This is usually the time of year that we focus on ways to prepare for the college essay, which many students generally begin writing at the end of their junior year—presumably in June. But lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions from parents, professionals, and students about the college essay: Should students start now while they’re home?
The answer to this question doesn’t have a simple answer. We understand these are unsettling, stressful times. And news about college admission for the high school Class of 2020 has been changing by the minute since the COVID-19 pandemic began. So underclassmen: let’s talk about if now is the right time to start your college admission essay.
What to do with your time
What are you supposed to do with all this additional free time? Likely, you’ve still got schoolwork, with many schools taking classes online (although some have shut down entirely). Much of everything else has been canceled: sports, dances, clubs, jobs. You can’t hang out at Starbucks with your friends or go shopping at the mall. You can chat on Instagram or Snapchat and binge-watch your favorite shows on your preferred streaming service. But to be honest, we know there’s not much else to do right now.
Deciding what’s important
Before making a decision about whether or not you should start writing your college essay, ask yourself:
- Does writing your Common App essay sound like something you want to do now?
- Does it sound too stressful with everything going on?
Once you’ve determined the answers to those questions, ask yourself these ones next:
- Why are you going to write a college essay?
- Why now?
- Is it urgent that you write any college essay now?
If you decide to start your essay, consider this…
Right now, more than ever, don’t forget the fundamentals: Plan. Process. Schedule.
Unless you can reliably start the Common App essay and finish it soon, it won’t work. Make sure you have a plan to finish what you start. Make sure you have a process to follow so you know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And make sure you can stick to a schedule. Everything is up in the air right now. You might need help staying focused.
Unless the college essay is something you can focus on—and I mean really focus on without intruding thoughts about our current situation—it won’t work. Were you going to wing it? Slow down. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to stick to a routine. You need a plan. You need a schedule. You need a process to get it done without losing momentum.
So back to that original question: Should students start working on college essays now? Ask yourself the right questions, and you’ll come up with the right answer.
Planning for the future
Now is also a good time to learn more about the college process, even if you’re not quite ready to continue on with it. It can be hard to write about yourself, especially when the stakes are so high. Prepare now so you can write your college essay when you’re ready.
Stay healthy. We’re sending warm and calming thoughts to all of you.
Join a free hour-long webinar with Wow Writing Workshop on April 7 at 7:00 pm to learn how to prepare for your college essay. If you’re not ready to start and are stressing about COVID-19, here’s a bunch of resources we’ve gathered to help get you through it!