As a college essay writing coach, I get this question all the time from parents (less so from students, hmmm): when is THE BEST time to start writing the college essay?
My honest answer is: I don’t know. That’s because I believe and have seen that the process is highly individual. February? April? The Summer? Fall? The minute the Common App releases their questions?
My mother has been telling me my entire life, “Education is power.” The first time she brought it up I was but a short little second grader who was scared of her own shadow. Whenever I heard the saying “Books are bombs,” which was ever so often from my reading teacher Ms. Brown, it would send me ducking and heading for cover, sheltering myself under the desk. She explained to me that they weren’t literal bombs, but figurative ones. This only added to my suspicions, that books were bombs that came in many shapes and sizes and were dangerous and could never be trusted.Contiune Reading
The following sample personal essay, “Too Muslim for Violence” was written by Mohamed Morsi, my 7th grade student at The TEAK Fellowship. I am proud to share it with you here– he has exploded into his voice over only 8 weeks in my class, and he has a message for us about individuality and peace. If you think you don’t need to hear it, you’re probably wrong. It’s never too young to start them writing about what they see in the world, and who they might be.Contiune Reading
For years I have relied on free-writing exercises to show my students their own light. Free-writing opens the writer to all the buzzing life they carry inside themselves in the form of memories, wishes, dreams, regrets, insights– and stories, stories, stories. And for your college essay you need stories.Contiune Reading
I believe our teens need to see their teachers (and, frankly, as many adults in their world as possible) stand up against erasure and misbegotten hatred of individuals and groups. Our teens need to know, if it was them at risk, that their identity, their selves, would be protected, too. Celebrated, especially.
That’s what art, and in particular the art of the personal essay, is for: to look into identity closely, to transmute pain, to understand how a person comes to be themselves, what has shaped them. To share that through style and craft. To open yourself up to others.Contiune Reading
“The realization might start to gnaw at you while you rewrite a draft, or slam into you while you are walking to class: I HATE my college essay! Now what?
As your elementary school teacher might have cautioned, hate is a strong emotion. It is no fun to feel like you hate your college essay at any point, especially as nerve-wracking deadlines loom. And, the point of the essay is to make the college admissions committee fall in love with you and your incredible personality and distinctive writing style. Your stomach drops and you lose all hope of a bright future….
Despair not. Although it is not advisable to make any final decisions about your writing based on this feeling, you can look into your hatred to show you something true.Contiune Reading