There’s probably a billion and a half blogs about how to survive the college application process, and that's a good thing. At this point, the process is super well categorized- you can find tips on testing, school selecting, food, housing, financial aid and all that fancy stuff. Since the myriad of perspectives is what makes online advice work, I thought I might as well throw my hat into the mix. Here’s a student’s guide to getting college essays done and not dying in the process.
First off, stress is healthy (to a certain degree. If you’re pulling consecutive all nighters I strongly recommend going to sleep). Getting your brain started is the hardest part, and a healthy bit of stress goes a long way in doing that. Once you’re dragged out of bed, force yourself to get started on writing that essay, even if that means writing whatever comes to mind when you think about the prompt. Once the brain is nice and warmed up, the process of working becomes more natural. What you type out doesn't seem forced, and you don't find yourself deleting every other sentence on that essay about what makes you happy. In other words, you’ve jump-started the engine and progress is being made. Yay!
Tl;dr: Getting started is the hardest part. Force yourself to start whatever task you’ve been putting off because once you start, the rest will snowball in.
The second step is maintaining that workflow. This was my greatest pitfall in the process- I thought everything had to be perfect the first time. I would get stuck writing the same sentence over and over again, when I really should have been looking at the big picture. Write what you think! Even if it sounds like rambling, it is rambling that can be polished up and served later. Just keep typing :)
Tl;dr: When you’re writing, don't think too hard. Just keep typing what you think and everything will turn out fine.
Okay, so now you have a somewhat coherent essay and that's perfectly fine. Now, the third step is going back and polishing it. A good painting is done in multiple layers, and the same goes for a good essay. It’s really simple at this point- read through it, keep what you like and replace what you don't. Notice I said what you like, not what you think the admission officers want to hear. It is important that you show your true voice in the essay so that admission officers can determine the extent to which you will fit the school.
Tl;dr: Any work is better than no work at all, and one genuine sentence is more valuable than an entire polished superficial paragraph.
Lastly, college applications are hard. Take a lot of cookie breaks, I find that helps.
*cover image from: https://goo.gl/5OEDjI . Some changes made to original image.