Use your college essay to show who you are

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by Billy Bannon
Eagle Editorial Board

To procrastinate and avoid the overwhelming but inevitable task of writing my college application essays, I assigned myself a newspaper article that motivates seniors to write their college application essays.

For those who have completed their applications and been accepted to their first choice college, congratulations.

For those who have not finished, the deadline is approaching.

The topics and number of essays vary for each college, but on applytexas.com, the two required topics are “someone who has made an impact on your life and how and why this person is important to you” and “an issue of importance to you.”

The third optional essay topic, recommended for those who do receive automatic acceptance, is “personal information such as exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities.”

Some can write naturally and conceive a well-developed essay, catered to the liberal-minded college admissions offices, in one, maybe two hours tops.

Others, myself included, cringe at the thought of attempting to sit still and organize a jumble of ideas into coherent, structured sentences.

The mind exhaustively exerts each word like beads of sweat, dripping from your forehead onto the sheet of paper. When finished, the draft is a soggy mess in desperate need of revisions.

The single best piece of advice that soothed my anxieties about the essays was from “Essays that Worked: 50 Essays from Successful Applications to the Nation’s Top Colleges” by Baykin Curry and Brian Kasbar.

Curry and Kasbar say, “Urge students to write as they would in a diary or a letter to a friend. When you write a letter, you may ramble, but when you’re finished, your letter sounds like something you would really say.”

You do not need to strangle your essays with the five paragraph introduction, body and conclusion format that teachers have hammered into your mind since middle school.

You are crafting a love letter, praising your extraordinary talents and achievements, addressed to the college of your dreams.

Why can’t every school assignment be like this?

If you experience writer’s block, imagine that you are writing a letter to a friend, or to be more up-to-date, a long text message without the lol’s or smiley faces. Be brief, concise, and, most importantly, honest.

The guidance counselors have stressed that the applications of two average Joes, alike in every respect, will be set apart by their essays.

Invest ample time into your essays because they could be the keys to the college of your dreams.

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