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College Essay Productivity Tips: Play With The Essay

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School is back in session and we know you’re already feeling the burn. The homework has piled up up and the extracurriculars are swallowing your afternoons. When are you supposed to find time to start that pesky college essay (that you were supposed to write this summer, but no biggie — we won’t tell anyone.) Would it be easier to set aside an hour if we told you writing your college essay could be…FUN? Here are a few tips for how to shove the assignments aside and dig into the truly entertaining experience of starting your college admissions essay.

  • Make a playdate. Does the thought of scheduling a time to sit down and write your essay make you break out in a cold sweat? It shouldn’t — we’re telling you, this is going to be fun. Put a date in your calendar and stick to it. Bring a bag of cookies with you to your desk. Cookies make everything better.
  • Play games. All those icebreakers you know and love make for excellent writing prompts. Two truths and a lie. What animal would you be and why? Take it from us — these creative brain exercises are lot more fun than the Stare At The Common Application Prompts While Feeling Despondent game.
  • Don’t worry about it. Free-writing, a popular technique, encourages writers to ignore grammar, punctuation, and word limits in favor of getting as many unfiltered ideas on the page as possible. Take that AP English teachers of the world! Mwahahaha! Start with an essay prompt and write whatever comes to mind. If you begin to run dry, just write that you can no longer think of what to write until you pick up a new thread. Give yourself a time limit of 5-10 minutes for each prompt. Most of what you write will be unusable, but even if you mine one gem from your efforts, you’ve won.
  • Word association! Time for mom and dad to do some work. Ask them each to list five words that describe you. While you’re at it, ask your sister and your best friend as well. Maybe even your AP English teacher.  Gather a handful of these words and then try to attach past experiences you’ve had to these traits. It’s the match game — but with your life!
  • Get crafty. Not every student loves to write, but as YouTube and podcasts and internet memes have shown us, there are many ways to express yourself in 2014. Try answering essay prompts in non-verbal ways before you try to put them on paper. Paint a picture, record a song, film a makeup tutorial. You won’t be able to submit these efforts to admissions, but they might eventually inspire your words.
  • Go on Facebook. Seriously. Finally! An excuse to scan social media venues for hours in search of an essay topic. Really though — depending on how you use social media, trends in the content you post could lead you to some excellent topic ideas. “It’s research mom, I swear.”

Check out more Tips for Brainstorming Essay Topics.

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Read about this year’s Common App questions.

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