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College application season is the most stressful time of year for high school Seniors (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Senior Advice: The do’s and dont’s of college essay writing

By Gisselle Penuela Solis

Staff Writer

It’s early November, the days start to get colder and you find yourself listening to more sad songs from your saved music. For procrastinating Summit seniors, this marks the beginning of the end: UC Application month. For me, the last month was probably the most stressed I have ever been. I think most seniors could say the same as the University of California (UC) application was due Nov. 30. Now, to be clear I am no expert but I have some pretty good PIQ writing tips that I wish I would’ve heard earlier.

There are multiple forms of college applications, I completed the UC and CSU Applications. The UC Application was by far the hardest, I ended up hitting submit at 11:42p.m., cutting it very close to the 11:59p.m. deadline. (A big don’t)

The UC Application has a section called the “Personal Insight Questions.” This section is arguably the most important part of your application, making it the most excruciating part. You are prompted with eight questions, you get to select and answer four in 350 words or less each.

I started planning a month in advance for the PIQ section, creating a Google Doc with all the questions to evaluate the best prompts for me. Slowly but surely, I started writing. Under the questions, I would brainstorm what I wanted to talk about in each PIQ, creating an outline for each one.  One of the best tips I got from a friend was to word vomit, meaning to write as much as you possibly can, then edit later and see if any of it is actually good. Using this method I was able to get two essays out of the four ready for the final edits.

This leads me to another point, ask for help! This year I have been extremely shy, so asking for help was extremely difficult. However, I can tell you that having someone to proof read and overall help you with the essays makes the process 100 times better. Luckily, I reached out the right classmates who were able to help me brainstorm and constantly reminded me to write. Honestly, I really owe it all to them! Aside from classmates, you can ask your teachers. Shout out to Mr. Smith who was a huge help in editing and showing me different ways to say what I wanted to say. No one can do it alone.

To give you a little more insight, I will go through one of my answers. one of the prompts I answered was Question 6: “Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.”

During my Freshman year, I took the Ethnic Studies expedition. This class was impactful to me and the culturally significant content of the course inspired me, thus, it was the perfect topic to write about for Question 6. I wrote about how the content of the Ethnic Studies class led me to discover the subject I want to major in. (Sociology)

Make sure to get straight to the point, this was one of my mistakes when I started writing. Admissions officers read countless essays, they do not want to read a drawn out sob story with no impact. You should write about your struggles but make sure to have the overarching impact or resolution use an equal if not greater amount of words.

When I started the process I felt like I didn’t have enough to talk about, stressing over the fact that I didn’t achieve anything crazy in high school. After a while, I realized that I didn’t need a national award or  a non-profit start up on my application. Throughout my four years at Summit I participated in simple things like Student Ambassadors, Student Senate, Journalism and volunteered outside of school. I was able to talk about all of these in my essays. Everyone has something to write about, the hard part is just putting it on the page.

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