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Tips to Help Students Get Started on College Essays this Summer

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 09:47 AM

Summer Essay WritingThat Hardest Part is Taking that First Step! Here's How to Get Motivated

It’s summertime, so getting ahead on college application essays might sound like a bit of a drag. In between summer activities and spending time with friends and family, though, it’s important to get some academic work done, too.

Starting your personal statement for your college applications during summer break is one of the best—and easiest—favors you can do for yourself. Here are some tips that will help push you into productivity!  

  1. Find a study nook.

    Use your free time to find a café, library, or shady spot to use as your own personal workspace. According to Carnegie Mellon’s Academic Development website, even the most strategic of work plans can be ruined by a subpar study space, so choose wisely!

  2. Do your research—spreadsheets, to-do lists, and agendas are the perfect organizational tools!

    Different colleges may require different lengths and topics for application essays. Some colleges, like the University of Chicago, have started to release 2014-15 essay prompts and even open up their applications early. Keeping tabs on what the colleges on your list want—and don’t want!—is an easy way to get ahead of tasks you might otherwise be forced to complete during the school year.

  3. Use the weather to your advantage.

    Sitting inside doing college research and brainstorming essay topics can be stressful and tiring. Weather permitting, working on essays in the sunshine can allow you to catch some rays and get some work accomplished. You can even prepare a small picnic basket of snacks (blueberries, yogurt, and avocados are excellent brain foods!) to bring with you on your summertime outing.

  4. Start carrying a small notebook in your backpack, bag, or pocket —just jotting down ideas is enough!

    Finding a viable idea to get an essay started is a common struggle shared among college applicants. The best personal statement ideas can come from the thoughts and ideas that cross your mind at random times. Just handwrite the crazy ideas as they come—you can cull through them later!

  5. Brainstorm with some friends.

    Your closest friends know you best, so employ a few of your best buds to help you brainstorm. They’ll be able to give candid “yay”s or “nay”s in response to your college essay ideas, and that will really help streamline your thoughts before you start putting pen to paper.

  6. Use your free time to catch up on your personal reading list.

    Many supplements will ask you about your favorite books, newspapers, magazines, and periodicals. It’s easy to lose track of these things in the midst of a full high school course load, so stock up on copies of the New Yorker and National Geographic and get reading! Additionally, reading on a regular basis can help improve your writing.

  7. Talk to your family members about special memories that exemplify your personality.

    Personal statements often draw material from personal anecdotes. Talking to members of your family can give you ideas for essay topics, as well as deepen your understanding of your own personal growth.  For example, if you’re an aspiring statistics major, it might be helpful to hear your mother’s story about how your second grade self would add up her grocery tabs for fun.

Working on your college essays doesn’t have to be a strefful, long haul ordeal that takes up the entirety of your summer vacation. Sometimes getting started is as easy as jotting down a few thoughts or having a nice conversation with your parents. As easy as it is to put off college applications for “tomorrow,” just remember that July is already here—there’s just one month left until the 2014-2015 Common App launches! Don’t let it take you by surprise.


Written by IvyWise

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