Answer This Question Before Beginning Your College Essays


As the school year is wrapping up, many juniors are looking ahead to some R&R over the summer. And understandably so! But, it’s also a very good idea to use these summer months to get some college work done too.


The Common Application has released their essay prompts for next year, which can be found here. Since the last prompt is basically topic of your choice, the door is left wide open, and students can struggle with where to begin and what to write about. Most students encounter some sort of writer’s block when it comes to starting their essay. It is one of the most important pieces of writing they will ever do (no pressure!).


The two purposes of the essay

Let’s first remind ourselves that there are two main reasons why colleges ask students to submit an essay as part of the application. First, they want to make sure the student has good writing skills. Is the essay written thoughtfully and carefully? Can the student write papers at the college level and do well at their school if admitted? This is the easy part; most students moving on from junior to senior year have good writing skills. Also, students can have their essay read and edited by teachers or counselors to make sure it’s okay.


The second purpose of the essay is to learn more about the applicant. The college wants to know more about the person on the paper. They have grades, test scores, and other stats in front of them, but who is the actual person? The essay is a chance for a student’s personality to shine through. This part is harder.


The question to ask

To help students get started on the essay, I ask them this important question: What are the strengths and personal qualities you would like colleges to know about you?


Let’s say a student wants to convey to college the following: they have good leadership skills, they are a loyal friend, they are close to their family, and they love trying new things. Now, they can think of a story or anecdote that highlights those traits.


This is one way to go about getting past the stress and anxiety of starting to write a college essay. We understand that it can be daunting and difficult, but Campus Bound is here to help. Our counselors and essay specialists have helped students with thousands of essays, and we would love to help you. Contact us for a free consultation.