Writing the College Essay

The hardest part about writing the college essay is picking one moment in your life that you feel captures your existence so completely that it should determine your future. The Common Application asks seventeen year olds to choose that moment, then write about it, using only 650 words. Not many high school seniors have lived through such a pivotal experience yet; I certainly haven’t. But it’s part of the Common App and necessary to apply to college, so most people have had or will have to do it.

My class and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to workshop our essays as part of our English class. This relieved some stress for us not only because we felt supported in the process, but also because we were allotted some time to really focus on them, amidst all of our other classes and things going on. This also meant that we needed to put ourselves out there. Each one of us read our essays aloud, and the floor was open to constructive criticism. We all did multiple drafts, and continued to accept feedback until there was no more!

There was no one poignant moment in my life that I knew I needed to write about, so I chose my topic based on one of the given essay questions. The prompt “Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family,“ reminded me of the unique feeling of taking care of children while on the Ethiopia trip last year. Although this was an important experience for me to have, it was definitely not the moment when I saw the light and my life changed forever. However, I was able to give some colleges a small glimpse into an impactful experience of mine, and that’s the most one can really hope for.

My biggest struggle while writing this essay was attempting to accurately portray myself. I needed to sound impressive- but I also needed to sound like me. Something tricky about constructing this essay is finding the balance between being the “perfect” college-bound student and being authentic. Presenting yourself well is important, but in my opinion presenting yourself honestly is critical. Students should go to a college that truly fits who they are, and this essay could be the only piece of their application that really shows a school that. It’s better not to lie in your college essay only to end up at a school where you can’t succeed.

So the pressure’s on. Or is it? You can choose to mold yourself into the young genius and wholesome Samaritan you think they want to read about, or you can give colleges an opportunity to read about who you actually are. We should all keep in mind that anything you write that is truthful and authentic will get you where you need to go… even though it may take time to realize it!

To read my college essay, Click Here.

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