Most students I work with apply for college from early fall until early January. But I don’t necessarily recommend waiting until fall to start thinking about one of the most important assignments of your life: writing your college essay applications.
As a high school junior, you should start working on your practice essays in spring and early summer to ensure you have time to tell a compelling story about what makes you unique and the value you’ll bring to your future alma mater.
So, what can you do now to prepare for summer or fall, when you’ll need to write your essays for real?
Get familiar with the Common App: The Common Application, or Common App, is accepted by more than 900 schools, which may include your dream school. This year’s Common App doesn’t open until August 1 but reviewing the 2021-2022 Common App can give you a sense of the types of prompts you’ll see when you write your essays.
Brush up on your writing basics: Before you put pen to paper, it can be helpful to do a quick review of writing best practices. It might sound nerdy but checking out a book like the famous guide
The Elements of Style (AKA “Strunk and White”); Eats, Shoots & Leaves; Woe Is I; or another grammar guide can help you ensure you’re getting the fundamentals right when it’s time to write.
Take a swing at a practice essay: Consider the options available to you and the one that will result in the best story – one that allows you to highlight a lesson you learned, the strength of your character, your ability to lead, or another quality that will resonate with the reviewer. Find themes and trends in your academic, personal, and community spheres that you can use to tell a rich story.
Ask for feedback: It’s next to impossible to write about yourself without at least a couple of blind spots. That’s why it’s important to get feedback. You’ll ensure you’re not missing anything and get more valuable perspective on the way you’re coming across when you share your story.
Take the opportunity to identify and address gaps: Admissions counselors love well-rounded applicants who have good academics, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. If you’re a little light on community involvement or extracurriculars, now’s the time to consider how you can fill these gaps so you’ll have a better, fuller story to tell.
If it’s all seeming a little too daunting—or if you’re interested in getting that essential feedback from a pro—check out the services I offer, and reach out to me for a no-pressure free chat about how I can support your needs.