Contact us at 805.618.2340

The Best Time to Start the College Essay


If there's one thing I've noticed over my years as a private college admissions counselor, it is that the longer a student waits to begin focusing on the college application process, the more stressful college application season becomes. With the enormous pressure students (and their families) are under during the fall of senior year, it is critical to start laying the groundwork as early as possible.

As in, well, now.

The demands of junior year are fading, and summer vacation is upon us. Most students are exhausted, and their natural inclination at this point is to relax. I get that, and I fully support it. Students have worked hard, and they deserve a break.

That said, the break shouldn't last too long. Recharging our batteries is one thing, but there's nothing relaxing about ignoring crucial, time-intensive tasks that loom in the not-too-distant future. 

One those tasks is the college essay. A late start on the college essay is one of the greatest stressors I see among seniors during application season. Conversely, there is nothing that makes for an easier, more enjoyable application season than starting the school year with a finished essay.

The worst part about all the stress surrounding the college essay is that it is completely unnecessary. When approached methodically, the process of brainstorming, writing, and refining the college essay can actually be a positive, uplifting experience. The uniquely personal nature of this essay represents an opportunity for personal growth and reflection that many students have never encountered in the context of their high school writing. What some students view as a grueling task often turns out to be a surprisingly rewarding experience.

The college essay is also a powerful tool to enable admissions officers to connect with students an informal, personal level. Properly executed, the essay will help admissions officers catch a glimpse of the person behind the GPA, the course choices, and the extracurriculars. Admissions officers are just people, after all, so a great college essay can help "humanize" the applicant for them in ways that no other part of the application can.

With all that in mind, I urge all of my regular clients to start the essay as early in the summer as possible. We offer a great package of services that will help get the ball rolling.

College Essay Package
This package combines in-depth private meetings with extensive essay reviews, revisions, and suggestions. At this point in the summer, I have a lot of availability for this package, but that changes considerably as application season progresses, so if you want personalized, hands-on guidance, please book your package as soon as possible.

As many of my clients already know, I have a longstanding love for the college essay. I wrote The College Essay Trap to help fill some of the knowledge gaps regarding the college essay, and I've taught the essay since my early days as a faculty member at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. I try to impart as much of that enthusiasm and knowledge as possible to each of my students, and I am excited about the prospect of working with yet another handful of motivated college-bound essayists this summer!