November 1 is a big day in the college admissions world! Many Early Action, Early Decision, and Priority deadlines tend to fall on this date, and while many pieces of the application may be ready to submit, students may still have uncompleted essays. Here are some tips to help you get them done in time!
- Fill Out the Common App ASAP! If you done so haven’t already, start by filling out your Common Application. Sometimes the simple act of reporting your grades or entering in your activities can spark a memory of a certain class or activity that could be the basis for one of your essays. Another great reason to start with the Common App (and ASAP)? The dreaded “surprise” essays…
- Beware of “Surprise” Essays. Certain majors or programs, honors colleges, and elective scholarships have essays separate from those required for admission, and these essays are often embedded in the application. There’s nothing like the unpleasant surprise of being ready to submit your apps, only to encounter a research-intensive essay that revealed itself only after you selected your major (looking at you, Nursing programs!) or answered “yes” when asked about applying to a school’s honors program.
- Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle. Often, you may be able to repurpose or reconstruct essays to fit prompts from multiple colleges. The best thing to do is take stock of all the supplemental essay prompts you’ll need to write, see which ones are similar, and write the one with the longest answer allowed first. Then you can pare down this response, insert any specifics about each college and be good to go. Many of our students find themselves applying to multiple colleges, for example, that ask a version of “How will you contribute to or benefit from our diverse learning community?” Once you decide on an angle, your response can be used to answer multiple versions of this question. The same may hold true for the question, “Why this major?” If you have crafted a response about why you are interested in studying political science, for example, most of this can likely be repurposed for multiple schools, although you may need to include specific aspects about what interests you about each school’s political science programs, depending on the wording of the prompt. Also, descriptions of activities, portrayals of academic interests, and characterizations of programs, institutions, or important people can often be reappropriated to new prompts.
- Know When To Start Over. Sometimes it’s best to let go of what was and just start over. Rather than trying to condense a 400-word activity description for one school into a 150-word description for another, it may be best to simply start from scratch with an essay (or activity) that is more fitting. Though it may not seem like it, this is often a more efficient process.
- Organize Your Drafts. For quick reference, organize your prompts and draft responses all in one Google Doc or folder. As you research college programs and other aspects that can help you craft your essays, include links right within the document itself. This will save valuable time when searching for a certain page detailing a program, or a certain turn of phrase from a prior draft.
- Maintain Perspective. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Remember, writing is never done, only due! Do the best you can, edit and proofread carefully, and then move forward.
- Get an Essay Coach! A knowledgeable editor can provide fresh insight and direction if you are stuck, procrastinating, or even just need another set of eyes on your essays. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office to get connected with a coach who can help get you to the finish line!