How to Get Started on Your College Essay

man when it comes to writing college essays there are literally hundreds of books out there that talk to you about what you need to write about how to write your essay a bunch of information that is a lot to comprehend all at one time now this video isn’t really focused on what you need to write about or how to make it stand out or anything like that but just about how to start I think that’s the hardest part for most students because everyone just contemplates and thinks and sits and waits and since it’s already September for those of you applying you guys already know that this is primetime to get started early because you do not want to be cramming at that last minute I will say though that there’s a lot more information in the e-book that’s launching September 1st about writing the college application essay every little thing about short answers supplemental essays the comment app I even go through and break down my own coming up an essay and until you guys why I wrote it like I did I did make a video about that that I’ll link down below if you want to already read my comment essay but it’s just a little bit more revised and refined than the one that I’ve previously uploaded now this video is sponsored by Collegium prep a few weeks ago they reached out to me and I found out that they were also a bunch of Ivy League students and college students themselves who had a similar mission of helping students get into their dream school Legion prep offers a bunch of services all the way from picking out a school list filling out the comment a financial aid essay review how to pick a school like like I said the reason that I support them so much is that they’re also college kids and they been through the application process they know what it’s been like they know what it takes to get into Harvard and Stanford and Princeton so they have a lot of unique insights that they can share with you guys if you’re interested definitely check them out below they offer a bunch of different packages and their pricing is super transparent and compared to the other culture insulting companies they’re doing it for a fraction of the cost they also offer many pro bono services so that might be the case for your financial needs definitely check them out below I will have it linked all right step number one brainstorm this is the most important part of any writing process regardless of any application that you’re writing if there’s one thing that you spend the most time on it should be this step because this is critical to your success and obviously your overall arching message of your essay when I say brainstorm it’s not your typical bubble maths and your tea graphs and whatever they tell you in middle school it’s actual brainstorming mean that you’re gonna need a lot of time to and ponder if you’ve been struggling for the past few weeks and can’t figure out where to get started here’s what you do find a local coffee shop finding your couch find your bed any way that you feel the most comfortable and the most relaxed and just sit there open up your laptop open up a Google Doc title brainstorm and write you just have to let your ideas flow onto that page read the pump over and over and over and just think about what that means to you internalize it really process what they’re asking and what you think that they want to hear from you and just go from there like the more ideas you have this gives you flexibility when it comes to finding one concrete topic they can actually write a sufficient essay about now this book is written by Alan Gelb I purchased it when I was applying and it I didn’t read through the whole thing because I’m lazy but there were a few good things that I wanted to share with you guys first off you have to consider the various reasons why people write in the first place she says to connect with other people to come to terms with something in the past to project into the future to better understand something in nature to amuse to arouse to preserve a tradition or fork way to confess to forgive now those are really great options to consider before you start writing your own essay because I mean yet to really consider like why you’re writing this college application essay what benefit is it gonna do for you other than just getting you into your college but more importantly what is that admissions committee gonna be able to take away and learn from you about as a person and from the experiences you’ve had in your 17 or 18 years what is one or two things that you can really impactfully you know tell a story because that’s at the end of the day if you take one thing away from this video is that you need a tell story you need to find a way to think of it less as a college essay right think of it more as a poem or a short story or a novel that you’re gonna be writing and as soon as you flip that switch in your mind it’s gonna be so much easier I promise now also a few questions that can help jumpstart things are what has been the hardest thing in your life what has been difficult for you to accomplish at what points have you felt inadequate and how did you deal with those feelings if you have too quickly your plate your life which two or three moments would jump out ahead of all the others what do you regard as your greatest victory what in the world fascinates you have you ever felt betrayed what fills you with pride these are just a few sample questions to help get the juices flowing but I mean at the end of the day like I said just pick things that are meaningful and memorable to you and start writing about that okay so after you’ve brainstormed a bunch of ideas you want to separate them into three different categories there that the things you can actually work with and the cream another crop the throw it out in the garbage delete it if you really don’t think you can work with it then there’s no point in dwelling any time thinking about it now the other two categories are the most important and what you are gonna be able to write an actual essay out of from these six to ten or what however many ideas you have start to narrow it down to the most meaningful ones and also the ones with the most depth the ones with the most impact lowness and the ones that you can actually craft a real story out of if you have one or two small memories that are meaningful but you can’t craft the whole essay out of it then maybe those aren’t the best ones but if you have an in-depth you know personal experience that has shaped you or you know shape the way that you viewed life then you know obviously that’s gonna be a better story to tell now step two as Maggie says it just do it your education gonna write itself there’s no one out there that’s gonna be able to formulate your story and be able to tell it in a compelling way in your own words with your own actions and the way that you tell it is gonna be so unique to you that you can’t hire anyone else to do it you can’t have a special computer come up with any algorithm to write your perfect story it has to be up to you which is why this is such a roadblock for so many students like you guys get so caught up in the little things about it needs to be perfect right off the bat it needs to be this and that and reality no it doesn’t like your first drafts are gonna be complete I will tell you that right now like it took me so long to get from where I started to my final product and the fact that it took so many edits and revisions made it all that much better which is why you have to start somewhere even if you think it’s complete garbage which you probably will think that’s why I thought that’s what everyone thinks when they first start writing you just have to keep pushing through that and the more you get comfortable with writing college application essays the better and better its gonna get and the more time that you push it off I can’t do it right now I don’t have anything good to talk about or all I’ll just do it tomorrow I’ll do it next week you’re pushing yourself later in the application process that it’s gonna be too late for you to get a good concrete rough draft so that it can go through multiple revisions like I said now when it comes to running a successful and persuasive college essay you need to have a good hook your hook is your attention grabber and it just keeps your reader entertained and wants them to keep reading so that they can learn more about what it is you have to say what you’re gonna be talking about in your essay obviously there’s theses like you learned in high school but when it comes to college essays your attention grabber in my opinion is more important and more effective which is why like I said in my comment up essay I started off with like Candace’s her name she has curves in all the right places everywhere I go she’s right there hand in hand side by side it’s weird that I still remember my college essay word-for-word but you know that’s a funny attention grabber I talk about candidates like it’s a girl when in reality she’s my camera and you learn more about why I had and how I fell in love with photography and personifying my camera as a girl was just a really creative writing tool that you know kept the reader entertained and wanted to learn more I personally recommend avoiding the rhetorical cliche questions about do you ever wonder or have you ever been in this situation like I would avoid that because it’s still overused I do recommend things like in media or a style which like dives the reader right into the middle of the action and then you can kind of backtrack rewind to the beginning and then go from there another important huge vital step is to find one unique experience students get so caught up in trying to tell their whole life story in China become too much of a people person and they’re just being too narcissistic like you don’t really matter that much in the application process it’s your story that matters it’s the experiences you had whether it was studying abroad or helping a nonprofit organization in Africa or volunteering at your local hospital the experiences that you’ve been through and have shaped you as a person and the people that you have met and have you know shown you this way of life is what’s impactful if you try and talk about your whole life story about when I was a kid my parents moved here and they raised me to do this and now I want to go to Stanford to do become a doctor so that I can give back to my family that’s boring and since you only have about 650 words you’re never gonna be able to go past the surface level when you’re trying to cover that much information which is why I think it’s so important to just find one experience story or moment that you can craft a whole essay out of in front there that’s just gonna give you a lot more real estate so that you can go really in depth on this one topic rather than just barely hitting the surface on a bunch of different topics does that make sense now step three edit edit edit this is a huge step in refining your college essays so that becomes a work of art let me find anyone that will take 5 to 10 minutes on it they read over your essay and give you critiques it doesn’t even have to be grammatical or typos arrows but just ask them you know hey what did you think of this essay what flows well what doesn’t where you did you feel something packed full after reading my essay the more and more people that you get to do this whether it’s your friends your teachers your directors anyone that has some kind of say in your life reach out to them and be like can you read over this just tell me your most initial thoughts that’s another thing I just realized is that you want to get their initial thoughts not you know right after they’ve read it and it’s had time to fade away but you know try and be with them when they read it and see their expressions you know are they laughing in love they’re reading it are they emotional what do they feel after putting down your paper and looking in the eyes and saying this is incredible or they could say I don’t understand this what’s your point what are you trying to get across and it’s important that you take that advice very seriously and take it to heart because as great of a writer as you think you are considering other people’s feedback and using that to improve your own writing is the only way you’re gonna improve in life as a writer and just or just in general like taking criticism and learning from it and seeing what you can improve is the most fast-track way to success okay I’ve been rambling way too long but I know that college essays are a huge burden to tackle personally for me I know that getting started was the hardest part I just felt so discouraged like reading my first drafts me like this is complete garbage like I don’t want to keep going but you know I hope that with these tips it helps give you the motivation to just get started like I said once you have your feet wet and you know have a few lines or a few paragraphs written then it just starts to go from there that about wraps up for this video I hope you guys enjoyed make sure you guys like comment and subscribe and I will see you guys next time [Music]