Tip #2- Show One or Two Important Stories, Instead of Telling Twenty-Three Different Things in Your Essay
Show, don’t tell.
I can’t stress this point enough to my students: describing yourself or your life through one or two descriptive stories does more for your essay than a whole bunch of statements ever could.
Case in point: If you’re writing your college essay about your love for chocolate Bourbon biscuits, don’t start off by describing the origin of the biscuit, all the reasons you love the biscuit, and why it’s you cannot live without a snack. Instead, tell a story about the first time you ate a chocolate Bourbon biscuit, and tasting that delicious, sweet, creamy, crunchy chocolatey goodness. Straight out of the package, from your hand to your mouth. See how better that sounds? How does that feel?
As a college admissions consultant for Stoodnt, I often work with quite a few international students. Though I have been proven wrong many times, many of my students are not good at expository writing, since they haven’t been taught to do so in schools. They thus find it difficult to tell their personal stories effectively in writing. In fact, many U.S. born students have trouble doing so as well. The key is to let go of any anxieties and just pretend you’re writing a single diary entry documenting your experience on any given day… be a storyteller, not a story shower.
Tip #3- Start Your College Essay Early, Like, Summer Early
You can’t rush perfection. You can’t even rush above average. If you’re reading this in your junior year, it’s a little early to start writing, but not early enough to start thinking about your college essay. If you’re reading this in your senior year, and it’s not yet September, then you’re golden. If you’re a senior, and it’s past September, start NOW.
Don’t try to write a masterpiece on your first try. If you’re a perfectionist like me, that’s hard to swallow. But the more time you have to work with, the better your essay will be. It’s not about the quantity of drafts, but the quality of drafts you write. Word length, topic, structure—throw all of that out the window the first couple times. You’ll get to it later. When you give yourself time to let your essay rest, you give yourself the opportunity to churn milk into butter.