Tips from Edgar! The College Essay Process

IMG_2166 (1)Hi everyone, my name is Edgar Gonzalez Jr and I’m a freshman at Harvard College planning on concentrating in Government with a secondary in Economics. I grew up in the Little Village neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, a few blocks from Cook County Jail. At Harvard, I am a tutor for HSA as well as PBHA’s RITE program, and I write for the Harvard Political Review.

I remember procrastinating on my essays for the Common App and supplements. I was never fond of writing. When given a prompt, I got writer’s block before even writing. I had trouble starting, and the deadlines were approaching. So I became a hermit. I took the bus to the Harold Washington Library downtown. I went to the social sciences section – the quietest of the library. I sat near a window. It was dark and quiet. I did not touch my phone; I did not touch a book – I just sat there.

I felt pretty weird doing it, but this helped me a lot. Being alone with nothing to do made me very pensive. I thought about my family, friends, the good and bad of high school, my fears and my joys.

These thoughts flooded my head, and I wrote them down. There had to be some topic in there that I could focus on for my essays, and indeed I found something to write about.

Writing the essay also took a while. I had trouble with my first sentence, so I started with my body paragraphs instead of my introduction. I supported my incomplete thesis with personal experiences and life lessons. My transitions were nonexistent, and my essay seemed too mechanical. So I listened to music. Songs generally convey a story and a message, and I wanted to do the same with my essay. I tried to be poetic, and I am confident it worked with my other essays as well.

To avoid starting late, and to ensure that you keep writing when you do start, simply go somewhere to think quietly. After you find something to write about and start writing, listen to music to keep the words flowing. If you are not emotive in the thinking process, you would not be when writing the essay. Being emotive makes your essay more personal, and admissions officers want to hear your story. Invite them to read your story.

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