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Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have several seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2014 to June 2015!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.

The Common App has been out for over two weeks. My summer is more than half way over. I still have yet to write a decent essay. Needless to say, I’m stressed out. However, I’m not stressed enough to actually do something productive. So far, I’ve been sitting at my computer with a blank document open on Word, staring at it in hopes that my essay will write itself. At this point, I understand what Spongebob felt when he was trying to write his essay for boating school. I don’t know what this says about me, as I have sunken to the point where I am comparing myself to Spongebob Squarepants (not that he isn’t amazing, but he did set his house on fire instead of writing his essay).

While I am desperate, I will not set my house on fire. At least I hope not. Though that would make a great essay.

Speaking of which, what makes a great essay? For me, as well as many others (I assume), the essay is the most nerve-wracking section of the common app. I mean, extracurriculars aren’t easy to come up with, and I still don’t know what FASFA stands for, but overall, essays are, blatantly put, the worst.

I realize the importance of the essay, how it can make or break your application, how it can be the tipping point between acceptance and bitter disappointment. Which makes it all the more stressful. In reality, what is a good essay? The answer is, there isn’t one. There is no set definition, at least, not according to Yahoo Answers (though I should have probably consulted a more reliable source).

The essay is supposed to show the real you, what makes you stand out, the essence of your being.  What does that even mean? I get it, really. This is a time of deep self-reflection, what makes you, you, and all that. However, I am having a bit of difficulty reflecting on my own experiences, what with the concept of college admissions looming over me ominously. How am I supposed to tackle an essay of such importance? Do I go for originality? Or do I just explain a really common scenario with my own writing style? What’s my happy place? The library? Literally everyone’s happy place is the library. Thus, this is my current dilemma. Do I show my “true self”, whatever that is, or do I aim for originality? I mean, there are so many problems to consider.

For one, I have one fatal flaw that many people applying to college share. I am ordinary. I haven’t done anything crazy, like scale Mount Everest or save orphans from a burning building (did you get my The Outsiders reference there?). And I know, I don’t have to do that to get into university, but it sure would have made my college essay writing easier. So that leaves me with a few other choices. Do I over exaggerate what I have done to make myself sound impressive, or do I take an incredibly ordinary event (like waking up early in the morning) and write with so much flair that it sounds like I’m writing about my passion to overcome all challenges? Either way, I always end up sounding pretentious. Which seems to happen whenever I try too hard.

Thus, this is my solution. And also my advice (that is, if you can consider this advice).

Don’t think. Just write. Be as outrageous as possible. If you write as much as humanly possible, you will eventually come up with a decent essay (I doubt you will ever get to a perfect essay, but there’s nothing wrong with trying). It’s like that saying about a thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters. They’ll come up with a great literary piece at some point. That’s me. I am a thousand monkeys.

Can you tell that I’m stressed out?

But that is besides the point. With summer half way over, I have finally finished an essay or two with my new found technique (not to say that these essays aren’t horrible, because so far they are). Hopefully, once the next few weeks roll by, I’ll finally write an essay that I can proudly copy and paste onto the common app (though knowing me, I won’t get any of it done until halfway through November).

After that, I just need to get reference letters and talk to my counselor, which is another issue altogether (I don’t think my counselor knows I exist or even cares, I mean, she suggested I take a Family Planning course instead of Marketing). In spite of all this work, I know that it will all pay off in the end, when I am finally accepted somewhere (hopefully), and I will look back on these times and wonder why I worried so much.

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  1. Narp on June 12, 2015

    Thank you so much for the advice Jenny. As I read your article I realized more and more the person you were describing was me as well. This realization was funny (albeit depressing) and made you sound so human. I’m sure if we all wrote essays like how passionate you write articles, then we’ll all be accepted.

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