The Easiest Way To Start a College Application Essay: Here’s How

The Easiest Way To Start a College Application Essay Here's How

Starting your college application essay can be difficult and intimidating. Many students do not know where to start, especially because the introductory paragraph plays such a major role in hooking the reader in and establishing your authorial voice. A simple strategy to implement is to start your writing process with the body paragraphs. 

The introductory paragraphs can be difficult to nail down if you haven’t developed the main points of your essay. Start by outlining the story you will tell. Most prompts offer the opportunity to write a narrative. You should know that a successful essay will spend significant time developing the narrative by reflecting on how the story has shaped you as a person. 

When writing your college application essay, you will likely write more than one draft. If starting your essay is intimidating you, consider beginning in the middle, and developing some of your main ideas by drafting and brainstorming, before taking on the challenge of writing a stellar introduction paragraph. 

Strategizing your essay in this way is a great way to ensure that your opening paragraph is written in a focused, concise, and engaging format. The easiest way to start your writing process is by working through the body paragraphs first. 

College Application Essays: Include What’s Important

When writing your college application essay, there is one thing that is important to focus on throughout any essay: you. Regardless of the prompt you select, always bring the focus back onto yourself. 

Talking about yourself can be vulnerable and daunting. Here are some key talking points to think about implementing in your essay. 

  1. Talk About Your Future

As you brainstorm, outline, draft, write, and revise your essay, consider how you can develop a discussion about your future. What can you bring to campus? What goals do you hope to achieve while pursuing your degree? Why is the specific school a good fit for you? Talking about your future explicitly is a good way to ensure that the admissions officer considering your application understands why they should offer you an acceptance letter. This talking point may only take up a few lines on the page but will make a lasting impact on the reader.

  1. Provide An Understanding Of Your Values

When writing your college application essay, it is a good idea to develop your main points around a discussion of your values. Talk about something that is important to you! You should know that it is crucial to be genuine in your writing and submit work that is personal and honest. 

If you are unsure how to speak about your values, note that the discussion of your beliefs, goals, values, and interests can occur in the reflection portion of your essay. The narrative you choose to focus on will be supported and developed by an explicit understanding of the things that matter most to you. 

Do not leave room for guesswork! The reader should be confident in making connections between the story you have told, and the values your narrative reflects. 

  1. Be Optimistic

This is a good tip to keep in mind when revising and editing your work. If you tell a story about a personal weakness, failure, or challenge, always circle back to discuss your growth. Remember who your audience is! 

The college admissions counselor reviewing your writing will play a large factor in deciding whether or not you will receive an acceptance letter from their college or university. Do not end your essay on a low note. Your reader should be confident that you have gained something from your trials. 

This does not mean that you need to avoid serious topics when selecting the focus of your narrative. Instead, choose the topic that is the most relevant and the most crucial to understanding who you are, then develop the narrative further by reflecting on how you have grown, changed, and evolved. 

The most important thing to focus on during your essay is a discussion about yourself. If your essay tells a story about someone or something that is important to you, be sure that you are diligent in maintaining a discussion about how that person or thing has impacted the way you live your life.

Remember, the goal of the essay is to offer the reader a clear idea of who you are. Writing about yourself can be intimidating, but failing to do so leaves the reader with no option but to fill in the blanks themselves or assume the author is too lazy to consider the prompt. 

College Application Essays: Prompts For 2021-22

You may be wondering, “What will colleges ask me to write about?”. Many colleges use the Common Application, which offers students seven different writing prompts to choose from. You will only need to write one essay, but you should read each prompt and consider which one is the most relevant to you and your story. 

Common Application Prompts

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  1. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  1. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  1. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  1. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  1. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  1. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 

The open-ended prompt number seven can be intimidating, but if you do not feel a connection to any of the other prompts, you may be considering seven’s creative route. Here are some ideas to consider for open-ended college essay prompts:

  • Write an essay about an extracurricular activity. 
  • Write an essay about a piece of art that inspires you. 
  • Write an essay about a story that is meaningful to you.
  • Write an essay that shows off your creative writing skills. 

If you are writing an essay in response to prompt number seven, remember the goal of the essay is to write a narrative and reflect on how the story has shaped you. If you have a story you want to tell that does not align with any of the six other prompts, then the Common Application has provided applicants with room to do so. 

Not all colleges use the Common Application essay prompts. When reviewing the application’s unique requirements for your admissions essay, you should read the instructions meticulously. You should also be sure to answer every question posed within the prompt. 

As you prepare to submit your college application essay, consider these tips for starting your essay and review the details any college essay should include. You can review the sample prompts provided by the Common Application to begin brainstorming topics and stories that provide insight into who you are as a person. 

Improve your college essay writing process by working with a writing consultant. FLEX College Prep’s essay consultants can assist you throughout any portion of the writing process. Whether you are brainstorming ideas, drafting your body paragraphs, perfecting your introduction, or revising your final draft, FLEX College Prep can guide you towards success. Get a free consultation to learn more about the benefits of working with a college consultant!

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