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How to Write the Winning College Entrance Essay: Tips from the FedEx Design Team

June 21, 2013

The Global Citizenship team has supported the Memphis Challenge program for several years through charitable giving. Team members used their knowledge and skills as writers to assist Memphis-area high school seniors who are a part of this program. Informally known as the “FedEx Design Team,” those team members have conducted an annual workshop since 2007 on “How to Write the Winning College Entrance Essay.”

During the workshop, students learn techniques to effectively tell their own story and win the attention and admiration of college admissions counselors.  Following the workshop, the students send their essays to FedEx Communication team members for review and feedback.

Over 17 FedEx Communicators used their writing expertise to edit Memphis Challenge high school seniors college entry essays. We had the opportunity to edit a total of 33 college entry essays.

Some of the team’s tips for writing a college entrance essay:
·         Answer the question;
·         Write about something that interests or inspires you;
·         Everything in your essay should say something about you and your personal situation;
·         Be original;
·         Make your essay meaningful, clear, and specific;
·         Do not be artificial – Do not try to show off your vocabulary by using big words;
·         Leave a good final impression;

As a result of the workshops, one hundred percent of the students FedEx has assisted have been accepted into college. They are enrolled at MIT, Harvard, the University of Tennessee, the U.S. Naval Academy, Morehouse College, Howard University, Christian Brothers University, Auburn University, Vanderbilt University, Columbia University, and many others.  

The Global Citizenship team provides contribution support to Memphis Challenge, a non-profit organization that coaches high-achieving, under-served students in areas such as leadership and professional development. We now have an opportunity to use our collective writing and editing skills to support a wonderful community outreach effort. 

A couple of notes from participants:

Paige Jones, Memphis Challenge Senior, White Station H.S


The FedEx Design team serving as Memphis Challenge workshop leaders was quite beneficial to me. My number one school is Vanderbilt University, so I knew I had to step up my game in order to be competitive. I am not the best writer in the world and I knew I needed help with getting my ideas on paper in a way that is formal yet friendly. The ideas aren’t the problem; it’s how to implement those ideas that had me stumped.

The FedEx  Design team really helped me see mistakes that my advisors may have missed. Ms. Jackson encouraged us to have multiple people read our essay because different people see different things. I must say, as an honor student and a senior, it is really hard for me to accept  suggestions/edits. I am afraid that my voice will be lost in all the opinions of others. The Fed Ex team ensured my voice could be heard clearly.  I am very grateful to have had my essay edited by professionals and it would be even better if they could edit the three scholarship essays that I am currently working on. 

Torrian Robertson, Senior Memphis Business Academy

I got off to a rocky start when I began to write my personal statement. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but had no idea of how to say it. I was so conscious of what the admission counselors might want to hear that I lost sight of what I wanted to say. I pulled through however, and created a first draft for my essay. The advice from the FedEx team made me confident in the content of my essay.  In particular, I appreciated the stories given by the panel. Each of them shared the same terrors that I experienced when they had to sit down and write the story of their life. I learned that it is crucial that we make our essays rise from the bottom stack to the top. When it rises to the top, our job is to leave a lasting impression by making our essays authentic. The future is ours to create. We should create it with our essay.   Thank you Memphis Challenge, thank you FedEx!



    Rakesh says:


    Candace Ashir says:

    This is my second year participating in the essay editing portion of the program As a FedEx employee! As such, I’m thrilled to learn of these great results! As a former Memphis Challenge student, I applaud FedEx for their constant commitment to these students and their growth!

    Kelvin Golden says:

    This is awesome, keep up the great work. This is a nice meaningful program for enhancing the writing skills and abilities for these students.

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