Summer is the perfect time to get a jump start on the college essay. Both the Common Application and Coalition for College essay prompts for the 2020-2021 application year are available now.
Wondering where to start on your college essay? Start by eliminating the prompts you know you can’t write about. List potential topics next to each prompt you think you could write about. Now, envision yourself telling a group of friends the story…are they hanging on to your every word or looking at their phone? Does your topic provide a snapshot of who you are as a person and a student? Does it provide insight as to what you will be contributing to a college campus? How do you face challenges?
One thing I’ve noticed in helping students find topics to write about is that they tend to gravitate towards the topic of overcoming obstacles which typically results in writing about being cut from a sports team or recovering from a sports injury. Another go to topic is how they travelled to an underserved area and helped in some way. Please, I beg of you, do not write your college essay in this manner. I am not saying you need to rule out sports or community service. If you choose to write about these topics, put an original spin on them. For example, a student I worked with wrote an essay about how her sports injury led to her becoming involved in her school’s Stock & Investment Club not about her recovery. Another student wrote about a mission trip which changed her perception of charitable organizations and not about the work she did while in Thailand.
Students also tend to veer away from making their essay personal; they are hesitant to share who they are with the stranger who will be reading their essay. Understandable! Your essay should not read like a diary entry, but should contain the essence of you. It is a delicate balance. If you are struggling to find a topic to write about, think about a moment in your life that you think defines who you are and start your rough draft. It could be how you discovered your passion for cooking, a family vacation, a hobby, or a favorite song. This is your opportunity to share who you are, the elements of you that are not your GPA and SAT/ACT scores, the courses you’ve taken, or the activities in which you have participated. Your essay should be as unique as you are…share what that quality is!
Need help getting started? Schedule a Writing Workshop Sessions or sign up for College Application Basic Training to get help with your application and essay. All sessions are conducted via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. The college essay and application are the only opportunity a student has to paint a picture of who they are. How will your child make their essay memorable?