Should Your Students Write Their College Essay Now?

Before they start, they should ask themselves a few questions to determine if they are ready

This time of year, we focus on ways to prepare for the college essay, which students generally begin writing at the end of junior year – presumably in June.

But lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions from counselors, independent educational consultants and parents about the college essay.

Should students start writing their essays now, while they are home?

The answer to this question doesn’t have a simple answer.

We understand these are unsettling, super stressful times. You are working remotely while news about college admissions for the Class of 2020 has been changing by the minute since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

So, what are your students supposed to do with all this additional free time? Likely, they’ve got schoolwork. Much of everything else has been canceled. Sports. Dances. Clubs. Jobs. They can’t sit inside Starbucks with their friends or go shopping at the mall (neither can you!) They can chat on Instagram or Snap Chat and binge watch their favorite shows if they are fortunate enough to have Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu. But to be honest, we know – and you know – there’s  not much going on.

Before making a decision about whether or not your students should actually start writing their college essay, they need to ask themselves:

  • Does writing my Common App essay sound like something I want to do now?
  • Why am I going to write a college essay?
  • Why should I write it now?
  • Is it urgent that I write any college essay now?

Right now, more than ever, they should not forget the fundamentals: Plan. Process. Schedule.

Unless your students can reliably start the Common App essay, and finish it soon, it won’t work. They need to make sure they have a plan to finish what they start.

Help them make sure they have a process to follow so they know exactly what they’re doing and WHY they are doing it.

And make sure they understand the importance of sticking to a schedule. Everything is up in the air right now. They might need help staying focused.

Unless the essay is something your students can focus on – and I mean really focus on – it won’t work.

Were they going to wing it? Then they should slow down. It’s hard to focus.  It’s hard to stick to a routine.

To succeed on a college essay, students need a plan. They need a schedule. And they need a process to get it done without losing momentum?

So back to that original question: “Should students start working on college essays now?”

Share with you students in an email the right questions, and you’ll help them come up with the right answer.

It’s a good time to learn more. I hope you’ll ask your students to join me on April 7 for a free, 1-hour class, to help you prepare for your college essay. It’s online, on Zoom.

Get Started on Your College Essay – Free

Find out what you need to know to stand out in your college essay from Wow Writing Workshop, the leading national experts on the college essay. It can be hard to write about yourself, especially when the stakes are so high. We’ll help you prepare now, so you can write your essay when you are ready. We’ll answer your questions, too. Sign up here.

Stay healthy. We’re sending warm and calming thoughts to all of you.

Kim Lifton is President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication company specializing in college admission and grad school application essay writing and professional training. She leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Wow’s team teaches students how to write application essays, and provides expert training on their unique approach to professionals who want to improve their essay coaching practices. Kim blogs regularly about the college essay’s role in the admission process for multiple industry publications and websites. In 2019, she was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in Education.

Before co-founding Wow, Kim worked as a reporter and communication consultant. Highlights include: Co-producing a PBS documentary about teens and depression, No Ordinary Joe: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness; writing “First Class,” a weekly lifestyle column about the area’s most successful businessmen and women for the Detroit Free Press; creating “A Small Business Adventure,” a 12-part monthly series about the perils and pitfalls of running a small business for the Detroiter Magazine; supervising a public relations campaign and accompanying print materials that attracted local and national print, radio, and TV media coverage for the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual convention in celebrating its 100th anniversary.