New brainstorming session, Aug. 3

The College Essay Confidant√© will be offering a new workshop on “Brainstorming your essay” on Wednesday, Aug. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m.

This workshop is for rising seniors only.

Cost is $150 for 3 hours, plus professional review of your first full draft.

Limited to 6 students.

Students will leave with an essay topic and a written paragraph.

Register here.

Contact Joyce Pellino Crane at for more information.

Easing into the story.

I stumbled across this blog today.

The writer, Debbie Nel, lists essay topics for college students. Not all are relevant to the composition of the college application essay, but there are some interesting ideas.

If you’re a rising senior and are struggling with what to write for your essay, sit down with pen and paper and list the things you did today. Think of conversations you had. What you saw. What you ate. What you smelled. What did you think about? Where did you go? What did you plan? Did you brush your teeth? Did you take a shower, comb out your hair, make your bed? Did you run in the woods, jump off a bridge into the river, bake bread, read a book, play your guitar, stare at your walls, build a bookcase?

If you break down your life into tiny pieces, and think hard about the things you do, ideas will come to you. Your mind is like a network laced with tiny triggers. When you walk by a flowering bush and smell the scent it may remind you of your grandmother’s garden. When the anniversary of the day you met your best friend rolls around, you may find yourself daydreaming of that period of your life. When you stop panicking and relax into yourself, memories will turn into stories that will turn into essays that will turn into a powerful personal statement.

Believe in the process

I came across this article in the “Atlantic,” entitled “On Writing a Great Essay, Think and Care Deeply,” and wanted to share it with you. When writing an essay, believe in yourself and in your abilities to reach a higher level of thinking.

So often when I sit down to write a commentary for my newspaper, I feel the anxiety of uncertainty. What should I write? What do I want to say? Will it make logical sense? Can I revise it quickly enough to meet my deadline? Will I embarrass myself by writing something that’s not good enough?

Your college application essay will be good enough. Trust in that. But to get there, give yourself the time to think deeply and to write with no distractions. You may not know where you’re going with it, but if you write something, it will spur a thought process that will lead you somewhere.

You have to have faith.

Last week I assigned myself a commentary which was to run in the June 30 edition of my newspaper. But the night before deadline, I still had no idea what to say. Then I looked at my computer screen and saw a photo of myself with my late grandmother, a proud naturalized U.S. citizen. By the time I got to the end of the piece, I realized I wanted to acknowledge how she had paved the way for me to have a life in America. I named the piece, “My American life is courtesy of an immigrant,” and called attention to the approaching July 4th holiday. Here is the essay as it appeared in the paper.

You will have the same type of epiphany if you give yourself the opportunity to think deeply and write.