It’s that time of the year, and rising seniors are usually spending their summer months writing – or at least, thinking – about what their college essay is going to look like. I’ve previously written about ways you can find inspiration for these essays, and in this post, I’ll be talking about general tips for these challenging parts of the college application process.
- Start Early
Maybe this is obvious, but something important to note about starting these essays early is not underestimating them. They often don’t require a high word count, and 500-word essays are typical – meaning, you’ve probably written much lengthier essays in high school. Some people may be able to crank out a 500-word essay in an hour. However, there is a major difference in the number of revisions that a college essay undergoes, and I would recommend at least a month so that your essay can be revised multiple times. Remember, it is not just you who should be revising your essay, but one or two other trusted people who can do so as well. These people will also need time to revise your essay, and a month or more is ideal.
2. Rereading it and Making Edits Separately
Like I mentioned above, these essays will not be perfect the first time you write them. You might even end up scrapping whole essays as you try to craft your best essay. In order to fuel the process and keep it ongoing, reread your essay every day, even if you think you are finished. By reading it with a fresh mind daily, you’re bound to find multiple things you’ll want to edit. And on the topic of editing, make edits in a different color, or use “strikethroughs,” like this, instead of completely deleting entire parts. I’ve found that if there were parts I took out, I could go back to them later and hand-pick words or phrases that still worked well in my revised version, and would have been difficult to work through if completely deleted. So, don’t delete parts that you don’t like! As your essay develops, they may just end up helping you out.
3. Stay engaged with the process
As you write your essay, you might find yourself thinking about it often, maybe even every day. Perhaps you’re searching for an idea still, or wondering how to reword that paragraph that just doesn’t sound right. I would recommend that if you’re not writing your essay, to still remain engaged with the process in one way or another, and this can mean simply thinking about it, or being on the lookout for ideas, inspiration, and motivation in all aspects of your life. A good place for these kinds of resources is social media, which is flooded with thousands of people in the same position as you, going through the same process. I personally found the “Applying to College” subreddit useful, I also watched essay videos on Youtube. There are also academic sides of Tiktok, which can give you brief aid while you still have fun on your FYP. You’ll find that any social media will have academic aspects to it. While every person’s essay is unique, interacting with others can help show you a different perspective as well as motivate you while writing your own essay. This way, even if you aren’t actively writing, you’re still somewhat absorbed in the process. It helps a lot more than it may feel like!
I hope the process gets easier for everyone undergoing application season, and your essays are full of life and personality!