A 650-word essay is less than two-pages. It may not sound problematic or overwhelming. But if you’re a high school junior, just the words “college essay” may cause clammy hands and beads of sweat on your brow, not to mention premature writer’s block.
The college essay is hands down the most anxiety provoking piece of the college application for many high school students and their parents. Why? It’s the first time most students are being asked to write about themselves.
Last week, I attended the Independent Educational Consulting Association’s (IECA) National Conference in Baltimore. I participated in a college essay breakout session led by Allan Reeder, owner of Hillside Writing. Allan tells his students to write authentic stories in areas where they are experts. He reminds his students that they are the central characters in their stories. The purpose of the essay is to humanize your application and let the college know something new about you that cannot be found in any other part of the application.
High school juniors can get started on the Common Application essay now. Although the 2015-2016 Common Application does not go live until August 1, the prompts are available now. When writing your college essay, avoid these pitfalls.
- Don’t forget who is the central character. You are the central character in this essay. You’re the lead. Got it? It’s all about you!
- Don’t tell an empty story. Make sure your story has a clear focus, lots of details and purpose.
- Don’t write from the outside. As the storyteller, it is your job to draw the reader into your story.
- Don’t forget the reflection. Setting up the story is important, but don’t forget to discuss what you learned and how you grew from the experience. (hint: meaningful reflection can’t be done in one or two sentences)
- Avoid a fairytale ending. Keep it real!
- Avoid a “Hallmark” ending. Don’t wrap up the story with a cliché ending.
- Avoid a big Hollywood ending. A quiet, thoughtful ending often works best.
Need help on your college essay? Admissions on Track can help! Contact Admissions on Track today to get started on your college essay.
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