For rising seniors, it’s time to start gathering necessary items for college applications — SAT or ACT scores, volunteer and work records, a list of extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, college aid forms, and so forth. Getting this information can be time-consuming but relatively easy, especially if your student was organized through high school.

But there is still one daunting task that your teen needs to do for the college application – writing the essay.

I know parents who said their kids wouldn’t apply to schools that required an essay. Yes, that is an option, but do you really want your teen to exclude themselves from a great school just because they don’t want to write an essay?

I can empathize with these kids. Writing is not something I naturally like to do. I always wrote my papers at the last minute when I was in school. When I started my blogs, I had someone else write them. The thought of writing left me paralyzed. However, as I got more into my work, my comfort level grew. 

Why am I talking about writing a college essay now? College applications are not due for several months. College admission experts say it takes approximately two months to draft the essay. This includes coming up with a topic, drafting, editing, rewrites, etc. Summertime is an ideal time for your teen to start creating their essay. They have much more time to reflect, come up with ideas, and write the essay now than they will once school starts.

If you are considering hiring someone to write your teen’s essay, DON’T. The experts also advise not to pay someone to write your essay for you. Admissions staff can usually tell if the student didn’t write it themselves.

Here are two tips your teen can use to get started. I use them to help me when I write an article or blog post:

Start Talking – It’s much easier for me to talk something through than write it out. I will open my Notes app on my iPhone and press the microphone. It will automatically transcribe what I am saying. Then I email the notes to myself, copy them into a Microsoft Word document, and start editing. This method has saved me a lot of anxiety and time staring at a blank computer screen, wondering what to write.

Draw It – If your teen is more visual, they can create a mind map. (See example at the top of this blog post.) A central idea goes in the center. For example, your teen may list challenging experiences. Then around it, they draw branches of topics that tie to the main idea – failing a test, not getting the job, not being picked for a team, struggling in a class. They can also add another level of branches to delve deeper into each topic. Like, how the challenge felt, how they reacted, what they did. The mind map actually forms an outline for the essay.

Don’t let the essay process stop your teen from getting into their ideal college. With our Best Foot Forward package, your teen will receive an ego-boosting report that outlines all of their greatest strengths. They can use the data in the report as a starting point to help them elaborate on what makes them stand out from all the other college applicants.

Want to know even more about the college application process? Schedule a complimentary strategy session with me here.