Struggling With Your College Application Essay?

Advice is easy. Writing is hard. After reading this New York Times column by Rachel Toor, you might still not know what to write, but it might bring you closer to your subject. One thing Toor doesn’t say is that the Common Application prompts are your friends: they are there to help you tell your story.

If you’re still flummoxed about what your story is or how to tell it, shoot me an email and we can brainstorm together. Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com

“Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty members who sit around a big table covered with files. The admissions people, often young and underpaid, buzz with enthusiasm; the professors frequently pause to take off their glasses and rub their eyes.

“These exhausted folks, hopped up from eating too many cookies and brownies, have been sitting in committee meetings for days after spending a couple of months reading applications, most of which look pretty similar: baseball = life, or debate = life, or “I went to a developing country and discovered poor people can be happy.”

“They wade through long lists of candidates, state by state, region by region. The best applications and the weakest don’t come to committee. It’s the gigantic stack in the middle that warrants discussion.

“The truth is, most essays are typical. Many are boring. Some are just plain bad. But occasionally one will make an admissions officer tear down the hallway to find a colleague to whom she can say, “You have to read what this Math Olympiad girl said about ‘Hamlet.’ ” Your goal is to write an essay that makes someone fall in love with you.

“Once you commit the time and emotional energy to get your butt in the chair to write, you face a daunting task — figuring out what to write about. If you’re stuck, you’re in good company. With so much freedom, this is a challenge for most students. Continue reading the main story