When/How To Start Prepping for Writing College Essays

Hi! My questions is basically the discussion title. I’ve heard people say to start prepping for writing college essays early, but I don’t know how to/when to start. How do I prep for college essays?
(P.S. I will be a high school sophomore in the fall)

I think it depends on a few things. if you are applying ED/EA, definitely now/soon. Also, if you are going to be crazy busy in the fall, you should get it out of your way this summer to make applying stress-free. I already have two respectable drafts and my mom is still always yelling to me about how everyone else is already done and ahead of me haha. But ya, also if you’re thinking of applying to very competitive schools, I would start early to make it really good :smiley:

You’re a rising sophomore, right? FAR too early for all these concerns. You need to get through more years of hs, commit to the right ECs, grow more, and refine your wants.

My kids wrote theirs in early December, for RD, and late October, for an 11/15 ED deadline. No need to be finalizing anything now. You aren’t even close.

But what you should do is make sure you know what your targets look for. In the end, that’s far more bang for your buck, along with true hs performance, than all this worry and hand wringing about the What Ifs. In fact, top colleges aren’t fond of hand wringers who get so consumed by college targets so early. Read up.

My kids wrote their main essays in September of senior in time for the EA deadlines. My younger son wrote his last optional essay for Tufts in January of his senior year days before the deadline. We started talking about possible topics the summer before senior year.

What you should be doing now is having the experiences that will give you something to write about.

My D wrote her first draft in AP language and comp class spring of junior year.

Honestly, being a rising senior now, no way could I have a good topic by the time I entered sophomore year and probably not junior year. Before that, you have to know what your passions are (aka your peaks) and who you are… you get to tell the adcoms one thing about you during the app essentially. If I were you, go to notes on your phone, right down everything before highschool that was important in your life. If this becomes very important later down the road, it may be an essay, but the essay really should reflect who you are when you enter college, so its better to have a story that is in highschool. As you narrow down your ec’s/ add ec’s and gain new experiences, put those down on the notes. (I tried freshman and kinda sophomore year like speech and debate, Tedx, Model UN, DECA, Science Olympiad, Bio club, Investment club… what are adcoms gonna make of that if I stuck with those?). I think it’ll be much easier to get a topic for the essay once you streamline ec’s into your passions/ peaks. I believe that you should ultimately start drafting essays middle of junior year. If you want just for fun to do it summer before junior year then go for it, but its not the end of the world if you start August before apps are due (that’s when most colleges release their supplements…)

You don’t need to prepare now–it is too early. That being said, there are things you can do now that will help you write the essay when the time comes.

  1. You can keep a journal in which you regularly write about yourself and what is going on in your life in a deep and introspective manner. This will make you better at writing about yourself and will make you a more introspective person. Doing this is probably also valuable in its own right.

  2. Read plenty of fiction, especially introspective fiction, personal essays, and memoirs (quality ones–not ones about celebrities). This should give you an idea of what good introspective writing looks like.

  3. Do plenty of interesting things with your time. This way you will be a more interesting person and will have more to talk about.

Enjoy the summer or whatever it remains for you. Don’t “worry about college” this much, you will get burned out. Read good books, watch nice movies, write Reviews about them. Enrich your life and your experience, be physically strong, sleep well and eat healthy. Get ready for a productive sophomore year. Relax.

No need to write essays now. But I am totally with @TheSATTeacher – keep a journal. Even it it’s just phrases or ideas about what excites you, angers you, bores you – it’ll give you ideas and help you see how you are becoming who you are. It’s a great way to process your own growth as well as a record/prompt when you need it.

I agree a journal is a great idea. I also wish we’d kept a running list of awards. Two years later we couldn’t remember which Science Olympiad awards either kid had gotten when.