College Admissions Essay Writing, A Difficult but Rewarding Journey of Self Discovery

“You should definitely start writing your essays early” is common advice college students give to their high school senior friends. Yet, typically, the peer advisor shares little insight to why they started their essays “later” or how writer’s blocks stymied their own efforts in the beginning writing stages. 

Thus, the college applicant simply stresses about being “behind” in completing applications, which often translates as, “I’m never going to get into college since there’s no way I can write decent, let alone strong, essays”—further postponing their drafting efforts.

Seniors now, as their peers then, often delay drafting or even brainstorming, wondering, “What do admissions officers want to hear in order to merit an acceptance letter?” With no grading rubric and an only acceptance letter as a confirmation bias of a “good” essay, applicants may struggle finding the motivation to begin writing. 

In attempting to discern The Right College Essay, applicants often worry about being rejected, the fear of not measuring up to some subjective standards for admissions in a holistic evaluation.  Applicants’ worst nightmare is that their entire life’s effort and sometimes a perceived sacrificed childhood in pursuit of an elusive college acceptance will be for naught. In anxiety, they procrastinate. 

Although a diversion from actually writing, students seek to bolster confidence about the likelihood of admissions, in order to resume writing. Many ask strangers on social media to Chance them, seeking a crowdsourced assessment of their odds of admissions from other similarly worried (and inexperienced) teenagers. With seeming reassurance, students can once again commence writing

Yet, applicants often wonder how to distinguish themselves, concerned that their topics are cliche, stymied by another type of writer’s block. Seeking resolution to their concerns, students Google sample college essays, attempting to define what’s “good” from essays where the applicant was admitted. Yet, unwittingly, students may be more intimidated, perceiving themselves as less than the unknown writer who seems to have succeeded in the college admission game.

Without a process or objective guidance from a trusted advisor to resolve writer’s blocks in a timely fashion, applicants in all their teenage wisdom often simply delay writing until, given a looming deadline, they absolutely can delay no longer. 

So, to translate a recent college applicant’s advice to start early: allow time to navigate the inevitable stresses of a write-then-get-blocked tempo of college essay writing, a process of discovering your true purpose that is a complicated but always rewarding journey.

Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students craft insightful essays, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please contact us 

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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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