Last week, a mom approached us in a store and asked when her son should start his college applications. Since he will be working at an overnight camp this summer, she wondered if he should begin the process in the spring or wait until fall.
This question is typical; our answer is standard: Start soon!
Spring is a great time to get a head start on the admissions process. The essay is the most difficult part of the application; students need time to learn how to express themselves, to do it right. Applicants can write about anything, as long as they tell the admissions folks what happened and why it matters when responding to a prompt. The good news is that the Common Application essay prompts haven’t changed since last year. There is no reason to wait.
If your child takes AP classes, the best time to begin college applications and the essay process is as soon as the tests are over. If your child is taking the SAT or ACT in the coming weeks, he or she should begin working on applications as soon as those tests wrap up. Too many finals and late spring commitments? Get started when school ends. Students can wait until fall, but why? Good writing takes time.
At Wow, we teach students how to share personal stories that show who they are in their own words, and in their own voices. We help them stand out from the crowd, using the Wow Method, a tried-and-true 10-step process.
Now wouldn’t it be better to begin that process sooner rather than later? Who really wants to spend the last days of summer or the fall of senior year writing essays?
A case in point: A few years ago, a student came to us asking for input on a few essays she had written for the University of Michigan; her mom thought something was missing. The essays were grammatically perfect, and the young woman had a knack for writing. But her mom was right: the stories read as if the student was standing on top of a mountain talking about someone down below. They didn’t feel like stories about her.
We noticed something immediately in three of her essays: she kept quoting Dr. Seuss. Did she want to write about a Dr. Seuss book? Would that feel more real?
“Can I do that?” she wondered.
Of course, we said. As long as the essay is genuine and is about you, you can write about anything at all. She was ecstatic (her dad not so much.)
Good thing she started the process at the end of her junior year. She had plenty of time to rework the essays, and we were able to guide her through a process that required several drafts.
In the end, the Dr. Seuss essay was beautiful; her voice shone through, and the story was genuine. No one could have written that story the way she did. She later showed her essay to an admissions officer for U of M; he loved it, and Dad forgave us.
This student is doing great at U of M, and she loves to write. This is what we like to hear.
Spring college essay classes start Saturday, May 14; we’re here and ready to help you stand out from the crowd. (We also have ACT/SAT writing prep classes running the next two weeks.)
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has a unique voice. Let us help you tell your story.