Buckle Up! It’s Time to Prep the Next Class for Writing Essays

This is the time of year many high school juniors (and even sophomores!) start to get nervous about the journey to college. Seniors are either done, or at the end of the college admissions process; some have been admitted to their dream schools, while others were deferred or rejected. Parents are starting to ask questions, too.

College talk is all the rage.

You already know the journey to college can be overwhelming. Confusing. Distressing. But there’s no need for your students and their parents to panic. We want to help you guide your students you through this process with minimal stress.

Here’s our No. 1 tip to help you get your juniors (and even sophomores and freshmen!) prepped a little earlier than you might normally consider for this exciting  journey to college: Writing a college essay is all about reflection. Your need to learn how to reflect! And now is a perfect time to start teaching them how to do that.

How to Reflect

Despite what you might believe, writing is not the most challenging part of the college essay. The tough part comes at the beginning: asking students what matters to them and why. We suggest helping them explore how they exhibit their most significant traits or characteristics. That’s the first step toward reflection.

We know that most high school students spend a lot of time thinking and talking about friends, moving out of the house, figuring out life, choosing a career and deciding which college to attend.

But, if you can help them slow down, make the case for taking time to reflect on their life experiences before the next admission cycle starts in late spring, your students  will be better prepared for the last phase of this journey to college.

The good news: You are more than ready for this challenge.

When we help our students reflect and focus up front, the rest of the process moves much more smoothly. Too many students start in the wrong place. They come to us full of ideas about topics, with little consideration of the essay’s purpose.

Students look for activities that might lead to stories, and they waste a lot of time talking about their experiences and their accomplishments. When they do this, they do not answer the prompt, which, no matter how it’s worded, is really asking students to show some insight into those experiences or accomplishments. That’s reflection.

No matter what you do, please make sure your students start at the beginning of the process – a conversation with you – or a parent, friend, favorite teacher.

You’ll be pleased to see that starting at the beginning of the process will save time, reduce stress and improve your own essay process.

Want to learn more? Get FREE resources from Wow!

Join Wow CEO Susan Knoppow for a FREE 30-minute phone call, just for counselors and consultants. She will answer your questions and share tips to help you support your students and their families through the college essay-writing process. We get together one Wednesday a month, 1-1:30 p.m. Eastern. Choose the session you prefer, then join us live or listen to the recording.


Kim Lifton, named one of 10 LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Education, 2018 , is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication company staffed by experts who understand the writing process inside and out. Since 2009, Wow has been leading the industry with our unique approach to communicating any message effectively. Click the Wow Method to find out how we help students write college application essays, grad school personal statements and resumes that get results. We also help business and nonprofit leaders create better blogs, manage social media, develop websites and create other communication materials.  If it involves words, Wow can help.