Out for Too Much Outside Influence

Limit the number of people who review your essay. Too much input usually means your voice is lost in the writing style. ( Carleton College )

Ask for input (but not too much). Your parents, friends, guidance counselors, coaches, and teachers are great people to bounce ideas off of for your essay. They know how unique and spectacular you are, and they can help you decide how to articulate it. Keep in mind, however, that a 45-year-old lawyer writes quite differently from an 18-year-old student, so if your dad ends up writing the bulk of your essay, we're probably going to notice. ( Vanderbilt University )

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Now let's talk about some potential people to approach for your college essay editing and proofreading needs. It's best to start close to home and slowly expand outward. Not only are your family and friends more invested in your success than strangers, but they also have a better handle on your interests and personality. This knowledge is key for judging whether your essay is expressing your true self.

Parents or Close Relatives

Your family may be full of potentially excellent editors! Parents are deeply committed to your well-being, and family members know you and your life well enough to offer details or incidents that can be included in your essay. On the other hand, the rewriting process necessarily involves criticism, which is sometimes hard to hear from someone very close to you.

A parent or close family member is a great choice for an editor if you can answer "yes" to the following questions. Is your parent or close relative a good writer or reader? Do you have a relationship where editing your essay won't create conflict? Are you able to constructively listen to criticism and suggestion from the parent?

One suggestion for defusing face-to-face discussions is to try working on the essay over email. Send your parent a draft, have them write you back some comments, and then you can pick which of their suggestions you want to use and which to discard.

Teachers or Tutors

A humanities teacher that you have a good relationship with is a great choice. I am purposefully saying humanities, and not just English, because teachers of Philosophy, History, Anthropology, and any other classes where you do a lot of writing, are all used to reviewing student work.

Moreover, any teacher or tutor that has been working with you for some time, knows you very well and can vet the essay to make sure it "sounds like you."

If your teacher or tutor has some experience with what college essays are supposed to be like, ask them to be your editor. If not, then ask whether they have time to proofread your final draft.

Guidance or College Counselor at Your School

The best thing about asking your counselor to edit your work is that this is their job. This means that they have a very good sense of what colleges are looking for in an application essay.

At the same time, school counselors tend to have relationships with admissions officers in many colleges, which again gives them insight into what works and which college is focused on what aspect of the application.

Unfortunately, in many schools the guidance counselor tends to be way overextended. If your ratio is 300 students to 1 college counselor, you're unlikely to get that person's undivided attention and focus. It is still useful to ask them for general advice about your potential topics, but don't expect them to be able to stay with your essay from first draft to final version.

Friends, Siblings, or Classmates

Although they most likely don't have much experience with what colleges are hoping to see, your peers are excellent sources for checking that your essay is you .

Friends and siblings are perfect for the read-aloud edit. Read your essay to them so they can listen for words and phrases that are stilted, pompous, or phrases that just don't sound like you.

You can even trade essays and give helpful advice on each other's work.

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If your editor hasn't worked with college admissions essays very much, no worries! Any astute and attentive reader can still greatly help with your process. But, as in all things, beginners do better with some preparation.

First, your editor should read our advice about how to write a college essay introduction , how to spot and fix a bad college essay , and get a sense of what other students have written by going through some admissions essays that worked .

Then, as they read your essay, they can work through the following series of questions that will help them to guide you.

Introduction Questions

  • Is the first sentence a killer opening line? Why or why not?
  • Does the introduction hook the reader? Does it have a colorful, detailed, and interesting narrative? Or does it propose a compelling or surprising idea?
  • Can you feel the author's voice in the introduction, or is the tone dry, dull, or overly formal? Show the places where the voice comes through.

Essay Body Questions

  • Does the essay have a through-line? Is it built around a central argument, thought, idea, or focus? Can you put this idea into your own words?
  • How is the essay organized? By logical progression? Chronologically? Do you feel order when you read it, or are there moments where you are confused or lose the thread of the essay?
  • Does the essay have both narratives about the author's life and explanations and insight into what these stories reveal about the author's character, personality, goals, or dreams? If not, which is missing?
  • Does the essay flow? Are there smooth transitions/clever links between paragraphs? Between the narrative and moments of insight?

Reader Response Questions

  • Does the writer's personality come through? Do we know what the speaker cares about? Do we get a sense of "who he or she is"?
  • Where did you feel most connected to the essay? Which parts of the essay gave you a "you are there" sensation by invoking your senses? What moments could you picture in your head well?
  • Where are the details and examples vague and not specific enough?
  • Did you get an "a-ha!" feeling anywhere in the essay? Is there a moment of insight that connected all the dots for you? Is there a good reveal or "twist" anywhere in the essay?
  • What are the strengths of this essay? What needs the most improvement?

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Should You Pay Money for Essay Editing?

One alternative to asking someone you know to help you with your college essay is the paid editor route. There are two different ways to pay for essay help: a private essay coach or a less personal editing service , like the many proliferating on the internet.

My advice is to think of these options as a last resort rather than your go-to first choice. I'll first go through the reasons why. Then, if you do decide to go with a paid editor, I'll help you decide between a coach and a service.

When to Consider a Paid Editor

In general, I think hiring someone to work on your essay makes a lot of sense if none of the people I discussed above are a possibility for you.

If you can't ask your parents. For example, if your parents aren't good writers, or if English isn't their first language. Or if you think getting your parents to help is going create unnecessary extra conflict in your relationship with them (applying to college is stressful as it is!)

If you can't ask your teacher or tutor. Maybe you don't have a trusted teacher or tutor that has time to look over your essay with focus. Or, for instance, your favorite humanities teacher has very limited experience with college essays and so won't know what admissions officers want to see.

If you can't ask your guidance counselor. This could be because your guidance counselor is way overwhelmed with other students.

If you can't share your essay with those who know you. It might be that your essay is on a very personal topic that you're unwilling to share with parents, teachers, or peers. Just make sure it doesn't fall into one of the bad-idea topics in our article on bad college essays .

If the cost isn't a consideration. Many of these services are quite expensive, and private coaches even more so. If you have finite resources, I'd say that hiring an SAT or ACT tutor (whether it's PrepScholar or someone else) is better way to spend your money . This is because there's no guarantee that a slightly better essay will sufficiently elevate the rest of your application, but a significantly higher SAT score will definitely raise your applicant profile much more.

Should You Hire an Essay Coach?

On the plus side, essay coaches have read dozens or even hundreds of college essays, so they have experience with the format. Also, because you'll be working closely with a specific person, it's more personal than sending your essay to a service, which will know even less about you.

But, on the minus side, you'll still be bouncing ideas off of someone who doesn't know that much about you . In general, if you can adequately get the help from someone you know, there is no advantage to paying someone to help you.

If you do decide to hire a coach, ask your school counselor, or older students that have used the service for recommendations. If you can't afford the coach's fees, ask whether they can work on a sliding scale —many do. And finally, beware those who guarantee admission to your school of choice—essay coaches don't have any special magic that can back up those promises.

Should You Send Your Essay to a Service?

On the plus side, essay editing services provide a similar product to essay coaches, and they cost significantly less . If you have some assurance that you'll be working with a good editor, the lack of face-to-face interaction won't prevent great results.

On the minus side, however, it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the service before working with them . If they are churning through many application essays without getting to know the students they are helping, you could end up with an over-edited essay that sounds just like everyone else's. In the worst case scenario, an unscrupulous service could send you back a plagiarized essay.

Getting recommendations from friends or a school counselor for reputable services is key to avoiding heavy-handed editing that writes essays for you or does too much to change your essay. Including a badly-edited essay like this in your application could cause problems if there are inconsistencies. For example, in interviews it might be clear you didn't write the essay, or the skill of the essay might not be reflected in your schoolwork and test scores.

Should You Buy an Essay Written by Someone Else?

Let me elaborate. There are super sketchy places on the internet where you can simply buy a pre-written essay. Don't do this!

For one thing, you'll be lying on an official, signed document. All college applications make you sign a statement saying something like this:

I certify that all information submitted in the admission process—including the application, the personal essay, any supplements, and any other supporting materials—is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented... I understand that I may be subject to a range of possible disciplinary actions, including admission revocation, expulsion, or revocation of course credit, grades, and degree, should the information I have certified be false. (From the Common Application )

For another thing, if your academic record doesn't match the essay's quality, the admissions officer will start thinking your whole application is riddled with lies.

Admission officers have full access to your writing portion of the SAT or ACT so that they can compare work that was done in proctored conditions with that done at home. They can tell if these were written by different people. Not only that, but there are now a number of search engines that faculty and admission officers can use to see if an essay contains strings of words that have appeared in other essays—you have no guarantee that the essay you bought wasn't also bought by 50 other students.

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  • You should get college essay help with both editing and proofreading
  • A good editor will ask questions about your idea, logic, and structure, and will point out places where clarity is needed
  • A good editor will absolutely not answer these questions, give you their own ideas, or write the essay or parts of the essay for you
  • A good proofreader will find typos and check your formatting
  • All of them agree that getting light editing and proofreading is necessary
  • Parents, teachers, guidance or college counselor, and peers or siblings
  • If you can't ask any of those, you can pay for college essay help, but watch out for services or coaches who over-edit you work
  • Don't buy a pre-written essay! Colleges can tell, and it'll make your whole application sound false.

Ready to start working on your essay? Check out our explanation of the point of the personal essay and the role it plays on your applications and then explore our step-by-step guide to writing a great college essay .

Using the Common Application for your college applications? We have an excellent guide to the Common App essay prompts and useful advice on how to pick the Common App prompt that's right for you . Wondering how other people tackled these prompts? Then work through our roundup of over 130 real college essay examples published by colleges .

Stressed about whether to take the SAT again before submitting your application? Let us help you decide how many times to take this test . If you choose to go for it, we have the ultimate guide to studying for the SAT to give you the ins and outs of the best ways to study.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Should I include a title on my common app essay? Answered

I'm am writing one of my essays for the common app and I don't know if it needs to have a title.

Earn karma by helping others:

Although I am not an expert, from what I've seen, I would suggest not to put an essay. The admissions officers will already know the prompt so they would know what the essay is about and also the title will count towards the overall length and word count of the essay. Once you finish it and you still have enough space to put in a title without making your essay too lengthy, then it is up to you whether to put one or not.

^ All articles I’ve read said not to put a essay title even if it isn’t common app essay.

Hey @corryn , this is a great question and one we've been seeing a lot of lately. While it comes down to personal preference and what you're hoping to accomplish by including a title I would agree with @francisco and suggest you do not include one on the common app essay.

For one, as @francisco mentioned, the title would count towards your total word count for the essay. In most instances you're going to get a greater benefit from using the few words you would have used on your title in the body of your essay. You only have 650 words for your essay and, while it might not seem like much, those 4-10 words you might use for a title most likely can be used to add details to your story. In addition, you'd want to ensure your title doesn't mess up with the formatting of your essay. Nothing would be worse than including a title on your essay only to have it messing up the formatting and limiting your chances of acceptance.

Also, an admissions officer will be reading your essay regardless of if you have a title or not. Chances are your title won't be some eye-catching thing that makes the admission officer that much more interested in your essay. That should be coming from your essay itself. Even with the most catchy title it won't make up for a poorly written essay. Overall, the benefits of a title don't really outweigh the negatives in my personal opinion.

Now, having said all that, if you are set on adding a title to your essay I would recommend writing your complete essay first. A title isn't important enough for you to be stressing out over. Write your essay, edit your drafts, revise, and keep going until your essay is complete and you are 100% satisfied. After that you can see how much space you have left and consider adding a title. In the right situations, it's entirely possible a short, concise title, maybe one with some humor included, can work. Maybe something poking fun at pop culture or current events could work. But only add one if it actually ADDS to your essay. Don't have one just to have one. I definitely would avoid generic titles (Things That Matter to Me) or very general ones (My Life Story). Hope this helps and I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions!

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  1. How to Format a College Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

    Should I title my college essay? You don't need one. In the vast majority of cases, students we work with don't use titles. The handful of times they have, they've done so because the title allows for a subtle play on words or reframing of the essay as a whole. So don't feel any pressure to include one—they're purely optional.

  2. Should I title my college essay?

    Too negative (e.g. an in-depth look at your flaws, put-downs of others, criticizing the need for a college essay) Too boring (e.g. a resume of your academic achievements and extracurriculars) Inappropriate for a college essay (e.g. illegal activities, offensive humor, false accounts of yourself, bragging about privilege)

  3. How to Title an Essay: Tips and Examples

    The main goal of a title is to name its paper. There is no need to tell an entire story in the title, or provide any useless details. Sum up your paper in a few words! Another way to do this is to sum up your thesis statement, as it represents the main idea of your essay. Take your thesis and squeeze it into 3-4 words.

  4. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

    Sample College Essay 2 with Feedback. This content is licensed by Khan Academy and is available for free at www.khanacademy.org. College essays are an important part of your college application and give you the chance to show colleges and universities your personality. This guide will give you tips on how to write an effective college essay.

  5. How to Format and Structure Your College Essay

    1. In-the-moment narrative. This is where you tell the story one moment at a time, sharing the events as they occur. In the moment narrative is a powerful essay format, as your reader experiences the events, your thoughts, and your emotions with you. This structure is ideal for a specific experience involving extensive internal dialogue ...

  6. Forging good titles in academic writing

    In an academic essay, you can use highly technical terms in your title, but generally avoid terms that the average well-read person in your discipline might not know. In any writing that has a broad audience, titles need to avoid language that is too sophisticated; a news article, for example, should be easily understood by all.

  7. Should I give my college essay a title, or is it unnecessary?

    It's natural to wonder whether a title adds to the impact of your college essay. In my experience, a title is not required and typically, admissions officers do not expect one. However, if you feel a brief, captivating title contributes to your essay and serves as a thematic entry point, it could be a tasteful addition. Remember, the most crucial aspect is the content and the story you're ...

  8. How to Write a College Essay

    Making an all-state team → outstanding achievement. Making an all-state team → counting the cost of saying "no" to other interests. Making a friend out of an enemy → finding common ground, forgiveness. Making a friend out of an enemy → confront toxic thinking and behavior in yourself.

  9. How to title a college essay?

    4. Get personal: If your essay is about a personal experience, try to hint at that experience in the title. It can give the reader a glimpse into your essay, which can make them more eager to read it. For example, if your essay is about learning to play the piano, you might choose a title like "Finding Harmony on the Keys." 5.

  10. College Essay Titles: Are They Important?

    The most important part of a college essay is the essay itself. Your essay should be personal, insightful, creative, and meticulously proofread. They do not need to be titled. However, this doesn't mean that a title is a bad idea. A title for your college essay falls under the "nice to have" category. A title isn't something that an ...

  11. How to Format A College Essay: 15 Expert Tips

    Clearly delineate your paragraphs. A single tab at the beginning is fine. Use a font that's easy to read, like Times, Arial, Calibri, Cambria, etc. Avoid fonts like Papyrus and Curlz. And use 12 pt font. You may want to include a college essay heading with a page number and your application ID.

  12. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    with a strong analytical question that you will try to answer in your essay. Your answer to that question will be your essay's thesis. You may have many questions as you consider a source or set of sources, but not all of your questions will form the basis of a strong essay. For example, your initial questions

  13. Does a college essay need a title?

    Hi there! It's great to hear that you've finished writing your college essay—congratulations! As for your question, it really comes down to personal preference. Some students choose to add a title to their essay, while others leave it without one. A well-crafted title can help grab the reader's attention and set the tone for your essay.

  14. How to Write a Great College Application Essay Title

    A well-crafted title should: Grab your reader's attention. Make your reader want to read your essay. Provide a sense of what your essay is about. Read More. Tips for Writing a Winning College Application Essay. By Allen Grove. When it comes to the third item, realize that you don't need to be too detailed.

  15. What is the format of a college application essay?

    Top. Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next.

  16. College Application Essay Format Rules

    The college application essay has become the most important part of applying to college. In this article, we will go over the best college essay format for getting into top schools, including how to structure the elements of a college admissions essay: margins, font, paragraphs, spacing, headers, and organization.. We will focus on commonly asked questions about the best college essay structure.

  17. Do College Essays need Title? Tips how to Write Good Titles

    You should develop an engaging title by using the following tips. 1. A Catchy Hook. The right college essay title will reveal the topic and expose your approach and your area of discussion. The title should be independent, transparent, and self-explanatory. In addition, the title should be simple and purposeful.

  18. Should I give my college essay a title?

    Hey there! It's great that you're putting thought into your college essay. When it comes to adding a title, it's really up to you and your personal preference. Some students choose to include a title to provide context or to pique the reader's interest, while others feel that their essay content can stand on its own without one. What's most important is that your essay is engaging, well ...

  19. Getting College Essay Help: Important Do's and Don'ts

    Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Don't allow someone else to rewrite your essay, but do take advantage of others' edits and opinions when they seem helpful. ( Bates College) Read your essay aloud to someone. Reading the essay out loud offers a chance to hear how your essay sounds outside your head.

  20. Do I need a title for my college application essay?

    Hey there! It's great to hear that you're in the final stages of polishing your essay. The big question about titles for college essays is one I hear often. My advice? Titles are not a requirement when you submit your college application essays. That being said, a well-chosen title can add a touch of personality and can serve as a hook to intrigue the reader.

  21. Do you need a title for Common App essay? : r/ApplyingToCollege

    Here's my copy pasta about the personal essay: Here's the deal about the personal essay. It has to be just that — super, incredibly, deeply personal. The essay needs to be about inner you — the you they can't get to know anywhere else in your application. The mechanism you use to get that message across the page isn't that important.

  22. Should I include a title on my common app essay?

    While it comes down to personal preference and what you're hoping to accomplish by including a title I would agree with @francisco and suggest you do not include one on the common app essay. For one, as @francisco mentioned, the title would count towards your total word count for the essay. In most instances you're going to get a greater ...