Writing the College Application Essay – Slow and Steady Wins

In the desire to complete and submit your college application essay, there is a tendency, at times, to hurry. This can be particularly harmful because, in general, the longer you work on the essay, the better it will become. So here are three areas where you might have the impulse to rush, and a number of ways you can avoid this mistake.

1. Resist the urge to write

Many students get an idea, bounce it off a few classmates, then sit down to write their essay before it is fully developed. This can lead to concepts which fizzle out rather than build and most importantly, don’t represent you at your best. To overcome this pitfall, you must resist the urge to write. Just when you think you’re ready to start crafting those perfect sentences, don’t. Continue brainstorming. Do another outline. Talk the essay through with another advisor, parent or friend. Make sure that your idea is solid, and that you know exactly where you’re going with it, before you begin to write.

2. Do more drafts

Given the demands of high school life, most students do one, two, maybe three drafts of a typical paper, before they turn it in. Though this is often enough to get the grades you want, when it comes to the college essay, you need to do more. Those masterfully developed ideas, beautiful turns of phrase and dramatic conclusions will often be revealed to you in the fifth or sixth draft, long after you initially thought that you were finished.

3. Wait three days before you submit

After reading your essay over and over, it often becomes difficult to pick up minor or even significant errors. Somehow, the eye tends to glaze over certain sections, assuming they’re flawless when they’re not. One way to combat this tendency is to put off turning in the essay for at least three days after you’ve “finished.” The routine would go something like this. Finish the essay. Put it aside for three days. Don’t look at it, read or obsess about it (that last one is often the hardest). After three days, read the essay again, as if for the first time. Chances are you will find areas that can be strengthened and whether it’s a major point or a single word or phrase, that three day waiting period will have been worth it.

You’ve got one chance to make a positive impression with your essay and rushing, in any way, isn’t going to help. So start early, work slower and write the best essay you can possibly write.

For more personal help with the college application essay, please contact Craig Heller directly at 818-340-1276, or [email protected].

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