How to Get a Headstart on Your Admissions Essay

I’m excited to share that my advice was recently featured in Your Teen magazine about how to prep for college starting rom freshman year. In honor of the article being out, I’m sharing the full unabridged advice.

1) Start journaling

One of the major components of application stress is the high school essay. By senior year, most high school students do not have experience or practice with creative writing, let alone writing about themselves. Most high school English classes focus on the academic essay (thesis statement, supporting paragraphs, concluding paragraph, MLA citations), which is important for all the essays you end up writing in college, but unfortunately completely different from the admissions essay, which is a creative personal essay. The personal statement required in the Common App is a creative writing specialty that doesn’t have a thesis and asks you to analyze yourself rather than any text. For that reason, the best way you can hit the ground running is to get comfortable writing about yourselves as early as possible. I recommend old-school journaling (pen and paper!) because it's a proven way for students to dig deeper in self-analysis and it's also very therapeutic. It's worked for all of my students when they felt stuck and couldn't write anything that didn't feel like cliche. Having four years of practice and journal entries will ensure you're set up for success when it comes to write the personal essay. 

2) Start exploring your passions

Freshman year is all about figuring out what you love to do. Ideally, you'd spend the next four years honing that passion, developing your talents, and growing into a leadership position that you can write about for a supplemental college essay. Use your freshman year to explore all of your interests so that by junior year, you're signing up for less clubs and really building your leadership in those. Don't wait until later in high school to figure out what you love: admissions officers want to see commitment and leadership in a few clubs, not just a list of extracurriculars you're somewhat involved in.

Seniors, what other advice do you wish you had freshman year?