Summer is Prime Time

Surf’s up, but summer is also an ideal time to get the jump on your college admissions essay. Summer offers time to think, reflect, and connect with a writing topic that you care about. Here are some good tips for making the most of the good old summertime:

  • Clear your head. Distractions like TV, texting, video games and Internet surfing can seriously inhibit inspiration. Once your school term is over, schedule some time away from those electronic diversions and find a park bench, rooftop, library carrel, or some other quiet place where you can hear your thoughts bubbling up from deep down in your consciousness.
  • Ask yourself exploratory questions. In looking for an essay topic, an excellent way to begin is by asking questions that can turn up some juicy conflict. Some examples: What has been the hardest thing I have ever had to face? If I had to quickly replay my life, which two or three moments would jump out ahead of all others? Which experiences have really pulled me out of my comfort zone? When have I ever felt pure rage? You’ll find questions like these, as well as a strategy for approaching them, in my book, Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps.
  • Write it down. Thoughts and ideas will be bubbling up for you this summer, as you look toward this time of your life that is so significant. Take it from this writer: if you don’t write it down, you’re bound to lose it.
  • Enjoy yourself. These warm, feel-good months make it easier to relax, and approaching the college admissions essay with less anxiety is a good thing. In fact, it would be extremely beneficial to view this assignment not as an onerous task but as a creative act. In that vein, you’ll want to commit yourself to the work, accept the idea that your essay will evolve through a series of drafts and allow yourself to take some pleasure in the process. Who knows? You may even discover the joy of rewriting.

Go ahead. Take some time off, go bike riding, swimming, hiking, or what have you, but then take a deep breath and start the work that’s needed on the challenging task of writing your personal statement.