By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop
The summer before your senior year can be stressful when college is on your mind. But because we know it is important to remain calm yet also get a lot of work done before you start your senior year, we’re going to share some of the strategies that have worked best for our students, year after year.
- Be Yourself. Don’t spend too much time worrying about how you are going to appear to colleges. Do you like playing tennis? Play tennis. Do you have a job? Keep working. Are you a dedicated researcher? Work in the lab. Embrace who you are, and only participate in activities that make sense.
- Have fun. It’s summer, so make sure you save time to hang out with your friends and chill. Relax by the pool. Go to the beach or on a road trip to your favorite theme park. Find the best spot to watch the Fourth of July fireworks. Explore museums, attend concerts or play sports.
- Focus on what you can control. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for a leadership program or summer service trip to enhance your college application, or to find a topic for a college essay. Go on the trip or the program, but only if you love it. Colleges value your junior year grades more than other years, and you are done. Grades are in. You cannot do anything to change the record. You’ve already taken the ACT or SAT, however, you can retake them if necessary. Focus on the message you want to share with colleges in your essays – the only thing you can still control!
- Research colleges. Do your homework, and identify the qualities you are looking for in a college. Will you be comfortable on a large campus? Does small sound more appealing? Do you like rural or urban, private or public? What programs interest you? Do you like science? Urban planning? Psychology? English literature? Summer is quiet on college campuses, and it’s a great time to visit or reach out to the admissions office with questions.
- Ask Yourself, “Who am I?” You probably have not spent much time thinking about how you got to this place in your life, or how you became the person you are today. But it will be a big help to dig a bit deeper and reflect on your life before you start writing your college essay. It’s time to get reflective. Who are you? What makes you tick? How did you get to be this way? What are your best features? Are you smart? Spiritual? Kind? Funny? Motivated? Ask your parents, friends and siblings what they like about you. Then ask yourself, “What will colleges know about me after I submit grades, test scores, extracurricular activities?” And, “What else do I want them to know?” Write it down. Think about traits and characteristics, not accomplishments.
- Start your personal statement. After you decide what’s important to you, start working on your personal statement. We encourage our students to complete at least one essay over the summer; it takes about two weeks to complete that first essay using our simple, step-by-step system with a private writing coach. After that, students can manage multiple supplements at once. Keep in mind, the essay rounds out your application and adds a personality to what is otherwise a pile of data. Colleges want to know what’s important to you, who you are, and why it matters. Yet more than half of the students who apply to college fail to offer any real insight in their college essays, or do not answer the question asked. Our coaches are trained to help you do it right.