Welcome, students and parents. Please come in and lie down on the couch. I assure you, everything is going to be all right.
October 1 is almost here and, students, you have not yet written your college application essays. You’ve entered the last minute essay writing phase of applying for college. Many of your friends have already completed all their essays, and are walking around your school gloating about it. You’ve begun to think you’ll never get them done and have started to look at the curriculum of your local community college.
Parents, you are wracked with guilt over not insisting that the essays be completed over the summer. You are in pain, stressed, frustrated, and insecure. I understand, and you are not alone.
Last Minute Essay Writing Panic
Your condition is called Last Minute Essay Writing Panic and it often reaches epidemic proportions around this time of year. But have no fear, there is a simple cure. For students, first, you must be willing to forget the past. Those classmates who have written their essays, visited twelve campuses and already bought the sheets for their dorm room beds are not your problem.
Parents, guilt at this time will not be helpful (is it ever?). You are a wonderful parent and have helped shape your child into the outstanding human being he or she is. You, too, must put aside what has come before, and focus on the task ahead which is simply…
Stop thinking/fretting/planning/making excuses/distracting yourself/complaining and reading up on how to write an essay and get to work!
Get to Work!
Students, it doesn’t matter that you’re late; there is still plenty of time. And beginning now doesn’t mean your essay has to be any better than it would have been if you completed it by Labor Day. So don’t put that extra burden on yourself. Go directly to your computer, open a file titled, “Essays” and write “The.” Or “I.” Anything at all just to get you started. Overcoming inertia is half the battle and to win it you have to wage it.
From there, you can read my blogs about writing the college application essay and use them to help you brainstorm, outline, find a topic, or simply improve your writing. Or read someone else’s blogs, whatever feels right to you. Then, please, keep on going.
Don’t write a killer first paragraph, tell yourself “I’ve got this” and take the next two weeks off. Maintain your momentum. Write every day, even if it’s only to revise what you did the previous day. Do not take a day off until you have something you can actually refer to as a draft, and whatever you do, stop listening to you fellow seniors. They’ve finished their essays? Good for them. But this is your journey, not theirs.
What About the Parents?
Parents, your cure for Last Minute Essay Writing Panic is similarly direct. To help your student with his or her essays, make yourself available for brainstorming, if your student is open to it. If you have to give up a recreational activity of your own to be there to help, do so willingly. Offer to relieve your seniors of chores that are usually their responsibility. Ask them specifically what you can do to help them carve out some extra time, then step up to whatever they say.
Do not get on their case, get on their team.
Well, look at that; our time together is up. Happy essay writing to you all, and may each of you get accepted to your first choice school!