The College Blueprint Buzz

Brainstorming Your College Essay

Author: Gail Grand, The College Advisor, Inc. (May 2021)

From time to time, we like to reshare previous newsletter topics like this one to the up and coming senior class. It’s an oldie, but goodie when it comes to essay writing! We can’t wait to share more on senior items like brainstorming college essays, college planning, applications, and more! We hope you enjoy it!

Summer is a great time to ponder deep thoughts, and as the school year winds down, rising seniors should be pondering their college essays.

The essay is a student’s best opportunity to set themselves apart in the college application. Their grades through junior year are set and while they may be able to improve their test scores in the fall, it’s the essay where they can truly put the spotlight on their personality.

Remember, there are more than 35,000 other student government presidents, nearly 35,000 other school newspaper editors and thousands more members of the National Honor Society. The essay can be the ticket out of “Sameville.” No question, summer is the best time to start thinking about and drafting your essays.

Where to start? Brainstorming a compelling topic is much more challenging than just sitting down and writing an essay; in fact, it is a much more rewarding process. It is tough work because it requires self-analysis and a willingness to dig deep to provide the college admission reader with thoughtful, introspective writing.

How do you brainstorm? First, find a quiet place where you can think and write, away from distractions. To start, free-write some thoughts on different or defining moments you’ve had. Have you worked with someone who has had an impact on your life? This could be an extracurricular, academic, or athletic activity. What are the descriptors or the “defining characteristics that you or someone who knows you really well would use to describe you? Are you passionate about something? Do you have any quirky hobbies? Did you choose to become vegan? How have you changed in the last few years? Which experiences have been the most meaningful? And especially, how have you grown and changed during this pandemic year? Ask yourself, “What do I want colleges to know about me?” This is a great time to think about what is important to you and how you have matured over the last several years.

Once you have written some thoughts, take a look at the essay prompts for the Common App and the Coalition Application. These are intentionally vague, providing you with opportunities to use your brainstormed topics to fit one or more of the prompts.

Still unsure of where to start? Check out our YouTube videos on College Essay Writing: 3 Common Mistakes and The Basics of Essay Writing for College Applications!

We offer an Elite Essay Writing and Coaching Program for students that just need assistance with their college essays. Work one-on-one with an experienced essay coach to engineer strong and strategic essays! Contact us to learn more!

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