- As a high school teacher, Christina Baulch often works with students as they prepare to write their college admission essays, encouraging them as they weigh topics to consider the smaller moments in their lives rather than something they think was monumental, she writes for Edutopia.
- One method she uses to help students choose is to read essays written by peers from earlier years, in addition to running students through brainstorming exercises where they write one word personally meaningful to them for each letter of the alphabet before narrowing their choices to three and sharing those ideas with classmates.
- Finally, she asks students to rate their own ideas against a series of questions, including what the essay will “sell” to a college admissions officer.
One of the key components of most college applications is the essay. Students typically need to write one — if not more — when applying. For some, this can be a difficult process as they’re not crafting an objective piece on a book they’ve read or a topic they’ve studied, but a piece about themselves.
But educators, as high school teacher Christina Baulch wrote for edutopia, can help put students more at ease by walking them through the process in pieces. Turning to some outside experts can also help.
Carnegie Mellon University’s Eberly Center suggests educators have students start by asking key questions such as who their intended readers are and what they hope their essay will convince them of. The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests students turn to the people who know them best for some guidance. In the case of writing a personal essay, family and friends may help provide an outside view and even “unique qualities” about the student, who should ask their loved ones for examples that illustrate these strengths.
Administrators at schools can also encourage and support students in writing more often, long before senior year starts, to loosen their writing muscles, and potentially avoid that feeling of being stuck. One method to aid students in growing more comfortable with writing comes from Facing History and Ourselves, which notes journals are very valuable in helping “students become more fluent in expressing their ideas in writing.”
Students who develop more comfort around writing before they enter the college process may also find it less daunting when they’re asked to choose a topic about themselves, resulting in a higher likelihood of their completing an essay they’re proud of.