Summer is the best time for high school juniors to begin the college application process.  So what should you focus on this summer?  Over the next several weeks, we will be discussing how students can begin crafting their best application.

There are two key components to creating your best application – starting early (remember, summertime is best) and breaking down the application process into smaller chunks (we’ll walk you through that part).   These two strategies will help make the process low stress and big success.

The first chunk of the application process that you can start getting ready for right away is the essay.  The Common Application has released all of the essay prompts for the 2017 – 2018 application.  The best essays colleges will see this year usually got that way because the writer got an early start.  As Hemingway said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” And you’ll want as much time to rewrite as you can get.

But don’t fear the essay– you don’t need to write like Hemingway.  Colleges aren’t looking for award winning prose. They just want to see if you can write in a coherent and organized fashion, without spelling or grammatical errors, and in a way that shows that you’re ready for college.  And, just as important, the essay should let them see who you are.  Admissions officers are trying to get a sense of your interests, values, and passions.  They want to hear your unique voice and your authentic self.  That’s why it’s vital that a student’s essay comes from his or her own pen – not a tutor’s or college counselor’s.

In the end, your college essay will require some hard work.  You may have to go through 10 drafts before it’s where you want it to be.  That’s why beginning early is the key to success on the essay.  We recommend you begin loosely drafting your essay during the summer of junior year and revisit it regularly. Every time you reread it, you’ll see places that you can improve, or would just like to change. Then, you can have a final draft ready to go before you begin your senior year of high school, and never have to worry about it.

So how should you get started?  Read the prompts on the Common Application webpage and start picking out the ones you like best.  If you have an inkling that you might apply to some schools that do not use the Common Application, then check their admissions literature to read those prompts too.  Pick out the writing topic or topics that will give you your best essay, and start the brainstorming.   For step-by-step help in beginning your draft, look for next week’s post.[/fusion_text]