Starting an essay is always the hardest part. The blessing and the curse of an admissions essay is that the topic is incredibly broad. You have to discuss your past, present, and future all in less than 650 words. Fortunately, by approaching the topic in a structured manner you can quickly determine what gets to take up precious essay real estate.
Step 1: Brainstorm your topic
– Write out your essay ideas on post it notes and then group the post it notes based on the theme of the story
– Think about which themes apply to the essay the most and then toss the rest
– Rank the stories within each theme from top to bottom
– Grab some friend, tell them the essay question and the top story to each theme and see which stories they think highlight you the best
– You have your topic/top topics!
Step 2: Figure out the flow
Sometimes, the story you thought would work so well, doesn’t work when you start detailing it. Good stories have a clear beginning, middle, and end with sign posts throughout to tell the reader where he/she is headed. To check if your story flows, write out the structure of the essay using this form.
Topic sentence 1:
Bullet points for the paragraph
Topic sentence 2:
Bullet points for the paragraph:
Step 3: Obtain peer review
Grab a different set of friends and ask them to look through the structure. The benefit of having the structure is that it’s difficult to hide a bad story without being able to use flowery language, Ask the following questions:
– Does it address the essay question?
– Does the story make sense?
– Can you see how paragraph 1 is connected to paragraph 2 and so on?
– Which sections of the story do you want to know more about?
– What is the impression you’re left with after reading this structure?
At this point, you should have a really good idea of whether or not the story you picked is suitable. If the answer is no, that’s ok. Start at step 1 again. The whole process should be a relatively quick and easy one and will save you the pain of starting fresh when you’re chest deep in to the essay.
College, Graduate School, and Career Coaching.