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August 21, 2014

5 Steps to Starting Your College Essay

"Where do I start?!" is probably the most common question students have about the college essay. It's not like anything you've written before. It's not a tweet, and it's not an essay about "Great Expectations" or "Romeo and Juliet." It's something in-between: personal AND professional. How do you toe the line? I'll cover that combination in future blog posts. For now, here are 5 tips to help you start writing the dreaded college essay.

1. Don't start at the beginning.
Write any random potential anecdotes, details, or ideas as they come to you. You can work on connecting them later. It's possible (and highly likely) you will write the most effective sentences of your essay only after a great detail of free-writing. Feel free to use any format that works for you in the brainstorming stage - it can be bullet points, an outline, or just a word or two. Your goal is just to get as much down on paper as possible.

2. Ask a friend to interview you.
Find someone you know and trust to ask you several questions about your passions, experiences, hobbies, authors, TV shows, etc. This is much more effective than the broad (and scary!) question: "What do you want to do with your life?" After having this focused interview, your "interviewer" will be able to give you extended feedback on your interests, strengths, and weaknesses. This will be helpful in figuring out your essay topic.

3. Use writing prompts.
Filling in the blanks can help you overcome writer's block. Ex. "I like ____ because it makes me feel ____." "A global issue that excites me is _____ because ______." "I enjoy learning about ____ because ______."

4. Browse your first-choice college's website.
Since you're probably passionate about your first-choice school, looking over its website may help you figure out themes to discuss in your essay. If the school specializes in business management degree programs or humanities, then you might want to tailor your essay accordingly.

5. Make a list of your passions.
You'll notice the idea of passion comes up a few times here. That's because passion is necessary for engaging writing. If you don't enjoy what you're writing, the admissions officers probably won't either. On the other hand, if you're clearly excited about whatever it is you have to discuss, it's more likely the admissions officers will be, too.

5 comments:

  1. I would like to add one more thing, when planning a persuasive essay, follow these steps:

    1. Choose their position.
    2. Analyze their audience.
    3. Research their topic.
    4. Follow the proper format for their persuasive essay.

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  2. Thank u so much this informartion has really helped me alot

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  3. Great tips. I read a lot of scholarship essays and I have noticed a few mistakes students make:

    1) Typos: Spell check!
    2) Overuse of humor: Don't force it!
    3) Txt Language: You are not sending a text message. Spell out the entire word!

    Hope you don't make the same mistakes.

    ReplyDelete