College Essays: 5 Things to Know

I am late with my July blog post! This is because I am deep in the heart of application season and this means I have LOTS of writing taking place with my 2024 cohort. Most of them have their main essay completed or coming down the final stretch. Their Common Apps are polished and ready to go. So the next thing on the college application timeline…supplemental essays.

Whether you are writing the main essay (and I regularly tell my kids that many colleges are test-optional, rarely are they essay optional), here are some tips to help you get started and help your story shine:

  1. Use the prompts to share a facet of your experience that is not already in your application.
  2. Write from the heart. This is a uniquely personal piece and if you are open and honest, you will allow the admissions reader to have a deeper sense of who is coming to their campus.
  3. This writing takes time. Rarely does anyone write a draft that is ready to send in. This is a process where you continue to revise and edit the piece until you feel like it tells your story .
  4. The main essay is 650 words. This is about one page. Many students feel like this is going to be a dissertation but actually it is a brief piece of writing.
  5. Here is a goal to help keep you on track and help you shape your writing: your essay should be so specifically about you that if the final draft didn’t have your name on it, and it was found somewhere in your community. people would know to return it to you because it was abundantly clear that it was your story.

The Common App prompts are here.

The fabulous people at DC College Counseling have a post with updated supplemental essays for the 2024 cycle here.

Good luck!

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