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College Search Strategies
Portola Valley, CA
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College Search Strategies Blog

Essays... where do I begin?

Summertime-- and I'm supposed to write essays. Wait! That's not how the song goes!! But it is how summer seems to go for the rising high school seniors of today. College applications are looming and getting an early start on the college essay can make the "application season" easier. Where to begin? 

The Personal Statement, or college essay, is the opportunity--really!--to tell admissions readers and decision makers something about you that cannot be found anywhere else on your application. You've heard again and again not to write about your sport, but when that is where you have spent a lot of your high school career, how can you avoid it? Find a moment in that sport or choir rehearsal or summer vacation with your family, when you faced a challenge of some kind, or failed to meet your expectations, or challenged the rules of etiquette. And something other than you failed to win the game. How about when you failed to swing at Strike 3 because you were thinking about who was on the airplane flying overhead? Or you swam your best time, but forgot to wait for the relay touch before you had taken off from the starting block? Or when you knew your music so well, and you began to sing after taking a quick breath only to realize you came in too early? Well, you get it, right? You can also write about the club or foundation you founded and why it means so much to you.

Whatever it is, make it personal. "I" statements. Yes, it sounds a bit like bragging. Yes, it sounds a little awkward, at first, but once you get to the true heart of who you are in your description of that moment, your essay will come to life. You will feel excited and energized. 500+ words will come easily--and your story will be heard. 

Then? Edit. Edit. Edit. Look for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors. Make sure the order of what you have written follows a sequence. Look for an interesting starting point. Admissions readers see hundreds of essays. You want yours to be as memorable as you are! 

Good Luck!