So here we are in August with much of the summer behind us, fall sports teams are starting their summer training, Back-to-School sales are on, and The Common Application just launched on August 1. The college application season has arrived and the best way to proceed is to embrace it. Don’t let the process scare or intimidate you because you are so much more than this process will ever be. You can do this.
On a daily basis, I find myself having thoughtful conversations with seniors who very much want to write a compelling and unique college essay, but they don’t know where to begin. The college essay also seems like a daunting assignment for students, one that carries more weight than just an average English paper assignment. The reality is that a student’s college admission decision rarely depends on a college essay alone, so students should not feel that this essay in itself will make or break their chances of earning a college acceptance. This type of thinking only adds unnecessary pressure for a student, and the writing process can’t proceed smoothly if a student can’t engage in it in a relaxed and confident manner.
Here are 5 tips to help you get started with writing your college essay:
- Have Faith in Your Voice– What you think and feel matters, and your thoughts, whatever they are, will matter to the college admission officers who read them. Don’t doubt or judge yourself. Don’t assume that what you are saying is not good enough. What you have to say is good enough because it comes from your mind. Write in your own voice; the colleges are not expecting anything else.
- Be True to Your Voice– Write your essay in a manner that feels natural for you. Don’t inflate the writing with vocabulary you would not normally use. Don’t alter your writing style or your essay content with the goal of impressing an admission officer. If you are truthful and authentic, college admission officers will respect your work.
- Trust Your Voice– College essays are very diverse in topic and approach. If you have a topic in mind that excites you, go for it! Don’t worry if everyone in your life is not on board with your idea. Pursue what feels right for you. If you are invested in your essay topic and all of a sudden see a sample college essay that does not look or sound like yours, don’t worry. Just stick with your original plan, and don’t doubt your abilities or your direction just because someone else has taken a different approach.
- Share Your Voice– When you feel ready, share your essay with someone who you trust and can count on to provide insightful feedback. Speak with a teacher, school counselor, independent college counselor, or family member who can be a sounding board for you. When edits are suggested, consider them carefully and make sure that incorporating them does not compromise your voice in the essay.
- Stand Behind Your Voice– Once your essay is complete and ready to be submitted, don’t second-guess yourself or anything that you wrote. Own your essay, own your voice, and share your ideas with your colleges. Be proud of yourself and be proud of your story.