Writing the College Application Essay: Guidelines for Writing Emotionally

Many of the best college application essays have a strong emotional content. They express and reveal the emotions of the writer – the applicant – and they stimulate emotion in the reader – the college Admissions Director. This fact is one reason many students find writing the essay so challenging.

Throughout high school, students are asked to write in a primarily informational, often tightly formatted style. Some papers, of course, require subjective analysis, but the subject matter is generally not of a personal nature. That’s why, when it comes to writing with emotion, particularly about themselves, most students don’t know how to do it.

It might be helpful, therefore, to examine some guidelines for writing with emotion on your college application essay. These include:

1. Be personal.
Admissions Directors want to know who you are. It’s okay to reveal private thoughts and emotions.

2. Be yourself.
Do not write what you think someone wants to hear. Write the truth as you feel or felt it.

3. Stay positive.
Do not dwell on negative emotions. If you experienced emotions like anger or insecurity be sure they are dispelled by the end of the essay, or replaced by positive ones.

4. Reflect.
Writing from the heart requires activating your emotional memory, those deeply held feelings about an event or person that you might not have examined since they occured, if ever. This aspect of writing the essay often occurs away from the keyboard, while walking, relaxing, or doing other activities that allow your mind to wander.

5. Be simple.
Emotions are powerful on their own. You don’t have to over embellish them.

6. Release your inner Lewis and Clark.
Take the reader on a journey of discovery through your emotions, with highs, lows, even some surprises. Don’t just relate events, keep the reader up to date on how you felt about them.

7. Be patient.
Writing emotionally takes time. People often do not know how they feel about things and even if they do, cannot put those feelings immediately into words. Allow the writing of the essay to unlock emotions you might not have even realized you possess, then keep looking until you find the exact words to capture those emotions.

For more personal help with the College Application Essay, contact Craig Heller directly at www.CollegeEssaySolutions.com or 818-340-1276.

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