Capstone College and Career Advising

Writing a College Essay – Tip #3 – Don’t Get Overwhelmed

December 5th, 2017 by
  As we mentioned in our last article, organization is the key to writing a good essay.  It is also essential to not becoming overwhelmed.  Learning how to time everything and complete all of the tasks associated with a college application is important to sending in a quality submission which will be competitive.  Without advanced planning and preparation, it can have an affect on you being accepted or being offered thousands of dollars in scholarships.  Therefore, there is a lot riding on your college application and the essay is usually the most time consuming and difficult part of the application itself.  As a result, the process can tend to be overwhelming and stressful.  In this article, I want to give you some suggestions to help keep the stress level down and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.
  1. Develop a strategy for your applications and essays. You can’t always know when an essay will appear in your application or even your portal so you need to assume there will be an essay or two for each application you fill out.  Even though a school may advertise an application with no essay, it does not mean you are in the clear.  Some schools will add an “optional” essay after the application process or may require an essay for their scholarship application.  When those new essays appear, you do not want to be burdened with a load of previous essays on your plate which you have put off until the last minute.  Otherwise, the workload will snowball and become overwhelming.
  2. Get ahead as quickly as you can. To keep from getting too overwhelmed, look for essays which are released early. Before the applications start, see if there are any essay prompts you can start on ahead of time.  For example, the Common App releases their essay prompts well in advance before the application.  This allows students an opportunity to have them completed and ready to submit as soon as you fill out the application.  This can save tons of time and really allow you to get ahead.  In addition, it makes those “pop-up” essays more manageable later in the process.  Another added bonus for completing those essays; often times, English teachers assign essay prompts at the beginning of a student’s senior year.  If you completed those in the summer or the end of your Junior year, that is one less assignment you need to worry about at a very busy time in your life.
  3. Carve out time to write. Students have busy schedules with activities and school work.  It is easy to put off completing your essays while you are busy with your other activities.  However, what happens most of the time, is you wait until the last minute and try to rush through an essay.  In the end, it doesn’t turn out to be your best work and the reader/reviewer can tell you rushed through it. Therefore, you need to schedule a time devoting solely for writing. If it is not scheduled, it will take a back seat to other priorities.  It may take scheduling some time you would normally use for recreation or rest time.  However, this is worthy of your time and attention.  There is too much riding on your essay.  It could mean the difference between thousands of dollars or getting into the college of your choice.  Therefore, you need to set aside plenty of time to do a great job on your essays.
Everyone goes through periods when life simply overwhelms them.  This is normal and often time unavoidable.  However, with a few simple tips, you can reduce the stress of the college application process simply by working through the progression logically and purposefully.