Finding Inspiration When Writing College Admission Essays

When applying for colleges, many colleges ask applicants to submit personal essays. These essays answer prompts, which range from a variety of questions that allow every student to submit an essay that tells the admissions team about themselves. However, despite the choices and creativity that the prompts allow, many students often find themselves staring at a blank screen for weeks, not knowing what to write. The process is a time-taking one, to say the least, and requires much thought and revision. Colleges can place great importance in these essays, as it is often the most personal aspect of your application and the only one where they can directly hear from you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m just not interesting,” or “I haven’t done anything worthy enough to write about in an essay.” The truth is, you don’t need to have taken a life-changing trip or founded a non-profit for you to have a solid essay. Many times, the minuscule things in our life can form cohesive and poignant essays by themselves, if we look at them in a new light. Below, I’ll give tips on how you can find inspiration for this important part of applying to college. These tips come from my own experiences in writing essays and helping others, but are not official tips, by any means.

  1. Hobbies

While this is seemingly obvious, many students skip out on writing about their hobbies because they feel that they aren’t significant enough. However, as someone who wrote about their hobby, I personally felt that it was a smoother process than if I had written about something else. I was writing about something I was passionate about, and it helped me reflect on how this hobby had impacted me in my life. Remember that colleges don’t just want to read a narrative about your embroidering, but rather a narrative that shows a thought process on how this hobby reflects you as a person. Are you an avid gamer? Have you ever had a gaming experience that made you reflect on your experiences? Maybe you’re applying to be a CS major and you can connect your love of gaming to a love of technology and how it pulls you into the online world and connects you with others. Maybe you find yourself still in awe at how you can communicate with someone from anywhere in the world by the click of a button.

     2. Experiences from Childhood

While writing these essays in high school, students can often feel like they don’t have any significant moments from high school that they would want to form an essay about. However, at the point of writing college admissions essays, students are in their late teens, ranging from 16-18 years of age. If you can’t find a moment of inspiration from the last three years, try to think back further. Was there a defining moment in middle school, or even elementary, that stood out to you? Why is it that you can remember that moment so many years later, and how has it had an impact on your life in recent years?

     3. Asking For a Different Perspective

Since we can’t exactly remember every moment of our own life, especially the way high school tends to blur together, it might be helpful to ask a friend or family member if they can think of something significant that would answer a prompt. We often forget that our personality takes up various forms in other people’s minds, and it’s very possible that they can remember a significant moment or fact about your life and change the way you think about it. I personally had this experience when a friend told me that she didn’t feel qualified enough for a position because of her experience. I reminded her of a specific extracurricular event she had co-hosted in the past, and how significant of an event it was at the time. Asking someone to help you find an idea may aid you in seeing a future essay topic in a new light. 

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