10/26/2011 09:36 am ET | Updated Dec 26, 2011

The Dreaded College Essay

To everything in senior year of high school there is a season. There is that excitement of starting school as a high school senior, the homecoming and football season, the anxiety provoking college application season, the possible acceptance and college rejection season, and finally prom season and graduation. The overwhelming fear of writing my college application essay made the application process all the more challenging.

I panicked and dreaded the thought of writing my college application essay. I even considered applying to schools without an essay requirement. I spent hours in September and October contemplating my college application essay. Sitting in front of the keyboard, I stared helplessly at my fingers, waiting for them to be inspired. I typed, edited and retyped my ideas for essay topics numerous times. How could I make my essay stand out from the thousands of college applications received in that admissions office? What could I write about that would have the admissions officers using my essay as an incredible example for future applicants? How can I write a profound and thoughtful essay?

Since I was running on my school's cross-country team, I wrote about my daily runs. It was not a great essay. On one hand, I was extremely fortunate in that my high school English teacher encouraged us to read and edit our peers' college essays in class. On the other hand, every essay I read of my classmates was much stronger than mine. I took the suggestions from my teachers and peers and made some minor improvements to my essay.

Of course, being less than enthusiastic about the process, I only wanted to write one essay that could easily fit every application and supplement. No unique, individual time-consuming essays for me. Avoid this approach. Customize each essay and try to make it unique and personalized for each question.

Looking back, my essay was mediocre at best. By far the best college essays I read of my peers in English class were those written about the most mundane issues. One of my classmates wrote about a bar of soap, another wrote about driving on a dark highway and my favorite essay was the most creative, on the benefits of eating cold leftover pizza.

Simple, plain language is always best. Your college essay is not the time to impress the admissions committee with your extensive eight-syllable vocabulary. It is the time to write about something you are passionate about. Engaging essays tell a story and have a strong and clear focus. By utilizing interesting and appealing details, the college application essay should reveal your passions and expose your individuality.

Request and obtain valuable feedback from your peers, teachers and high school guidance counselor. Your eyes tire, so it does help to have another set of eyes glance over the grammar and spelling of your essay. For high school seniors, it is time to get ready for the season of college application essay.

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