Now’s the Time to Write your Personal Essay

Now's the time to write your college essayAre you a rising senior in high school? If so, now’s the time to write your personal essay. College applications may seem far away at the moment. But you’ll be there before you know it—it’s just a matter of months.

 The best way to minimize the stress of applications is to complete your main essay this summer. Here are some tips for writing a great one. First, read essays other students have written. You can find collections of them online or in the library. After reading each one, ask yourself: if I ran a college, would I admit this person to my school? Why, or why not? Later, you can use these questions to measure the effectiveness of your own essay.

Before you begin the writing process, take some time to think about who you are and how you want to present yourself. Jot down those thoughts and keep the notes by your side as you write. Most applications give you one or more prompts, asking you to write on a particular topic. Read over this year’s essay prompts, and choose the one that inspires or intrigues you most. Using the prompt, start brainstorming essay ideas.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to think, write and rewrite. Your essay is a very important part of your college application. It needs to be great! To write a successful essay, keep these things in mind:

  1. Your personal essay should be an integral part of your college admissions strategy. That strategy is something you should spend time carefully considering. It ought to take into account your strengths, the colleges on your list and how those pieces fit together. (Read more about college admission strategy.) Your essay should distill the essence of who you are and where you’re hoping to go in life.
  1. Your essay shouldn’t brag. It should demonstrate that you’re capable of reflecting about yourself and the world around you.
  1. Like any good essay, it should grab the reader’s attention and keep them interested until the end.
  1. No matter how long or short, any essay worth reading takes many hours—sometimes many weeks—of hard work. It’s normal to go through multiple drafts and edits before an essay becomes well focused and polished.
  1. If you feel you’ve hit a roadblock in your writing, don’t be afraid to start over. Sometimes a fresh start can be liberating and just what you need.
  1. Get feedback: Read your essay to a parent, teacher or counselor and get their comments. Ask them whether they would admit the person who wrote this essay, if they ran a college. Hint: the less the person knows you, the more objective their answer will probably be.

Enjoy your summer, but don’t procrastinate about your essay. Get started now, and you’ll be glad you did!

For information about one-on-one writing sessions, contact The College Strategist. 

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About the Author: Mona Molarsky

Mona Molarsky is a private college counselor who offers advice and assistance to students and their families at every stage of the college preparation and application process. She also offers tutoring in English, social studies and language arts.