Welcome to Boot Camp: How to Write a Winning College Essay

Boot camp pic

Someone you meet in college would tell you that there's a boot camp for students who want to improve their essay writing skills. It lasts a few days, and it won't cost more than $20,000. It seems like a tempting offer, as this would ensure that you won't resort to procrastination. You can save that money for more important matters, though. There is a better, if not cheaper, way to be a better college essay writer.

Incoming freshmen who have an eclectic taste in books (or interests) would have an advantage over other freshmen, and the same thing goes to the ones who are enthusiastic about their chosen field of study. It is the details that would make a difference, though. For instance, many students would not hesitate to describe their achievements, such that they would embellish one or two. If you want to stand out, then you must include your failures as well. It should grab your professor's attention. (If you read "The Tyrant's Tomb", then you must recall how praetor Frank Zhang keeps his audience in awe during his short oration. He would remind them about that interesting time when - and how - he saved New Rome in his underwear and cape. If you are a SpongeBob fan, you could laugh out loud.) In other words, you do not have to try too hard to be better than the rest. This is a start, as the rest would be an eye opener.

5 Ways to Write an Essay that Screams "Read Me!"

Turn off your inner critic. The only way to finish the draft of your essay is to write it without any interruption. There must be a free flow of thoughts (while typing it), unmindful if it supports your essay prompt or not. This is not the time to question it, as your immediate goal is to meet the word count. (And writing three thousand words can take a few hours or more.) Recall everything you know, and then do additional research (on the Internet). You can check out your facts later.

Think about your content first. Do not think about your opening first (if you want to put it in another way). It could take some time, which would be a huge waste later on. Furthermore, you have an idea of what to write about. (Your professor provides you with a short list of essay topics.) You must have thought about your essay prompt after reading the list. Write anything without thinking about composing a paragraph. You can go to it directly, which might save you time. You could be thinking of another method, which you must not doubt. It is all about exploring your options until you find out the one that would help you write with zest and passion.

Look at other written works for inspiration. It does not mean that you must go through Michel de Montaigne's essays (or Ralph Waldo Emerson's). There is also no need to read your favorite quotes from "Walden" (and imagine that you’re conversing with Henry David Thoreau in his lonely cabin in Walden Pond). You can read any blog post that you find on the Internet, even the engrossing features by National Geographic. There will be a statement that would excite you, and then prompt you to work on your assignment right away. It is far from an essay examination, where you must write against the clock.

Practice makes you better. Your first assignment would take you longer to finish, which is OK. The next one is a new opportunity, which means it would take you a shorter time (than the first). Consistency in paper writing is not the same as keeping your room tidy and arranged most of the time. You must always think of new ideas, as well as digging deep (to recall your past experiences). It would be a huge challenge to go through the motions (and do it), but you could experience it sooner than you think. Older students would quip that they have struggled during the weeks leading to Christmas and the weeks following Easter. You would do the same thing, but there is a likely chance that you could do better.

No topic is off limits. You could insert a few sentences on a volcano in the Chihuahuan Desert, which the U.S. Volcanoes and Current Activity Alerts have not detected yet. It would remind you of Paricutin (in Mexico), and how you would describe the peak at night time excite you. Banish that thought, though. (Jennifer Cervantes beat you on that one.) You can think about Crater Lake, if not what would happen if the Northwest Passage is not discovered yet. It must be related to the topic that you are writing about. It would be better to ask your professor about it. (You may get an idea or two during that short chat.)

How to Weave It Together

It is time that you read your draft and see if it is punchy or not. You also must examine your perspective, as you want to ensure that it is your teenage self. You may be far from the zippy prose that you are hoping for, but do not worry. You will have your chance on your next assignment.

Thank you.

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