Listen to me, believe me next week, and hate me later


Before I go on, maybe I should just tell you the rules that I tell my students about college essays. They are pretty simple, and as I said in an earlier post, I will be showing some models to you soon. These are the five key rules. While you may not like what I say, do it, get into college, and hate me anyway.

  1. It is always about you. The focus of the essay should be something you want to show about yourself.
  2. The essay is most easily written in narrative form. Tell a story about a time that shows you doing something that shows you.
  3. Notice the shows—show you doing what you’re passionate about.
  4. Find the unique. See my earlier posts about seeking good topics and try the Lish exercise.
  5. No more than 1 typed, single-spaced, 1 inch margin word document. If you can’t get an idea onto a single page, don’t bother. College admissions officers read 1000s of these essays. If you haven’t gotten out our idea in 300 words, you’re in trouble. And, I don’t care if the application says you can write more or you can write as much as you want. Only the foolish wander down that path.

Trust me!