1. Start RIGHT NOW: Although it is already November, you still have plenty of time for those early January deadlines as long as you start right now! Even though it’s tempting to procrastinate and put off college applications until Winter Break or even (please don’t do this for the sake of your sanity) December 31, you’re going to regret not starting earlier when you’re in a time crunch. It’s important that you plenty of time to plan out your essays, write, re-write, re-write some more, and edit your essays. All of this takes time, and you will not be able to write essays that you are proud of if you’re worried about simply completing them.
2. Research, research, research: A lot of essay prompts will ask you: What specific things do you like about this university and/or major? The best way to answer this question is with specificity! In order to create a compelling case for why YOU should be accepted into a university, it is imperative that you do your research to prove that you know the school inside and out, and you know which specific things you will take advantage of during your time on campus. Is there a specific laboratory that you want to complete a research project in? Is there a certain class you want to take or professor you want to study under? What kind of organizations would you join? If you do your research, it’ll be easy for you to write a strong essay that shows the admissions officers that you truly belong at that school, and it can help them envision you there as well. Also, if you’re going to apply to a school and potentially attend the university for four years, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Trust me on this one, researching makes the difference between a good essay and a great one.
3. Get some new eyes on your essays: Some of the best resources as you are writing your essays for college applications are the people around you: your friends and families. Especially for any personal statements or essay prompts that are asking about personal qualities or traits, your friends and family are great ways for you to make sure that when admissions officers read your essays, they know exactly who you are. In addition, it’s always nice to have someone edit or proofread essays before you submit them. Spelling or grammar mistakes, even minor ones, can negatively affect an admission officer’s perception of your writing, or even worse, of you.
4. Shortlist your schools: If you’re anything like me, you probably started your college application process with a list of over 20 schools. Although it’s possible to complete this, it’s highly unrecommended from every single student who has done so before. It may seem like the best way to get into a lot of schools, but a high amount of applications crammed into a short period will only stress you out, which is counterproductive to your last-minute application process. Luckily, you’re not tied down to the list of colleges you originally planned on applying to! A good way to shortlist your number of schools is to ask yourself these questions: Can I afford to go to this school? Do I truly love this school enough that I am willing to spend hours, if not days, completing an application for it? And lastly, the most important one: If I am accepted into this school, would I choose to attend it? If your answer to the last question is “no”, then there is absolutely no point in your spending your time and effort on completing an application for a school you wouldn’t even go to!
5. Look at example responses: This does NOT mean steal someone’s essay idea or plagiarize; that is the LAST thing you want to do. However, looking at examples can really help you to think about your own essay responses. Example essays are really helpful if you are struggling to understand a certain prompt, or simply want to see how other students may have interpreted it. If you think this may limit your creativity, though, do NOT do this. If you are looking for resources to get a good idea of how the prompts have been answered successfully, though, this is for you!
Wishing you the best of luck,