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For Those Who Are Not Gifted Writers…Writing College Essays Can be Enlightening


Especially as a school counselor retired from the Cherry Creek High School mentioned in this series, I love reading the blogs written by six Cherry Creek students for The Choice: Demystifying College Admissions and Aid. For those of you who don’t know it, this is the blog published by the New York Times and edited by The Gatekeepers author Jacques Steinberg.  Take a look at this series especially.  The six students are articulate and diverse, discussing first hand the angst and issues of this time of year in the application cycle.
On Dec. 20, Cherry Creek senior Michael Campbell’s post focuses on the art of application completion. “This essay-writing process is no small task – I must perfect, in addition to the Common Application short response and personal statement, 18 other essays of various lengths – but I hesitate to call it toilsome or punishing. On the contrary, it has been my favorite part of the application process, both invigorating and enlightening.”
As you will see clearly from this post, Michael is very bright and probably both a gifted and a well trained writer; Cherry Creek Schools are well known for excellence in writing instruction across the K-12 curriculum.  But how will you fare if you writing is not your forte?
First, find an application completing buddy.  This could be a teacher, an educational consultant, a school counselor, a friend, a sibling or a parent.  Talk with that person about the stories, passions and perspectives that lie inside of you and examine yourself to find two or three things that you would most want a college to know.  If you spend some time in this exploration, and have someone to explore with you, you will find topics of real depth and importance. Your writing task will be so much easier and more authentic if you have settled on something you want to share with your application readers.
On the Common Application, use one topic for your short answer and another for your longer essay.  Choose something else to share on a supplement.  Then write.  Let it settle.  Re-write.  Have your buddy give you feedback. As you know, proofread and spellcheck and proofread again.
If you take the time and get some help to purposefully determine what you want the schools of your dreams to know about you, even you can, as Michael says, “compellingly cram your personality and your voice into the confines of a few short responses.”  You may even feel invigorated and enlightened!
Barb Elbot
Educational Consultant


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