April 6, 2015

Brainstorming College Essay Topics

Open a Common Application account. Fill out all the simple stuff you can complete now, like your personal details (address, etc.). Look at the full applications for the colleges to which you're planning to apply. Even though the applications for this admission cycle may not yet be available, those from the previous cycle are. Applications change relatively little from year to year. Besides, the college essay topics are generally open-ended anyway.

Start to brainstorm at least a few college essay topics. Write a 300-word paragraph on each and determine which ones flow most naturally and feel the strongest. Get feedback from trusted friends and family, as well as your guidance counselor, on which topic is best.

Write an initial draft of 1300-1500 words, wait a few days, then aggressively reduce its length so that it will be concise, yet full of substantive content. Print draft after draft. It's often easier to make revisions on paper than on the computer screen. Show your college essay to trusted friends, family, and your guidance counselor on your rough drafts, and, ultimately, your final draft.

Next, look at the applications for the colleges to which you're planning to apply, and determine whether you might be able to write a diversity statement. Of course, most people who write them consider themselves underrepresented minorities (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation). However, even if you don't fall within one of these categories, you might be able to write one if you've had an unusual life experience or can bring diversity to the table in another way.

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