Do College Essays have to be Formal?

To know about did college essays have to be formal…read on this article…!

The question of whether a college essays should be formal is something college students, particularly those in their freshman year, may have an issue with. This article provides answers to this question and gives detailed guides that demonstrate how a college essay should be written.

Do college essays have to be formal?

A college essay is fundamentally different from other kinds of writing, hence, the approach and style should reflect this difference. A college essay should be written with a perfect blend of formal and informal elements of writing. As much as a college essay should be far from being colloquial, its formality should not nullify the use of informal signatures that make a write-up interesting. The major necessity required in college essays is the presence of qualities like authenticity, correctness, and readability. 

Do College Essays have to be Formal?

How can authenticity, correctness, and readability be achieved in your college essay? Let’s examine that below, shall we?

  • Be creative
  • Make your ideas engaging
  • Choose the appropriate vocabulary
  • Pay attention to grammar

 Be Creative

Creativity is perhaps the most essential factor when it comes to any kind of essay writing. Creativity is how you own your writing and make it stand out. Most college essays tend to be topical, and as such demand that you discuss your perspective on certain themes. An average essay may present an idea without any perspective or argument, ultimately allowing zero creativity from the writer/student. However, an impressive essay shows the perspective of the writer, hence, giving them space to express their points in their original ways. Therefore, at that point, the originality of your ideas leads to creativity in your essay.

Make your ideas engaging

It is one thing to be creative, and it is another to ensure that your creativity is engaging and captivating to the reader. Your creative ideas and points can only be engaging in this way when they are well organized. This is to say that to engage your reader, you must prioritize structure when writing your essay. Structure demands that every piece of writing coheres with one another. That is, words must agree and flow well together to form sentences, and sentences must follow through a similar process to creating well-balanced paragraphs. This way, the entire essay is well put together such that the reader will not get lost while going through your work. Making your essay engaging is very important because it attracts the attention and curiosity of your reader right from the beginning of the essay to the end.

Choose the appropriate vocabulary

Usage of appropriate vocabulary is yet another vital factor, as it plays a (somewhat) central role in determining the formality or informality of an essay. The essay standard for most universities requires that you use the appropriate diction where necessary, and that may translate to the

exclusion of colloquial expressions and wordings. Some of the best essays, however, are not determined by this rubric. What matters is in the selection of accurate diction to convey your intended meaning. Whether your expression is colloquial or not comes after. An examiner impressed by the sophistication of your essay will most likely pay little or no attention to the

intermittent usage of vernacular. 

Another important thing to note here is using simple and easy-to-understand vocabulary. Most students tend to want to impress their examiners by using flowery words but end up passing across ambiguous meanings. Rather than using big and complicated vocabulary, you should use simple words. Simplicity does not make your essay look bad; on the contrary, simplicity gives your essay a fitting shape!

Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation

This is the final factor on the list, and it does quite some telling on the intelligibility of your essay. This is where the examiner discovers how intact your mastery of the rules that govern language is. That said, your essay must adhere to the principles of the grammar of the language you are writing the essay with. Accordingly, all words must be spelled appropriately and used in the right context. In a similar sense, your essay must be well punctuated. You may also want to reduce your usage of contractions to at least give the examiner the impression that you are aware of punctuation use, as regards the frequency of contractions in the essay. In all, to ensure an accurate check on the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of your essay, it is necessary to proofread. Proofreading allows you to review everything you have written, inspect for possible errors and inconsistencies, and finally apply corrections where necessary.  


College essays are mostly about formal subjects; and to effectively write about these subjects in an academic manner, a formal approach must be utilized. However, college essays should not be formal — a colloquial tone may be necessary to lighten the mood of your essay and make it engaging. As a college student, your essays should be able to combine academic and casual writing idiosyncrasies to create a well-polished hybrid piece. The above-listed points are methods to achieve this, for your essay to be read and understood both by educators in college settings and also by average individuals living outside college. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How formal should college essays be?

College essays should be as formal as necessary; hence, the writing technique employed should not be too complex but instead very comprehensible.

  • What are the formal elements that should be implemented in writing college essays? 

Academic terms and theories should be used when necessary in an essay and usage should appear academic even if informal elements will be implemented.

  • How can I make my college essay engaging?

You can make a college essay engaging by being creative with words and structure, particularly in the representation of your ideas and points. All of this will determine how engaging your essay would be to the reader.   

  • Should I personalize my college essay?