There is no way to avoid the fact that writing the college application essay is a stressful process. Yet students occasionally make it even harder on themselves by getting caught up in unproductive emotional states. That’s why they need to take heed of number nineteen of the twenty five ways to make your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done.

#19. Avoid Fear, Overconfidence and Inflexibility

Yes, there is a lot at stake but wringing your hands over your college application essay isn’t going to change anything. On the contrary, it’s going to freeze you up, make it harder to start and have you double, triple and quadruple guessing yourself. So try to maintain a perspective. The Common Application essay is 650 words max. It’s not a novel. You can handle it. Most high school students text more than that in a day.

Conversely, overconfidence can also get in the way. Students who think they can dash off the essay at the last minute, or that their first idea is so incredible they don’t bother to push for a second, or that the rest of their application is so strong the essay won’t matter, usually turn in less than their best effort. “I’ve got this” might be an effective mindset when attempting to balance your skateboard on a staircase railing, but not when writing your admissions essays.

Somewhere between fear and overconfidence , there’s a middle ground I like to call “healthy anxiety.” It’s what produced that 4.1 GPA you’re carrying. It will work for your admissions essays, too.

The third emotional state to avoid is inflexibility. Simply put, if ten people tell you your essay topic isn’t that thrilling, it probably isn’t. If people consistently ask which Common Application prompt your essay is supposed to be answering, don’t blame them, fix the essay. If the majority of people who read your essay suggest a different ending… listen to them. Although you might want the process to be over, and have even mentally closed the file on the essay, this is not the time to be stubborn. Keep working refining, improving your chances for acceptance.

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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