College Essay Writing

One very important as well as frustrating part of the exciting – yet grueling – college application process is the college essay. The general college essay that everyone discusses throughout the whole process can be about anything that your little heart desires, which is why it is so infamous. It is an essay that can usually be used for numerous different schools if they tell you to submit any essay without asking a question and most importantly, it is what sets you aside from the application they read before you, the application they read after you, and all of the rest. The advice that many give is to not write about the obvious; the obvious being death, divorce, the winning goal you scored or anything that the rest of the 10,000 applicants are also likely to write about. You are supposed to write about something that will set you apart.

When I sat down to write my college essay, the countless suggestions that many peers had drilled into me swarmed through my head. The obvious essay that people expected me to write was about the book that I had written and self published at the age of fourteen. I sat down to write it- so excited that I actually had something to write about as all of my friends were still trying to brainstorm. After a few drafts and my parents’ editing, I felt satisfied. I didn’t find it to be the best piece that I had written, but I felt that it got my point across- the point that everyone had said I should make within this essay.

A week later we had to set up meetings with our English teachers so they could help us with our essays. I dropped off my essay in the morning and met with my teacher that afternoon. I was anticipating a rather good response and a gateway for conversation about my writing. My new English teacher had heard a lot about me but we had never discussed anything. I was looking forward to talking with him and I felt like this would be the perfect opportunity. When I walked into his office, there were a lot of red marks on my essay and a face that didn’t look as happy as I had hoped.

“It’s self-centered,” my teacher had told me.

The word stung me and it wouldn’t stop replaying in my head. Self-centered was the one word that I did not consider myself. I always kept my writing quiet, never brought it up to my peers and even when I was asked I always became shy. I had never wanted to be called self-centered, nor did I want the essay that I was submitting to colleges to be self-centered.

I left my English teacher’s office discouraged and frustrated. I now had to rethink a college essay and write it with limited time left and a whole load of senior year work that was piling up. I vented to my other teachers and asked for guidance. But then I realized that no one could tell me what to write my new college essay about. As corny as it sounds, college essays need to come from the heart. I thought long and hard and finally just started to write. After numerous drafts- and when I say numerous, I mean numerous, I finally had a college essay that I loved. I had a college essay that was me. The college essay that I ended up submitting was ultimately about how writing has influenced my life and about how I have used writing to change my life.

If I could give any advice to all of you who are going to write a college essay it would be to follow your gut. Don’t allow anyone tell you what to write and what not to write. Always look for positive and negative feedback because just like that one teacher did for me, someone might do the same for you. Although I was discouraged by the criticism at first, he was the reason for my new and improved essay. And lastly, write many different drafts and experiment with many different topics. You never know which one will make the best essay until you try it!

Alexa Rivadeneira

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Categories: Essays / Personal Narratives

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