Save the Speech. Tell the Tale.

Are you stressed out about writing your college essay? You don’t need to be nervous – think of your essay as a conversation.

You love to share your opinions, right?

I know you do because you share them everywhere—whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, I know you love to talk about yourselves.

Here’s how to translate this love into a great college essay:

* Stop guessing. When a college asks, “Name a problem you’d like to solve,” there’s no one right answer for everybody. . . Cure cancer? Great. The need for your mother to work three jobs? Absolutely. The squeak in your garage door? That can work too—as long as it means something to you, and you can show that meaning in your essay. 

This isn’t Algebra -- you get to decide what the answer is, and why it makes sense.

* Tell a story. Remember the time you told your best friend about the first concert you went to or the best pizza you ever ate? You were on fire at the end of the story, genuinely excited at the chance to share part of your life with them. That’s how you should feel once you’re done writing a college essay. 

This isn’t a speech you give to thousands of people -- it’s a story that means something to you, and you’re telling it to someone who really wants to hear it. 

* Remember, your goal is to write an essay that sounds so much like a conversation, they’ll be surprised you aren’t in the room with them when they’re finished reading it.

About the Author

Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D.

Born and raised in Detroit, Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D., has been a college counselor since 1984, serving students in rural, urban, and suburban high schools, as well as community college....