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An Easy Plan for Starting Your College Application Essays Over the Summer

Summer is a great time to get a head start on your college application essay. Get started with these quick brainstorming and writing tips from a real student!

As you enter your late high school years, college and hopes for the future become a huge part of your life. Aspirations that you’ve had since you were a child start to become reality when you finally apply to the college(s) of your dreams. These application processes are long, starting with building your résumé early on in high school and working your way to the final essay that reviews your character, your dreams, and how this college plays into your future plans. Since the admission essay holds so much weight, starting yours over the summer is a great way to ensure that you can apply for early admission and have more time to focus on schoolwork during your junior and/or senior years. Here are some quick tips on writing a college essay over the summer.

Brainstorming ideas

  • They can be serious or silly: College essays are a reflection of you, and no story is too big or too small to be told. Whether you have a unique experience that shaped who you are today or you have a really strong connection with Pizza Hut, write about what makes you you.
  • Relate the topic to you: Colleges want to know who you are outside of academics and test scores. They also want to know why you’re interested in their program and what you’ve overcome in life. If you’re writing in a serious tone, make the story center around one theme; if you’re writing about an unconventional or silly topic, make sure there is an overarching theme that relates back to you and your unique characteristics or challenges.
  • Look toward the future: College always has an end goal of graduation. If admission officers don’t sense an assurance in the future of your goals, they may be less likely to accept your application. Dedicate a small segment of your essay to how this particular college will play into your future and further your education.

Related: 5 Ways to Brainstorm Your College Essays

Making a schedule

Summer is a busy time for many teenagers. As jobs take up more of your time and you lose track of personal projects, scheduling some writing time weekly or biweekly allows you to enjoy your summer while slowly getting your applications ready for the fall. When planning your schedule, take into consideration the application deadlines for the colleges of your choice, and also think about how your schedule fits in with each deadline and what gives you the best chance of acceptance.

Writing tips

  • Be clear and concise: When writing your college essay, you don’t have the advantage of the reader knowing you, which means your writing has to be clear in order to get your point or story across. Avoid using big, complicated words to sound smart; instead, use words that keep your reader engaged.
  • Show your voice, not others: Admission officers read hundreds of applications a year, so it’s crucial to make your college essay stand out if you want to be considered. Write in your own style, use humor when appropriate, and show the officers why you would be a successful student in their program.
  • Take your time: Starting your essay during the summer is a great way to make sure your writing doesn’t come across as rushed. Taking your time to perfect the little things such as punctuation and pretenses shows officers that you’re serious about being admitted to that college.


Proofreading is one of the most important parts of your college essay. After you write your first draft, read it out loud to yourself. If anything sounds weird when said aloud, rephrase it. Then have a family member read your essay; adults are more likely to point out punctuation and grammatical errors. Lastly, have a friend read through it; they’ll give you pointers through the eyes of a teenager, which can help make your writing come across more clearly.

Related: College App Proofreading Tips From an Editor–in–Chief

Most importantly…have fun! Summer is about letting loose and freeing your mind. When entering your final years of high school and beginning the college admission process, making memories is a big part of the experience and can turn into great material for your essays. And when you get a head start during the summer, colleges will see the effort and personality you put into your writing.

Learn everything there is to know about writing a great admission essay with Our Best Advice for College Application Essays.

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About Gracie O’Brian

Gracie O’Brian

Gracie O'Brian is a high school freshman residing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She's a part of her school's swim, speech and debate, and tennis teams. During her free time, Gracie enjoys reading and crocheting while watching TV. She also loves hanging out with her hedgehog, Nala, and going on walks with her dog, Hazel. Gracie works as a junior florist at her local flower shop. She hopes that being a CollegeXpress Student Writer will offer insight to other aspiring college students!


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