November 10, 2011
Still working on my essays. Couple more to go but you know what they say, the last ones are the hardest. (Do they really say that? I think I’m confused.) Anyway, Elyse keeps coming in and asking me how it’s going and even though I usually throw a pair of gym socks at her, I’ve been wondering what I could say to her about writing the essays. She’ll be going through this herself in two years and I’m thinking isn’t that what a big sister is supposed to do? Kind of, stake out the territory of life and report back? So, I guess what I learned is… Start Early. Definitely. The closer it gets to the application deadline, the more panic sets in. Be original. Realize that the first idea you have, is probably the same first idea that everyone who’s writing the essay has. You hafta dig deeper. Keep working. (wait, I’m gonna put these in a list.)
1. Start early
2. Be original
3. Keep working
Make sure the essay does not have one sentence you are not absolutely in love with. If it does, change it. Do more drafts than you’ve ever done on anything. The essay gets better. It just does.
4. Be yourself.
Don’t say what you think the college wants to hear. They really do want to know who you are (Not the parts where you talked trash about some girl in your class who was talking trash about you. The positive parts only, please!)
5. Answer the prompt
Obvious, right? But sometimes you get going on your essay and you kind of edge away from the prompt and before you know it you’re writing something else and then you’ve done so much work on it that you start convincing yourself that it’s okay even though a part of you knows it isn’t but the truth is you’re tired of working on the essay, in fact, you’d rather be doing anything else, and you figure it’ll be fine the way it is. It won’t be. Don’t do that.
6. Make the essay something only you can write
Just because everyone is going to tell you this, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. What they mean is don’t go writing about how you’re going to cure world hunger or stop global warming. Write something personal that happened to you and you care about it. That’s the important part. If you care, you’re going to want to write about it and if you want to write about it, you’re going to do a better job. Makes sense, right? Wait.
7. Use the essay to learn about yourself
This one is tough to understand until you’re actually doing the essays. But, they ask you things on the prompts, and sometimes you’re not sure of your answer. But in figuring it out, you can actually start to learn things about yourself you didn’t know before. Or, you knew them but you couldn’t find the words to express them. Does that make sense? You might want to ask me about this one in person. (Oh, and believe it or not, this part can make writing the essays fun. ‘Cause, what could be more fun than learning about yourself?)
(I know there are some more of these but I’m tired and it’s not like you’re applying to college tomorrow. And I’m still going to throw socks at you when you come in my room.)
For more personal help with the college application essay, contact Craig Heller directly at Craig.firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-340-1276.