Writing a Winning College Essay! - Part 2

Summary - How to write the #collegeessay, with tips from certified college counselors.  Picking the right college essay prompt from the list provided on the Common Application or the college application from the individual college. And tips for editing and writing your college essay.  #collegeadmissionsprocess #homeschooltocollege

Do you have a high schooler who is aiming towards college?  Or do you have a senior who will be starting the application process this fall?

Writing the college essay was one of the things that my teen actually dreaded.  But by taking it step by step, she found that it was not that hard to do after all.

Today, I'd like to share Part 2 of my series on the college essay, with links and resources to help your teen write a winning essay.  

In part 1, of Writing a Winning College Essay, we did some brainstorming and found the essay prompts for the Common Application.  When we got it out again, my daughter still wasn't sure which essay prompt to use......

SO....then when we both piled into the car......

And there my teen made her decision on which essay prompt she would use.  Sometimes inspiration comes more from the 
breaks that we take....

By spending those few minutes out in nature, somewhere in those beautiful waves, my daughter found her answer and was ready to get writing.

Picking the Essay Topic

My teen decided to write about her youth conference, an event that had a lot of personal meaning for her, and something that she was passionate about.  

This is the actual essay prompt that she chose (from the choices in 2013)....... 

SAMPLE - Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

When we arrived home, my teen sat down and began her first draft! She worked on it for a few days, then we let it sit some more.  And headed out to look at the fall leaves.....


When she got it out again, she took a fresh look at it, and saw that it needed some revisions.  Reviewing the structure of a good essay is a great thing to do with your teen when they are revising or before they start writing.

Here's two resources for doing just that:

1.   Writing an Essay by QUT University
2.   Basic Essay Structure from CSSC


Then I suggested some editing points.....The revising should be done independently, but an adult can offer some help in the editing of the college essay, in my opinion. 

Did you know that you can do that?  It is important that this essay be, of course entirely written by the student, but many essay help services recommend having another person read it over.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation and organization of the essay are crucial.  Having your teen read their essay over multiple times, for editing was important.  

Advice from College Counselors

"Decide which topic has the most potential; it should be something that you feel strongly about so that it really comes alive when you write about it." ..........from  11 Tips for Writing the College Essay, by the American School Counselor Association

"Write about common topics, real experiences that you teen has had and how they were meaningful to them.  Avoid being too creative or controversial." 
........from Nancy Burgoyne, of Fat Envelope Essays

"A good essay will generally deal with....... a single incident or a small part of your experience. Don't try to cram everything in. .Additionally, since you are limited on space, you should avoid listing your accomplishments. These things will appear on your transcript and in other parts of the application."
......from Homeschool World  -Your College Admissions Essay,  Austin Webb

And if you are writing about hardships, I recommend focusing on the positives, not the difficulties, but speak to how they were overcome.  This shows the college your student's problem solving skills, and motivation, and resilience!

But Where Can I Get Some Help?

1.  From IEW: Writing an Eye-Catching College Application Essay---Posted by Genevieve in College Prep  http://iew.com/help-support/blog/writing-eye-catching-college-application-essay

2. From 7 Sisters Homeschool: 

Guide to Writing a College Application Essay, written by a homeschool college counselor, Vicki Tillman-- is a frugal and simple-to-use guide to the college essay.  Using this frugal college essay guide can really help build up your teen's confidence....and help get them writing.

So that's how we went about tackling the college essay. And, boy, did it feel good to get it uploaded!  Choosing which essay prompt to use, one that inspired my daughter, was key for us.

Have you seen my book yet?

College in Mind - 2nd Edition

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschool
collegegifted/2e and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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  1. This is a very practical, easy to follow post!! Thanks for sharing at Inspired By Me Mondays :) Hope you come back again!!!

    1. Thanks, +Rachel DeBruin, for your comment. And I enjoyed the posts on Inspired By Me Mondays, great place to share, too!


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