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Stay sane (maybe!) while writing college application essays & personal statements - for Huffington Post.
David Letterman's top ten lists will never lose their appeal. It's as though all the wisdom on any subject can be contained in these simple, breezy lines -- and who knows, maybe they can be. These are general guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Not every applicant will be able to do these in this order and some may be more relevant than others.
1. No magic bullet. There's no getting around it. The essays are a slog, and if you're applying to schools with many supplements or several schools not on the Common Application, it's a lot of work. But -- the good news! -- doing the work is a way to focus your experience, your perceptions, your goals, and your sense of yourself as a soon-to-be college student, especially during interviews. Finding your voice and your story will help you make that transition.
2. Ask for help -- from people and online. Writers (and doctors and engineers and parents) ask for help all the time. Just because writing is a solitary activity doesn't mean you shouldn't seek advice and reactions from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends, parents, or the abundant information online. Ask for help brainstorming. Read online posts about how to tackle various questions. Check out college app essays that are posted, but don't be discouraged by them. You're looking at final drafts, not early drafts. Ask for help from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends who are writers or educators -- and/or your parents. And be prepared to rewrite. And rewrite.
3. There are no right answers. Students often say: What does the school want me to write? The school wants to know what you think and what your experience is. The essay is a kind of interview. Reveal yourself. Make sure you essay tells us what it is that you want the colleges to know about you: Your passions, your talents, your ambitions, the qualities that make you who you are. READ 7 MORE TIPS
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