The final of my twenty five ways to make your college application essay the best writing you’ve ever done could just as well have been the first. That’s because it can not only improve the quality of your essay, it can elevate the experience of writing it.

#25. Use the writing of your essays as a journey of discovery.

When starting to help students on their essays, I often tell them, this is a chance to discover what you didn’t know you didn’t know about yourself and the events in your life. Because let’s be honest, teenagers, for the most part, are not naturally introspective. Which is as it should be. Right up until they find out that their ability to be introspective, in their application essays, just might determine their immediate future.

Now, “journey of discovery” is, of course, one of the world’s great clichés – “(fill in the appropriate activity here) is a journey of discovery” – so you will have to forgive me for that. But it does apply perfectly to the writing of your college application essay. Writing an effective essay will require Magellan-caliber courage. You’ll need preparation, enthusiasm, a spirit of adventure, the ability to adapt to unique situations, often a supportive crew. Once you set sail, there is no turning back and you’d better make shore before your rations run out, or your due date arrives.

The rewards, however, should make the trip worthwhile. Mining your past can help reveal your future. Taking a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses can focus your energies and keep you from making mistakes. Knowing yourself better can only lead to becoming a better self.

Good luck on your college application essays and may you sail on smooth waters, through all of your journeys.

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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