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How To Tackle The College Essay

Alrighty, now that you have finally accepted you have to start the college process, it’s time to start that essay that you have heard so much about. Trust me when I say that the process of writing isn’t that bad if you speak from the heart.  There are seven different prompts (which can be found here), and the seventh prompt is a free-range prompt, meaning that you can submit any essay of yours.

I personally love this part of the application process because it gives you a space to add your voice in your application, and it gives you an opportunity to stand out.  When an application is submitted, the general questions that everyone has to answer become mundane and not so interesting, but the essay gives you an opportunity to tell your story. I am a big believer that everyone has a story that needs to be shared.

Anyways, opinions aside, here are my best tips to craft an essay that “wows” those admissions counselors.

  1. Start Early.  The earlier you start, the more time you will have for brainstorming, editing, and revising.  This allows you to submit one of the best essays out there. My Pre-College Timeline talks about when you should start this essay and all of the other things.  If you want to see when I suggest to start, go check it out.
  2. Plan out your essay.  Start with reviewing the essay prompts: choose one and write it at the top of your document. Next, brainstorm different life stories that you could easily write about that apply to the essay prompt that you chose.  These should be bulleted underneath the written question. The most important part of this is that this is your opportunity to write about something in your life that matters to you, not something that matters to your admissions counselor.  Write from the heart.  Write truthfully about your life.  Dig deep in your soul.  This is what will help you stand out with the thousands and thousands of essays that these schools are receiving. Trust me.
  3. Write! I know it will be the third time I say this, but this essay needs to be written from the heart.  I can not stress this enough. If you are experiencing any pain while writing, meaning it is getting boring or you just don’t want to do it, you aren’t writing about the right thing.  I finished the first draft of my college essay in only a few hours because I was excited to share my story and allow the world to hear my voice. Click here if you would like to read my college essay. Don’t retell the whole story; instead tell about what you have learned from that experience and what you are going to take with you moving forward.
  4. Format. Since I am not an English teacher, I have decided to link a reliable source on how to format your essay: https://blog.prepscholar.com/college-application-essay-format  Formatting can be very easy but can also be very difficult.  Be sure to keep in mind your learnings from your English classes about paragraphing and sentence structure. When in doubt, think about what will be most understandable to your audience.
  5. Edit it. This is where you call in all of the forces.  All hands on deck. Unfortunately for me, after five teachers had reviewed my essay, one of my teachers told me that the essay that I had just isn’t going to work. With that, I started from step one. Lierally.That is the process of editing and revising.  Speak with your teachers, mentors, and writing counselors at your school to get the most advice on how to improve your essay, but please remember that this essay is still yours. Do not allow edits and revisions to sway and change your authentic voice in this essay.  From the edits, this essay should not sound robotic or choppy, it should still feel and read like a fluid essay from your own heart.

These are the basics that I followed to write my college essay  Of course, everyone’s journey and approach will be different, but if you do not know where to start, this blog is the right place.  Let me know what you think in the comment section below and as well, if you have any other suggestions, leave those in the comments.

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