How to Make Your College Application Essay the Best Writing You’ve Ever Done (#11 of 25)

The next way to make your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done taps into a key difference between this particular form and most other writing you’ve done.

#11. Mine your feelings

In high school, most of the writing students are asked to do is objective. Book reports, term papers, and independent study projects usually call for an accurate recapitulation of facts. Not only that, teachers and school districts often have rigid format requirements for these papers, to which students must adhere. Therefore, unless a student has done a lot of creative writing during high school, the college essay can feel like a new and intimidating form.

An easy to understand technique for handling this format is to shift the focus of your writing from the events themselves to how you felt about those events. Don’t spend a lot of time describing the specifics of how the Christmas toy drive you spearheaded worked; describe your emotions when you saw a homeless five year old girl playing with a donated doll. Rather than explain who’s related to whom at your family reunion, let the reader know how moved you were to be a part of such a loving lineage.

If you don’t remember how you felt at these moments, or you’re just a person who doesn’t naturally respond in that manner, take your hands off the keyboard, walk around the block, and try to recapture those reactions. It might take some time to mine your feelings, but the work and wait will be worth it. Reflecting on your experiences in this way demonstrates mature awareness and the ability to find meaning in life, qualities every school is seeking in their incoming freshman.

For more personal help with the Common Application essay, supplemental or any other college application essays, please contact Craig Heller at, or 818-340-1276.

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