We have a guide for that!
Chances are, you have probably kept a diary or journal at some point in your life (or at least read through your older sister’s). Maybe this journal held the highlights of your family’s many vacations and life-changing experiences, or maybe it’s filled with more day-to-day events – like that time you got the highest grade in your science class after struggling all year, or the most amazing meal you tried at a new restaurant. Either way, if you wrote it down, there was something that stood out about that moment or experience that made you think it was important enough to write down.
Now, that journal full of precious childhood memories is probably forgotten at the bottom of your sock drawer or decomposing in a landfill somewhere. Let’s face it – what was important when you were five probably isn’t as important to you anymore. However, now that you’re starting your adult life, you’re probably having richer experiences than ever before. So, we suggest pulling that old, dusty notebook out, or picking up a new, fresh one and starting a summer journal! Not only will this help you to preserve all of the summer memories you make, but it will also make you a better writer and, oh yeah, help you with your college essay too! We’ve broken down the two most significant ways that keeping a summer journal is the key to mastering your college essay and landing you a spot at your dream school.
Like all good writing, personal journal writing tells a story. Try to embellish on all of the details that you encounter and show don’t tell. Instead of saying “the beach was nice” say “the golden sun’s light glimmered off of the white sand as my toes sunk deeper into its warmth.” Can’t you just feel the sun beaming down on you? Can’t you just imagine the feel of the warm soft sand between the toes of your bare feet? Capturing the concrete details of your experiences will help you remember them better, and will also put your readers into the action. Use all of your five senses. Don’t say “the beach was windy,” say “the cool breeze kissed my skin and danced through my long hair.” Readers will know the exact way the wind felt against your skin and can imagine the sight of your hair moving through the wind. Illustrating your personal stories is exactly what you want to do when writing your college essay. Your journal is the perfect place to practice and perfect this skill.
If you’re like most seventeen year olds, then you probably haven’t had a million life changing experiences. If you have, that’s great! Maybe you know exactly what you’re going to write about in your college essay. In that case, you’re very lucky. However, the rest of us may not be able to think of the perfect topic off the bat. But when you look back at what you wrote down over the summer, you may find gold between the pages. Maybe you took a vacation with your family and unexpectedly befriended someone from a different country that told you all sorts of stories. Or perhaps you spent the summer perfecting your artwork and finally mastered the proportions of the human face. Either way, you may be able to write about how these experiences shaped you and changed you as a person in your college essay.
Don’t ever forget that you’re an exciting person! Everyone has something in their lives that can be translated into a winning college essay. Sometimes, it just takes a little digging. By keeping a summer journal, the digging is among the pages and in your own words. And if you happen to master the art of storytelling along the way, then that wouldn’t be so bad. Good luck and happy summer journaling!