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How to Start Your College Admissions Essay

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It’s a classic story of student-visits-campus, and it goes like this. First, student visits campus (duh). Then, student notices campus’ uncanny likeness to a wizarding school that shall-not-be-named. Student declares undying love for campus. Student decides to apply Early Decision because student is All In™. But then student realizes it’s only July. The deadline is months away. Student decides to forget about it for now and focus on the summer before senior year.

Well hello, dear student. Here we are. If you’re reading this, it means that the story we just told is actually about YOU. The deadline is looming, but the truth is you’ve been procrastinating for so long that you’re starting to feel like it’s not even worth starting your early application. But here is the deeper truth: we know that somewhere deep down inside is a part of you that really wants to get that essay finished. Sure, you’d probably rather rewatch all of Riverdale on Netflix or nap until April, but we both know this has to get done. If you need help reigniting the spark that made you fall for your dream school, we’ve got some tips to help you get motivated, get started, and get it DONE in time for your early decision deadline.

Break it down

We’re not talking about dancing, but if a dance break is what you need, then by all means do what you gotta do. We’re talking about dissecting and organizing the writing process so you can better delegate your time. Writing an entire college essay may seem daunting, but jotting down 3 topic ideas doesn’t. Making a quick outline isn’t too much of a time suck. Noting the song that was playing when something profound happened to you won’t make you late for dinner. Reinvent the college essay until it’s a collection of quick, easy-to-do steps.

Stop Dwelling

One problem that many writers run into (yes, all writers, not just college essay writers) is wanting their piece to be perfect. Wanting your essay to be a masterpiece is great, but if you’re trying to craft a tour de force on the first try, it will extend the amount of time you spend on the process. Write what you can and write down everything that comes into mind. Only then should you start to cut the fat. More importantly, another eye will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t and what you missed in between. So spill your guts, and then go to your guidance counselor or other trusted advisor for a quick round of feedback before you kiss it goodbye.

Understand the consequences

We hate to use the fear tactic, but you’re running out of time! If we were to follow this hackneyed romcom metaphor to the bitter end, this would be the “speak now or forever hold your peace”moment. The early decision application deadline is weeks away and you want to make that deadline. Applying early decision and early action means you beat out all of the other qualified students for a first look from admissions officers. Applying early sends a message that you take the school seriously and want to be one of the first names they see in their countless admissions packages. If you don’t make the deadline, you’ll kick yourself later.

Above all, dear student, remember that this too shall pass. You may find yourself working extra hard over the next few days or weeks, but it won’t be forever. If you follow our advice and remember to break it down, get out of your own head, and stay motivated, you’ll muscle your way over the finish line. And if you’re still daydreaming about your Netflix account, just remember that it will still be waiting for you thirty minutes from now when you finish outlining your essay, checking deadlines, and writing down ideas (without editing them). So what are you waiting for? Set a timer and get started!

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