Three lies about your college essay you best not believe, starting now:
- My story doesn’t matter.
- Nothing has ever happened to me.
- I don’t know how to impress the admissions officer.
Some help debunking these lies:
- All stories matter equally, like all people (should!) matter equally.
- If you got born, which I assume you did, something huge has already happened to you. From there, a million little and big happenings got you to the present. It doesn’t really matter what you pick to talk about, so long as you can say something that is important to you. Then you connect that thing to a broader message or point.
- Finally, “impress”? You’ve picked the wrong verb. Try “how to move” the admissions officer.
Anyway, what’s most impressive, and I’ve read a billion essays, is always honesty, and the writer’s firm sense of self-awareness.
And by the way, you don’t have to have this awareness already- the very process of reflecting on your life and writing an essay will build it! Isn’t that genius?
It’s how you talk about your topic that is going to make all the difference– not so much the topic itself.
What topic do I pick, again?
There is no absolute success-guaranteed answer. Anyone who tells you there are only certain kinds of things you must write about is full of lies.
AND–It really doesn’t matter. Isn’t that annoying?
Your main job, and why this essay is so cool, is you have to write about something that matters to you.
If you pretend it matters to you– then you will be writing lies, and 99% of the time your essay will not be good. (I want to leave a little room for the talents of the world’s most excellent BS-ers. But still).
For example, you could talk about something mundane and simple– say, how taking on the chore of vacuuming changed your relationship with your mom; how chewing gum saved you from social anxiety.
Is gum chewing like being chased by a lion on the savannah? No. Could that essay be just as good as an essay about escaping a carnivore? Actually, yes.
Free-writing prompt to avoid college essay lies
We tend to tell ourselves lies when we have no idea how to move forward. So instead of telling yourself things that won’t achieve your goal, try the opposite. Here’s a free-writing prompt and exercise to get you started:
Go to your favorite (local or accessible) place, or an important place (let’s say, a certain BBQ area in your local park), and write about:
1. What you’ve experienced there in the past, using vivid images (ex. a dropped hamburger shining red);
2. What you’ve learned there. (ex. how to hold your hand steady even when there’s chaos in your family).
Be sure to describe the place itself fully, so the reader can visualize the scene LIKE WE ARE ABSORBED IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOU.
Lies No More!
Now you have no more BS between you and writing your essay; so get started, and then go do something that matters to you.
Want feedback? Great, we love reading bs-free student content in the early stages, when you’re still trying to figure it out yourself, or in the late stages, when you’re pretty sure it’s done. Our feedback is fast and we tell you no lies, and we promise you’ll grow in the process. Contact us for input, or to report your successes.