If it seems as though college applicants are having more and more essays to write as part of the college process, you would be right. It’s not uncommon for students to have four, six, or maybe even ten additional essays to write. The all-time high for a student I have personally worked with was 18! While some are shorter and some are longer, it’s still 18 different pieces of writing, and, sometimes the shorter essays are actually more difficult to write.
With that being said, in this blog we give some practical advice about how to manage all the possible essays you will have to write, and explain why getting an early start is essential.
How and when can I find out how many essays I will have to write?
Well, if you are a senior, we can walk you through it, and will below. But, if you are an underclassman (junior, sophomore, etc), this isn’t as simple, and unfortunately you can’t know for sure until August of the summer before your senior year. That is the official “launch” date for the next cycle of college applications, so you have to wait until then because things can change from year to year. In early August, we advise you to search through your applications and find out exactly how many you will have to write.
Where are the essays in the Common Application?
Seniors, you have to be careful and diligent when finding out how many extra essays you will have to write. For starters, most colleges will require one main essay. Additionally, some colleges have Writing Supplements right on the school-specific tab of the Common App. They are usually easy to spot. However, some colleges “hide” extra essays within the college-specific questions, so it’s important to check every tab. The super-tricky one is when an essay doesn’t show up at first, but after answering a question, such as “what major do you want to study?” an essay appears, such as “Why did you choose this major?” So, look thoroughly through all parts of the Common App to find all of the essays.
What about other Applications?
For other applications, finding essays can be tricky as well. Sometimes, applicants will need to answer one page of questions before they can go on to the next page, for example, with the essay question(s) being at the very end of the application. Sometimes, you can find out essay prompts on the undergraduate admission webpage for the specific college. For the Coalition Application, students need to complete their Profile before being able to see college-specific questions and essays.
How can I keep track?
Your Campus Bound Counselor can help you locate, keep track of, and manage all of your essays. I find that a chart with college deadlines and extra essays is helpful. It can be very useful to create a Google Doc for each essay, with the question and word limit at the top of the page.
When can I start?
As I mentioned before, it’s impossible to know for certain how many essays you will have to write until the applications are available for your application cycle. That usually happens in early August. You can, however, get an early start on your main college essay over the summer, and then start compiling your list of other essays later in the summer.
Locating, keeping track of, and getting an early start on college essays is important for many reasons, and Campus Bound is happy to help with all of this and more.