The summer before senior year in high school is a great time to begin working on college essays. . . but there are a couple of considerations. First, many students will have pivotal or unusual experiences during this summer that they are not quite yet ready to record, let alone reflect upon. Second, private colleges and universities wait to post their supplemental essay topics until late summer, so these topics won’t be available until early August.
Nonetheless, the topics for the Common Application and for public are available now, and at the very least, students should familiarize themselves with these topics. Freewrite or brainstorm for 5 minutes on each prompt and see which ones you have the most to “say” about.
Another important task or activity for this summer is journal writing. Before trying to tackle the essay prompts themselves, it’s a good idea to generate some “raw material” through free writing or journal keeping. Dedicate a separate notebook to journal writing. Keep track of interesting or important events, activities or observations and then describe your reaction to them.
Here are a few additional suggestions for journal topics:
--Reflect on the high and low points of your past school year; what made these experiences rewarding, frustrating, or exciting? What did you learn from each?
--List 20 adjectives that describe your personality, then circle three of them and freewrite for 5 minutes on each of these. What events or situations have revealed these traits to others?
--Evaluate two of your greatest character strengths and two main weaknesses. Might your weaknesses be related to your strengths in some way? How might you overcome your weaknesses or convert them into strengths?
--How might your best friend describe you? Your favorite teacher? Your parents?
--Make a list of what knowledge, skills, experiences and relationships you hope to gain from college. How will you accomplish these?