Everything You Need to Know about College Application Essay

I’ve guided thousands of students and parents over the years who believe the college application process is just another form amidst the dizzying pile of paperwork (or digital fields) that must be filled out, submitted, and quantified.

Without a doubt, you’ve amassed a lot of data over your high school years: grades, test scores, and activity lists. But the application essay? That’s your time to shine, to truly be you. To—get ready for this—have fun.

In this guide, we’ll be exploring what the college application process is all about.

Why do you have to write it? What kind of writing is it? When and how should you start? What can you learn about writing—and yourself—through this milestone process?

Meanwhile, the best way to prepare as a college-bound student—or a teacher of one—is to get a taste for excellent short-form autobiographical writing (often called “flash” nonfiction or “shorts”). Still months or years away from your senior year? You can start this part of the application process at any time. It’s never too early to get inspired by good prose!