Writing a Winning College Essay! - Part 2

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Today, I'd like to share (Part 2) - with links and resources to help your teen write a winning essay.  

In part 1, of Writing a Winning College Essay, we did some brainstorming and found the essay prompts for the Common Application.  When we got it out again, my daughter still wasn't sure which essay prompt to use......Then when we stopped by the beach.....

When we stopped by the beach....

Sometimes inspiration comes more from the breaks that we take....

By spending those few minutes out in nature, somewhere in those beautiful waves, my daughter found the answer to my her essay......and finally chose her essay prompt. 

Picking the Essay Topic

My teen decided to write about her youth conference, an event that had a lot of personal meaning for her, and something that she was passionate about.  

She chose essay prompt #4....
  •  4.  Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

When we arrived home, my teen sat down and began her first draft! She worked on it for a few days, then we let it sit some more.  And headed out to look at the fall leaves.....

Revisions and Editing

When she got it out again, she took a fresh look at it, and saw that it needed some revisions. 

Reviewing the structure of a good essay, such as from IEW, or Oak Meadow or from Time for Learning  helped alot. (We just looked at one of these) 

Looking at our favorite resource, and reviewing things like the 5 paragraph essay again, topic sentences, paragraph writing, etc, helped my teen to revise and restructure her essay, which is key.

Then I suggested some editing points..... 

It is important that this essay be written by the student, of course, but many essay help services recommend having another person read it over for editing purposes.  

 Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, and the Organization of the Essay are crucial.

Reading the essay over multiple times, for editing, was key.  And our cat helped, all the way......

Writing her first draft.

Advice from Experts

"Decide which topic has the most potential; it should be something that you feel strongly about so that it really comes alive when you write about it." ..........from  11 Tips for Writing the College Essay, by the American School Counselor Association

"Write about common topics, real experiences that you teen has had and how they were meaningful to them.  Avoid being too creative or controversial." ........from Nancy Burgoyne, of Fat Envelope Essays

"A good essay will generally deal with....... a single incident or a small part of your experience. Don't try to cram everything in. .Additionally, since you are limited on space, you should avoid listing your accomplishments. These things will appear on your transcript and in other parts of the application." ......from Homeschool World  - Your College Admissions Essay,  By Austin Webb

And if you are writing about hardships, I recommend focusing on the positives, not the difficulties, but speak to how they were overcome.  This shows the college your student's problem solving skills, and motivation, and resilience!

FYI - Articles on the College Essay

11 Tips for Writing the College Essay at Family Education.com

From IEW: Writing an Eye-Catching College Application Essay---Posted by Genevieve in College Prep  http://iew.com/help-support/blog/writing-eye-catching-college-application-essay

From HSLDA:  Writing the College Application Essay

"Many college applications include an essay.  Make use of the College Board’s tips for college essay writing. You’ll find help for choosing a topic, advice for drafting, sample essay questions, and three steps to get started. Your teen can even take a stab at critiquing two sample essays.
From the College Essay Guy - A Free Guide to Writing Your Personal Statement

From the Princeton Review - The College Essay

So that's how we went about tackling the college essay. And, boy, did it feel good to get it uploaded!  Choosing which essay prompt to use, one that inspired my daughter, was key for us.

Have you seen my book on college yet?

Get my best tips on college from a homeschool perspective!  Make your high school planning easier! 

Kindle is $7.17 on Amazon  or read for free on Prime. 
In print on Amazon  for $9.19 

"This book guides the reader step by step through the maze of requirements for college AND gives the gift of comparing requirements for various types of colleges. I am beyond grateful for this book, and highly suggest it to every homeschool family regardless of the stage one is at. Being able to see a long-term educational plan, laid out so effectively, is a gift. 
.......Theresa Harmon, homeschool mom, WA state

What's included in the book?  

Check out the review on The Curriculum Choice.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Betsy is mom to her 20 year old daughter whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote a new e-book on college..   She offers free homeschool help and messages at BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

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  1. This is a very practical, easy to follow post!! Thanks for sharing at Inspired By Me Mondays :) Hope you come back again!!!

    1. Thanks, +Rachel DeBruin, for your comment. And I enjoyed the posts on Inspired By Me Mondays, great place to share, too!


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