Everyone says they’ll do it, but few actually follow through on that promise. You know what I’m talking about...starting your college applications in the summer. This daunting task that so many make it their mission to complete is often pushed off and dreaded so intensely that you’ll end up spending your holiday break just churning out essays. I know, you’re probably reading this right now and shaking your head, as you know that this will never be you, but I promise, it might be. I have many a friend who had subscribed to this promise, yet found themselves throwing words on a page the night before they were due.
It is true that some people work better under pressure, but be honest with yourself—will you be fine writing your supplements on the floor of your room as your family sits around listening to holiday music while laughing in the room next door? If the answer is no, then here are a few easy tips to starting the dreaded process early and starting your senior year with the proverbial weight (or at least some of it) lifted off your shoulders.
Look at your schedule for the rest of the summer and decide how many hours each week you plan to dedicate to your essay writing. Maybe you’re an excellent writer and will be done after only a couple drafts, if not, give a little more time (I spit out five or six drafts each for each of my Tufts supplements).
Tell your parents, friends, dogs, stuffed animals, etc. of your plans, so they will hold you accountable when you really don’t want to be.
Find a place in your house, at a library, or a park where you can sit down and write a killer common app or supplemental essay. These aren’t easy and for me, it took many rounds of editing to complete, but think about the school you’re applying to, remember your visit, read their blogs (like this one!) and decide why you connected to that school.
Start with some basic bullet points to flush out the ideas and if one seems to click, run with it. Try sitting down and just writing on a subject for 15 minutes. Don’t edit or contemplate why you’re writing, just write. If this is an incredibly tedious task, trash the document and write about something else—it’s that simple. Whoever is reading your essays will know if you’re forcing something, so write about something that comes naturally.
Once you have that elusive draft that you feel pretty good about, set it aside for a bit and if you have someone you can trust like a college counselor, tutor, or parent look it over. However, you’ll want to make sure your voice stays present through their edits, and your essay doesn’t become a product of your parents’ hobbies or opinions on life.
Continue this process until you come across the essay that will make the admissions counselor say “Yes, I want this student. They belong at this school more than anyone else!” Someone once told me that if you can’t drop the mic at the end of an essay, it needs to be more powerful. When you’ve reached that point, congratulations, you did it, now drop the mic!
Photo Credit: Sebastien Wiertz (Flickr Creative Commons)