Jenn Curtis, Guest Post
It is an experience familiar to every student: The feeling of dread slowly creeps in, tension replaces the mindlessness of a sunny day spent on the beach, and all too important tasks such as “tweeting” and Facebooking seem to grow in their necessity. It is time to begin that college essay, but somehow procrastination techniques deftly manage to pop up everywhere. As you probably already know, summer is the best time to begin your college essays. Before the hustle and bustle of cheerleading and chess club set in, summer makes for the perfect time to put pen to paper and give those essays a go.
The college essay is one of the most important parts of any student’s application—it is the one piece of the application puzzle in which he can let himself shine. That is to say, the essay is where his boisterous personality, or her hard-working but humble demeanor, will come out in a voice uniquely his or her own. I’ve come up with some tips to ward off that pesky procrastination so that you can get down to business!
- Set reasonable goals: The writing task is overwhelming…I know! Set a goal to dedicate a certain amount of time per week from now until the end of summer to get your essays done. Remember, set a goal both that you are willing to work toward and that is reasonable given your other commitments. You are more likely to work to achieve your goal if you believe it is doable.
- Take small bites…Reap big benefits: By this I mean that if the thought of brainstorming for 3 hours straight overwhelms you (and it should!), brainstorm for 30 minutes, take a break, and then come back and do a little more. Break up the brainstorming process so that you do a little each day over several days. Not only will you be giving yourself a break, but also your fresh mind will be more alert and you will likely come up with brilliant thoughts surprising even to you!
- Reward yourself: Make small incentives for yourself to achieve your goals. For instance, if you finish your introductory paragraph one day, treat yourself to some ice cream or a movie with some friends.
- Remind yourself that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel: I’ve told you once, and I’ll tell you again: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here! Many students put off the writing process because they are waiting for some big epiphany, or they feel they have to write about finding the cure to a rare Amazonian disease. That’s simply not true! An essay about your job, for example, can be quite interesting; just make sure your own unique perspective can be felt throughout, that you are showing and not telling, and that you are taking your reader through your experience with you…and remember, writing can be fun!
FutureWise consultants are at once strategists, motivators, drill sergeants, cheerleaders, and confidantes. Jenn Curtis is the co-founder and Director of College Counseling.