Figuring out what exactly to write about, how to best portray yourself, and what specific “slice-of-life” moments to include are the hardest parts of writing the college essay. Below are the four steps to brainstorming for the college essay. Follow these steps to get the creative juices flowing – you want to stand out in your essay. Be yourself, because you are who the college is looking for!
STEP 1: Choose 3 Adjectives That Describe You
Remember, an effective college essay reflects a part of you that has not come across in the numbers. So, if you want the admissions counselor to know that you are a funny guy, then your essay needs to exhibit your brilliant sense of humor. Or, if you want the admissions counselor to know that you are a very caring person, then you should write a “slice of life” essay that reveals this side of your personality.
STEP 2: Answer the WilsonPrep College Essay Brainstorming Questions
These questions – your favorite things, vacations, food, school experiences – will help define and show you your “slice-of-life” moments. For a complete list of questions to answer and reflect upon, email [email protected] and we will email you this brainstorming worksheet.
STEP 3: Create Your “Memorable Moments” Timeline
Think back as far as you can remember. From falling down when you were four years old and scraping your knee, to that piano recital in 4th grade, through junior prom – put your life down on paper!
STEP 4: Ask a Friend and a Relative to Complete the “That Is So You” Chart (My colleague and college essay specialist, Jocelyn Glantz, gave me this wonderful step.)
Often your friends and family know you better than you know yourself. They know the perfect moment and that perfect adjective that define you. Just ask a friend, parent, brother or sister (or anyone that knows you really well) to take a few moments to write down three adjectives and 2-3 moments that they think represent you. Make sure your friends and family vividly describe the memorable moment they associate with you.
After completing steps 1-4, you will have a comprehensive overview of YOU! Take some time to look over your answers and to go through your timelines and charts. Look for patterns – defining moments that are mentioned more than once, or ideas or themes that repeat.
Perhaps on your Memorable Moments timeline is the moment you painted your first picture. And, on your Brainstorming Questionnaire you wrote about how you love to cook on Saturday afternoons. In addition, your parents highlight the time your youth group raised a record amount of money implementing your fundraising idea. These moments scream one thing – creativity! All of these “moments” can be incorporated into an essay expressing your creative nature.
If you’re having trouble finding a central theme or topic idea, I highly recommend sharing all of this “you data” with someone you trust. Oftentimes you need a second pair of eyes to find that special something that would be perfect for a college essay.