Since we’re in the midst of college essay season, I wanted to share some wonderful advice about how to write a great college essay. Janine Robinson, my go-to-person for the best college-essay tips, writes regularly on this topic at her blog – Essay Hell.
I’d highly recommend that you visit Essay Hell and also check out her ebook that provides a step-by-step guide on writing a college essay. Lynn O’Shaughnessy
What’s Happening In Your College Essay?
Here’s one way to check if your college admissions essay it will engage your reader: See if something happened. If not, good chance it’s a snoozer.
I’ve written a lot about how you can bring an essay to life if you relay a story. And to find a good story, you usually need to find a problem to share. If you shared a problem, you most likely relayed something that happened. That is all good stuff!
Think about the last time you asked someone “What happened?” It probably meant that you wanted to know something from the past, usually the not-so-distant past. The story. The details. The scoop.
If your essay starts by relating something that happened, the reader is going to dive right into it and not stop until they are satisfied–until they know what happened.
What is an example of something that happened? Here are a few essay topics from my former students (See if you can find the “problem,” or what went wrong.):
- A girl wrestled a store mannequin into skinny jeans while changing the window display and the arms fell off.
- A boy hoisted himself up in a tree, but tied the knot wrong and got stuck.
- A boy pronounced words in his native German accent and got laughed at by classmates who thought he was dumb.
- A girl got separated from her parents while visiting Rome.
- A girl made her bed every night before climbing in for the night.
- A boy dragged home a discarded trampoline by the side of the road.
- A boy sang a rock song while lying injured on a gurney in the ER.
- A boy waiting tables mixed up an order and ended up picking up the entire bill for the family.
- A girl who always got the lead role in school plays learned she didn’t make the staring role.
- A boy loves nothing more than sitting with his mom and sister and watching soap operas together.
- A girl forgot to water her mom’s prized geraniums while away on vacation.
One last tip:
A Word to Parents