Reason #450,897,354 Why Writing College Essays Is Complicated

Comic: I'm more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles

Every year, especially in mid-October, college and transfer applicants share some version of the following: 

  • “I can’t get all my thoughts to focus on one idea.” 
  • “I’ve written several different paragraphs, but they don’t connect with each other.” 
  • “I have too much to say, how can I incorporate every idea into one essay?!?”

Students often attempt to write their autobiography, while simultaneously meticulously criticizing each and every word they write, in a type, then furiously delete, then type some more, desperately trying to draft The Perfect Quintessential Autobiographical Essay in one single sitting. 

Not. Going. To. Happen. 

No one can deduce the pith essence meaning of their lives without a thorough reflection, often requiring multiple conversations with others. Then, students listen to others’, particularly those who are objective, response to their assertions, answering others’ questions for clarification, which can often float out chunky nuggets of truth, one didn’t even know were buried in their subconscious. 

Thus, when students stop trying to write the quintessential autobiography in one draft or less, then they immediately relax, no longer trying to squeeze their minds for the most sophisticated ideas. Instead, just like MTV’s The Real World series of the 90’s, students “…find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real.”

And, it’s in the realness that makes for a distinguishing autobiography.


Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students (re)discover their aptitude, 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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