Are you getting overwhelmed with even the idea of writing your college essay? I understand because when I was in your shoes, I was too. I remember sitting in my senior year AP lit class one day and feeling like I just walked out of a rabbit hole with no idea what had just happened in the last 45 minutes. And Lit was my favorite class! All I could think about was the fact that it was October 8, and still had nothing to submit for any of my early action schools.
Sure, I had gotten advice from my guidance counselor, older friends who were already in college, my genius of a cousin who got into Harvard and Yale, and even my immigrant parents who had no idea what a college essay even was (heck, I don’t know if they’ve ever written an essay about themselves even to this day). I had even checked out loads of books from my local library about college essays, some as long as 120 pages! But, I felt so overwhelmed with all of the different information and advice that I was getting, I became paralyzed out of fear that my essay wouldn’t be good enough (spoiler: it ended up great).
I’ve written out my top 5 college essay writing tips that you should keep in mind before starting your college essay. So, put down that book full of essays and read this instead!
Tip #1- Be Honest and Remember Why It’s Called a “Personal” Statement
Fear makes people do funny things. Students often get so paranoid about writing the “right” things in a college essay, that they end up writing about only things that they let fear misguide them, or even paralyze them, into writing an average essay. I once worked with a student who had a perfect GPA, near-perfect test scores, was the Editor-In-Chief of their high school newspaper, and wanted major in journalism, but when it came to their college essay, their first draft read like a resume (one of the most common mistakes that students make when writing their college essays). Don’t be tempted to write what you think an admissions officer wants to read, because chances are, you’ll be selling yourself short.
My advice? Start with your laptop, get comfortable, and just let the words flow. Pretend it’s your own private blog, that no one else gets to read. Back in my day, it used to be called a “diary.” I used to keep one and write down things like how my Lucky Charms that morning turned my milk into a delicious cereal smoothie that I wanted to bottle and sell to the kids at school, how I couldn’t decide between wearing a pink polka dot scrunchie or the one with neon green zigzags on it, and other boring mundane details of my 80s life. But, every so often, I would write down things about myself, my dreams, and my life that surprised me. And that’s when it got interesting. Because I didn’t take writing in a diary seriously, I didn’t feel the pressure. And when you don’t feel the pressure, it becomes real and something worth sharing.