I don’t think I’ve lived an interesting life, and I don’t think I have anything good to write. Tips?
You can’t… Most applicants don’t have an “angle” or “spike”. Use the application to present what you have done in the most positive manner possible.
Have you read the tips at the top of the essay forum?
The essay is the place you can tell something positive/interesting about yourself that can’t be found elsewhere on the application.
Have you googled “college essay tips”?
Work with your strengths. Encouraging well roundedness and exploration is a positive.
We all know that an angle/spike will help tremendously when getting into a college. But how can you make one if you don’t have a lot of experiences to back it up? I come from a school that encourages more exploration and well-roundedness.
My daughter wrote about learning to make plush toys from Youtube. Her biggest risk was not using a thimble.
Your life is no less interesting than any of the other kids writing those essays. You’re all 17 year old kids; no one expects you to have conquered Everest or cured cancer (in spite of what you may read on this site.) My own kid had the best luck with tiny little snapshots into their lives. My son wrote about a phone call that had him rethinking his attitude towards school, my daughter wrote about a comment a teacher made that had her realizing she’s a lot like each member of our family.
One of my kids wrote about how ballet helped her take constructive criticism and improve herself. She made it a bit funny by talking about putting herself out there wearing practically nothing while someone was telling her she wasn’t pointing her toes properly.
Another daughter wrote about her love of reading. She talked about taking bath while reading and dropping books in the tub.
My kids also didn’t have any earth shattering experience, so they wrote about things that mattered to them. It was a way for the AOs to get to know them personally.
It’s the writing that counts; not the subject which is YOU. What you are saying is that YOU have nothing to say about yourself that is interesting at all.
If you truly feel that way, make sure you have some big schools on your list that have no essay or put little weight on it. There are plenty of them.
Google “College Essay guy” and watch a few of his short videos and try some of the (free) exercises on his site - you’ll be off to the races in no time. It is a 100% certainty that you have something to write about. My kid wrote about trying to keep bees and failing.
I like the “Hack the College Essay site” - thought it was fun to read, and free, and might be helpful.
Good advice so far, adding to google ‘essays that worked’ at Tufts, Hamilton and Johns Hopkins for wide ranging essay examples that impressed AOs.
You do NOT need an angle or a spike. I work with kids professionally on their college essays. The vast majority think they have nothing interesting to say. Everyone can find something to say about themselves.
Here are some topics some of my students have written about:
Going to the grocery store near a relative’s house to get a food item only available locally.
Bringing her childhood nightlight to college.
Joy at seeing the gates of summer camp each year.
Working in the kitchen at summer camp each year.
Planning the annual family vacation to the beach.
Creating an “animal” in the school robotics class.
Being a ball boy at the tennis court.
There are so many others. The ONE thing each of these students had in common is that they wrote about something that means a lot to them. That’s all that matters. My students have always had multiple colleges to choose from, but it’s because they wrote about what mattered to them. What matters to you? Write about that.
It’s hard to write about yourself. One idea to help you get started is to make a list of things you’ve done in your life that you are proud of, and a second list of things you’d like to accomplish over, say, the next ten years. Perhaps a theme will emerge, or something will make you smile more than others that you can turn into an essay. I’m not talking necessarily about commonly-held “accomplishments” like winning a prize or receiving public accolades. On my list of accomplishments, for example, might be learning to ski, baking brownies, and learning how to play a particular piece on the piano. But I’d also have writing a novel, too, and raising two children without either losing any fingers or toes. To bootstrap onto Lindagaf, her (I think Lindagaf is a her, but my apologies if I’m mistaken) examples would fit into such a list. Then if possible I’d try to find a connection between an item on each list: What is it about one of your accomplishments that has pointed you toward one of your goals?
Just start writing. That’s the hardest part. Brainstorm and write anything that comes to mind. Once you start, you’ll find it’s amazing how it flows out of you. Don’t worry about structure or grammar or anything at this point. Just ideas. Then see what sticks out and can be developed.
The most important thing is to show you are a thoughtful, interested, and self-aware person. The essay is there so you can show-off yourself, not your accomplishments (you are not your accomplishments). I think many essays actually go awry by trying too much to do the latter and in the process the writer often shows herself to be distinctly unthoughtful and un-self-aware. As such the essay does not have to be about anything major. The best essays are often about the most mundane things.
You don’t have to be interesting. One of the exemplars of a successful essay was about Costco.
You could actually write the essay on how to write an essay when you don’t have anything to right about. Talk about how your schools theory of being well rounded and exploring deeper made you the person you are today. Why was your school so different. Do you agree with your schools theory of teaching. If not why?
If anything it will get you going.
Make it unique, personal and interesting. This topic would be interesting since it’s different…
Seinfield was a TV show about “nothing.” It had a fabulous run and became a cultural touchstone. Your college essay topic will certainly be about “something,” but take a queue from the TV show and look at something mundane in your life from a quirky angle. Honest, heartfelt writing with a touch of self-deprecating humor can be a winning formula.