How to write application essay:  Suggestions for beginners

Even after graduation, we still cringe a little when I hear “college essay”.  Seriously, most of us would rather eat dirt then write another college essay.  How do you showcase your strengths without sounding ‘braggy’?  What is your life is boring – not emigrated from a war-torn country or your parents are just dentists? You’re not homeless that like girl who went to Harvard.  You’re don’t see yourself as particularly clever or special. 

So, how do you stand out? 

  1. Determine your reason for writing. How do you want your reader to react when they have read your essay? Consider your topic and then make a list of how you want them to react or what you want them to learn.   
  2. The Process

  3. Free write.  Sit down and just let the thoughts flow.  They do not need to be complete sentences or even make sense; just getting something down on paper will encourage other thoughts to form. It takes brutal honesty and originality to stand out, so let what you think manifest on your paper.
  4. Organize and write a rough draft. Your essay is one stop shop for everything that is you.  Imagine having a one sided conversation and it is up to you to give them a complete picture.  Use your free writing as a guide- just make it flow.  
  5. Write…. In chunks.  No one can sit down and craft a beautifully written essay in one sitting.  .  It is work.  Set a timer or schedule a block of time and spend it writing your essay.  The next day, come back, read what you have written, and pick it back up.  Fresh eyes between sections will give your perspective.
  6. Revise.  Revise it again.  Oh, and revise it again. Ask everyone you know to read your essay and get his or her feedback.  Are they reacting how you wanted them too (think step 1)?  Take their feedback and go back and make changes or add more.  Your essay isn’t about how good your first draft was, but how good the end product is.
  7. Next Steps

  8. Finally, ask for help.  Getting help is only going to improve your essay.  Many high schools will offer college essay workshops. 
  9. Get online and read examples. 
  10. Local community college or workforce centers will off help with editing and preparing your essay.

Don’t cringe or have nightmares over your essay.  Follow these simple steps and you will have a stand out essay!