Searching for College Application Essays to Publish!
It been a little over five years since I published my best-selling collection of sample college application essays, called Heavenly Essays.
Most of the essays were written by former students, although I also included a handful by other students who submitted their pieces for me.
Now, I would love to add about a dozen new essays to this collection to keep it fresh and timely. (Mainly personal statement essays used for the Common App, Coalition App, Questbridge App and others core essays.)
Anyone is welcome to send in essays. Of course, I especially love hearing from former clients, but I know many other students have written excellent essays as well.
In Heavenly Essays, I included the essay, along with the student’s name, city/state/country, and school attended. At the end of each essay, I have written a short analysis where I shared my thoughts on what worked well and why, and what writing devices, ideas or techniques the writer used effectively. My goal is for students who read these essays, and my analyses, to learn how to craft their own narrative essays.
I believe one of the best ways students can learn how to write engaging and meaningful personal statement essays for their college applications is to read what others have written.
Not only can they get a sense of how these story-telling style essays are structured, and notice the more casual style and authentic voices, but students can also find inspiration for their own topic ideas.
Who knew you could write a killer essay about collecting trash, or messing up a food order while waiting tables, or coming from a family with big hips?
Those of you who have worked with students on their essays college admissions counselors, English teachers and even parents are all welcome to submit essays for my collection. Of course, you need to get the student’s permission.
You can either copy and paste them in an email, or attach them as Word or Google docs, and send them to my email: EssayHell@gmail.com
Please feel free to ask me any questions, too.
In my opinion, I think this is a great opportunity not only to share students’ work and inspire others, but publishing a personal piece of writing is a nice accomplishment.
I’m also happy to send a free copy of my collection of Heavenly Essays to anyone who wants to submit essays for these additions. Again, just send me an email.
My Step-by-Step Guide
(I also have a long-standing offer to anyone who buys any of my writing guides on Amazon, either digital or paperback version—Escape Essay Hell, Heavenly Essays or The Writing Survival Kit and departs a short star-rating and remarks on its Amazon sales page, is welcome to a free digital copy of my guides.to kill a mockingbird thesis statements Just let me know if you left a review and what book you would like.)
So you have thought of a topic you want to write about in your college application essay.
I’m guessing it will end up in one of these three categories: the Good, the Bad or the Ugly.
If so, here’s tips on how to approach them so they make effective essays.
#1: how-to Write About the GOOD in Your College Application Essay
Of course colleges would you like to hear about all the GOOD stuff you have done in everything so far, especially during your high school years. And it’s natural to stuff your college application essays with all those glowing facts about your achievements, your accomplishments, your shining personality and your stellar character.
Stop right there! The last thing you want to do with your essay is cram it full of lists each and every good or impressive thing you have done. Not only would your essay be dull as dirt, but your application will already be laden up with facts about your impressive grades, extra-curricular activities, awards, internships, etc.
Also, an essay that only talks about your good side can easily tip into a tone that comes across as boastful or arrogant, which is off-putting to readers (aka admissions officers).
Then how do you talk about something good about yourself in your essay?
Easy! Start with something not so good about yourself.
If you are showcasing an accomplishment, start with a time when you were just starting to work towards it. Look for obstacles or challenges that were in your way. Share your frustrations, defeats, mistakes, conflicts, missteps, etc. After that, you’ll shift into how you overcame them and ultimately conquered your goal.
The point of sharing an accomplishment, achievement or something good about yourself in a personal statement essay is not only to let schools know what you did or how wonderful you may be but how you did it or got by doing this, why you did it, and what you learned in the process. That is what should make up the bulk of your essay should you want to talk about the Good in your essay.
You may strike the right tone if you were first humbled by the challenge or obstacle. When you share how you worked toward your achievement, accomplishment or personal growth goal, you may indirectly reveal your impressive qualities.
Best of all, your college application essay will be interesting to read! What good is an essay if no one wants to read beyond the first sentence or two?
Start with the Bad and then move into the Good! Works every time!
#2: how-to Write About the BAD in your College Application Essay
I think topics about your Bad stuff typically make the strongest essays. They are the most interesting, and also give you the best platform to shift into all your valuable Good stuff.
RELATED: Find Your Problems
I write lot about how precisely problems make awesome topics. If you think about problems you have faced in your past especially the every day, mundane ones you will discover your little mini-stories, incidents, moments and experiences to power your essays. When you face a problem (challenge, obstacle, change, mistake, phobia, flaw, conflict…), it means that something happened. If something happened, then it’s interest to read about. It is possible to show how you turned that problem into a Good thing because you dealt with it and learned something in the process.
When brainstorming topics for your essay, trust the times you had to manage problems. Almost any kind can work. You may be terrified of the dark. You spent too much money at Target. You got caught gossiping about your best friend. You spilled coffee on a customer during your Starbucks job. You forgot your mom’s birthday. You got off the bus in the wrong neighborhood. You broke your dad’s favorite power tool. You dyed your hair orange by accident. You couldn’t afford the cost of your school trip to France.
Maybe you can’t believe you could spin a effective essay from a bad thing that happened to you. Won’t it be a giant downer and turn off your target schools?
Don’t believe me? Try reading some sample essays and see if you can spot some Bad stuff and see how the writer turned it into an interesting and meaningful essay that ended up showcasing a lot of Good stuff. (Just put Sample Essay into the search box on this blog to find some. I also have a collection of sample essays available on Amazon, called Heavenly Essays.)
#3. How to Write about the UGLY in Your College Application Essay
When I say Ugly, I’m talking about the extreme Bad stuff. If you are lucky, there’s no necessity any Ugly that you know. That’s great!
However, many students have faced some really challenging realities and experiences. These can range from financial hardships to prejudices to illness, injury, death and other personal tragedies.
Should they write about these if they were so horrific?
I say YES. How could these circumstances or experiences not have shaped who they are, most likely in really Good ways?
That said, these highly dramatic or sensational topics can be tricky to write about.
What you want to avoid is an essay that describes all the Ugly stuff and only the Ugly stuff. Even though these details can be very moving and interesting, the essays need to be mainly about how precisely the students handled these issues, and turned them into something positive as best as possible.
In fact, the most intense, tragic or Ugly the experience or situation, the less the student needs to write about it. Typically, a paragraph or two will convey enough for the reader to understand how hard it was. After that, time to shift into how the student dealt with the Ugly or handled it, and then what they learned from that process.
Another trick to handling a highly sensitive, emotional or tragic topic in a personal essay is to look for a smaller piece of that topic. Look for an example of the larger issue to fairly share at the start of the essay, and then describe later the larger challenge. For-instance, if a student writes about losing a parent, look for a moment, incident or experience that shows a related problem due to that loss. Maybe the student needs to find a resourceful way to get to school because no one is there to drive them. Or the student has learned how to buy groceries to feed the family now that mom is gone. ( Notice that these are smaller ‘problems’ that relate to the larger Ugly ‘problem.’)
Writing about these types of highly personal and often deeply painful topics can be extremely challenging. I think they can make powerful topics for college application essays if the student feels ready to explore and share them. Give it a try. If it’s too hard, bag it. There are many other topics available to you!
Again, read sample essays to see how other students handled all those types of topics the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Here’s a link to a few essays from Heavenly Essays to get you started ( the second one, by Alex Segall is an excellent example of how to write about the Ugly): Sample Essays
Good luck! Remember, it’s not what you write about, but what you have to say about it that matters the most in these essays!