It's almost the end of July and the school year is just around the corner. Many rising high school seniors want to have their main college essay written before they go back to school. Writing the college essay is one of the hardest parts of the admissions process. It is often the first time a student has to write about themselves.
Here are solutions to some of the most common writing issues students face:
Issue #1: Not sure what to write about.
Solution: If you are struggling to find the perfect topic, consider the things about yourself that you would want an admissions committee to know:
What things are most representative of who you are and what you've faced? What makes you a true individual?
I often ask these same questions when I am giving students mock interviews to prepare them for their first official college interview. But most admissions officers don't get the benefit of seeing you or talking to you before they read your application. So, here's a slightly different way to ask the question:
If an admissions officer never gets the chance to meet you in person, what would you want them to know about you?
Your answer should have nothing to do with being a hard worker or a similar trait that so many other students could share. And it shouldn't be about an activity because that will already be represented in your application. Write about something that allows them to see you in a much deeper and personal way—something that no one else could write.
"The key to finding the perfect essay topic? Make sure your topic reflects your individuality." TWEET THIS
Issue #2: Writer's block.
Solution: If you have a good topic, that's great. If you started to write, but hit a wall, don't worry! The best way to develop your essay is to find a secondary storyline that can help introduce your message and conclude your essay. For example, if you are writing about overcoming an obstacle, a meaningful experience, or even a moment when you questioned things in your life, is there an object, place, or mindset that helps tell the story? This can serve as an anchor for the beginning and end of your essay.
Issue #3: Too much to say.
Solution: If your essay is already over the word count and you still have more to write, an easy fix is to make sure you are staying "on message." Take a moment to answer this:
What underlying message am I trying to get across?
The answer to this question will help you pare down your essay and stick to what really matters.
Like all good writers, you'll likely encounter a few stumbling blocks on the road to a truly great essay. But don't let these stop you! Above all, make sure your essay tells a genuine story about what makes you "you," and the rest will fall into place. The more meaningful your essay is to you, the more that feeling will come across to the admissions officer who reads it.