The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a College Essay
To keep things organized, I recommend recording all of the content from your workouts in one document. If you've been working on the fly, you've probably already finished these, so make sure you finish them now. If you'd like, you can utilize our printable Google doc containing these activities.
I ask students two questions at the start of the essay process:
Have you faced major obstacles in your life?
Are you interested in writing about them?
Because there's a crucial caveat:
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Even if you have suffered difficulties, you are not required to mention them in your personal statement.
I bring this up now because, in my experience, many students believe they are required to write about challenges—that it is either expected or beneficial to do so.
Neither statement is correct.
I've seen a lot of amazing essays with no central challenge—pieces that got students into every school you're aiming to get into.
If you're not sure what constitutes a problem and your answer is "Maybe...?" it's helpful to conceive of challenges as a continuum. Things like receiving a lousy grade or not making X sports team are on the lower end of the range. Things like escaping conflict would be on the strong end of the range. Being incredibly shy but having to translate for your family can be a 3 or 4 out of 10 situation.
It's feasible to utilize Narrative Structure to write about a difficulty at any level, but it's far more difficult to write an excellent essay on a weaker challenge.
Sometimes students choose the most difficult problem they've faced and try to make it sound worse than it was. Avoid forcing yourself to write about a problem simply because you believe these types of essays are "better." Focusing myopically on one experience can put other brilliant and beautiful aspects of your personality on the back burner.
Don't worry if you're still unsure. I'll assist you in deciding what to concentrate on. However, for the purposes of this blog article, answer those first two questions with your intuition.