A college application is little more teaching essay writing to high school students names and numbers. The numbers include SAT score, class rank, and GPA.
The names include classes taken, sports, clubs, and activities, as well as awards and recognitions. While these elements may give a snapshot of a student’s academic background, there’s little to no soul to that snapshot. That’s where the essay comes in. It’s an opportunity to humanize an application. It’s a chance for students to shine a light on who they are and what has shaped them.
It allows them to show that they’re more than just a transcript—they have an identity. Get the best of Edutopia in your inbox each week. That’s what makes it so intimidating. When you can write about anything, how do you know what to say? And how do you sum up who you are in one essay?
To complicate matters, most of the essay writing that students do in high school is argumentative writing. A college essay is a personal narrative, and introspection is not in most students’ wheelhouse. I’ve taught seniors for nearly a decade and have read thousands of college essays. I don’t have anything worth writing about. I know what I want to say.
I just don’t know how to say it. My essay is a big, hot mess. It’s all over the place, and I don’t know what I’m doing with it. Our job is to guide students through the writing process in a way that gives them the courage and confidence to write a college essay they’re proud of. Three Things to Tell Your Students1. So many students believe that they need to have the perfect idea and the most amazing first line before they even put pen to paper.