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The College Essay: Getting Started

Posted in Test Prep on February 16, 2010 by

This piece is from Andrew at He’s been in the SAT game for years, and he’ll post here from time to time with college essay tips.

A lot of the time, the hardest part of a college essay is just getting started. Too many schools, too many questions, not enough time. Not to mention, the way the essay prompts are written, they make it seem like you need to know what your life’s work is before you even graduate high school.

The name of the game for starting your college essay isn’t so much knowing exactly what you’re going to write, but which prompts you’re going to have to deal with in the first place. Once you have those assignments figured out, whittling down the amount of work you actually have to do can be a pretty easy job.

First, do yourself (and your parents) a favor and make a list of the schools you’re most interested in applying to, and try to identify your top choice. If you can’t pick a number one school just yet, that’s fine, you can worry about that later.

Then, once you’ve identified the schools you’re interested in, see how many of your essays ask similar questions. With a little organization, you can actually minimize the amount of work you have to do: think three essays instead of seven, five essays instead of twelve, that sort of thing.

College Essay OrganizerWe developed College Essay Organizer to help you see all your essay requirements in one place and show you how you can write as few essays as possible to answer all your required questions.

Doing this kind of work takes just a few minutes all together, and it helps you get your head off your desk and makes the whole essay process seem a lot more manageable than it used to be. Plus, when your parents come knocking on your door to find out if you’ve done anything with those gosh darned essays you’ll be able to say yes, thank you, please get me a beverage.