Guest Post: Advice about the College Essay from a Graduated Senior to The Class of 2013

About the Author: In a few weeks, Hunter will be a Freshman at UC Berkeley, considering a major in Physics.  He applied to 10 colleges and wrote 18 short answer and full length college application essays in Fall 2011. 


Tips for writing college essays (from someone who wrote quite a few):

  1. Don’t sacrifice your voice to achieve an orthodox essay. In other words, make sure you inject your personality into the essay.  It’ll be easier to write that way, and it saves you from banality–unless you’re a super boring person.
  2. If you feel writer’s block starting to frustrating you, stop thinking about the prompt. Start writing exactly what is on your mind. Even if those words are, “I hate this essay. I don’t want to go to college anymore.” What ends up happening, for me at least, is that my thoughts wind back to, “I really do want to go to college,” which is a good thought to have when you’re applying for college.
  3. Be honest with yourself. Writing college essays can be personal, and it’s much easier to write about yourself if you have a clear idea of who you are and what priorities and values you have in life. You might even discover something new about yourself in the process.
  4. Don’t use words that you’ve seen on, but have never read in a book or heard used in a sentence. You probably don’t understand the actual idea or thought or feeling traditionally conveyed by the word, and it’s obvious to someone who knows what it means that you just found it in a thesaurus.
  5. Don’t stress too much. You can always go to community college if everyone rejects you–which won’t happen.

For more thoughts on the college essay, see our previous posts.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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