The Complete Guide to College Essays


The Complete Guide to College Essays is a comprehensive handbook on crafting outstanding college application essays. An edited collection of articles and worksheets written by current students at colleges like the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and the University of California, Los Angeles, this book guides students through writing each kind of essay that they may encounter in the application process from the Common App personal statement to school-specific supplements. Writing application essays can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be with The Complete Guide to College Essays.

I think what makes this essay guide distinguished from the other available guides is that it’s actually not boring to read and has worksheets for most of the essay tips so you can practice them yourself. It’s full of really niche college essay tips, but doesn’t come across as super academic — one of the most playful, witty, and yet thought provoking guidebooks.
Kesav Kosana

A bit more about the book

The book includes four chapters and twenty eight articles and worksheets that will take students from brainstorming ideas, writing creatively, and editing efficiently. After Dewey Smart was founded in 2018, each counselor came up with their own unique counseling approaches. This book is a collection of each counselor’s unique insights and strategies to form a complete and comprehensive view of how to write successful college essays. For a preview, here’s a table of contents:

1 | The Personal Statement and You 

  • What Makes a Good Essay?
  • Deep Questions Worksheet
  • Connect the Application Together
  • Personal Values Brainstorm
  • Extracurricular Connection Worksheet
  • Interrogating Your Extracurriculars and Experience
  • Challenges Worksheet
  • Timeline Worksheet
  • Choosing a Theme

2 | Writing the Personal Statement

  • Choosing a Theme
  • In Medias Res
  • Personal Growth
  • Show, Don’t Tell
  • Story, Lesson Structure
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Montage Structure
  • Parallel and Ring Structure
  • Dialogue
  • Rhythm or Cadence
  • Conclusions

3 | Editing, Revising, and Example Personal Statements

  • How to Edit and Revise
  • Sticking to Your Theme
  • “Essays That Worked” Analyses

4 | Supplemental Essays

  • How to Write the “Why X College?” Supplemental Essay
  • How to Write the “Why X Major?” Supplemental Essay
  • How to Write a Supplemental Essay on an Extracurricular Activity
  • How to Write Short Answer Question Supplemental Essays
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