College Application Essay Tips; How to Get Started
Getting Started on your College Essay
If your student is asking you for help, give yourself a silent pat on the back and withhold taking out the red pen. There are so many resources these days articulating how to write a college essay; what to do and not do. The tough part is weeding through the bad advice and understanding the advice that’s meaningful. Although there are multiple ways to talk about an essay, the sentiment is the same. The college essay is in place to help admissions learn about the student - to paint a better, more detailed picture of a person, and not just use grades and test scores as consideration. After all, with so many schools going test-optional, an essay is a phenomenal way to really express yourself. I want to share some tips to mastering brainstorming and writing the college essay that will bring some clarity and relief into your student’s life.
I’m going to address the elephant in the room and just come out and say this: getting started is the HARDEST part of writing a college essay. How can you start if you have no idea what you’re even writing about?
Start with a brain dump.
Go ahead and start writing down ideas - things you love, activities you participate in, books you’ve read. This part doesn’t need to be clear sentences and it certainly doesn’t need to make sense. Just put pen to paper and write.
Are you already bored of what you’re writing? Change it!
If YOU are bored with what you’re writing, then whoever reads your essay will definitely be bored too. Find a topic that you can write pages about, (but don’t actually do that, there’s a word limit).
Show the reader what you’re trying to say.
You know the phrase “show me, don’t tell me?” That’s the point of a college essay. Be descriptive, let the reader inside your mind, let the reader experience your feelings and emotions. The reader, in this case, an admissions counselor, wants to get to know you, use your essay to do that by painting a picture.
Leave the five-paragraph essay behind.
This may sound crazy, but you don’t need to write a true-to-form English essay for your college application. Do you need strong opening and closing paragraphs? Absolutely. However, you can write more freely, allowing your words to sound more like a conversation and how you speak.
Now you have a few ideas of how to get started. Start brainstorming, and next week look for tips about essay topics.