Write an “Acceptional” College Essay                            by Patti Brugman

     By Patti Brugman

Writing is the single most important pursuit for high school students.  Just the other day, I got an e-mail from a mother who knows this.  She asked what she could do to help her son write better for English grades now and college applications later.  He is in the 8th grade.

     High school juniors can start the writing process now. The Common Application won’t be up until August, so start by writing whatever you think, without feeling any pressure. The passion of your concerns is what we love to read. The topics will come later.  Let’s develop your ability to communicate with these few tips:

·      Read.  Love the genius of the writers you are assigned to read in school.  Read books, magazines, and articles online.  Read about what you love and start learning new things. By reading, you build up your ideas, your opinions, and your knowledge. Let your curiosity carry you. It is your deep interest that will build up your writing!

·      Talk. Whenever you can, have deep discussions about controversial topics: movies you’ve seen, finances, or what’s happening in Congress.  Ignite the conversation.  If you can talk coherently and express meaningful opinions, you will write well.

·      Keep a journal. Find your topics.  While some students are ready to talk about anything from hieroglyphs to scholarships, other students have a more limited range of interests.  Know what you love to talk about.  Writing is talking, so write some zinger first lines.  Build from there.

     Of course, basic mechanics are an absolute requirement for good writing.  We have to have perfect spelling and basic grammar.  The rhythm and syntax of sparkling language often comes from reading poetry and listening to music.  Read your work aloud before turning in anything you write.  Hear the pace, feel the arguments and create illustrations to propel your work.  Listen for missing words or words that just aren’t right.  Good writing should sound great when read aloud and reading aloud is a great way to hear your own genius.

     The genius of your ideas is what we’re going for. Our students may start a bit scratchy, but through this process, they all end up writing the best thing they’ve ever written. This is their chance to tell the story that they care most about.  Every one of them is capable of writing like a prize winner—and a future college student!