Ask Sam: College Essays

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Hey GlamourGals, I’m Sam and I’m back again with another question from a marvelous volunteer! Our question comes from Sarah in Texas:

“Hello Sam. I want to write about my GG experience for my college applications, but I have no idea where to start. What should I do?”

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College application can be a stressful time for any high school senior, and can feel like a dark cloud looming over the head of any junior. So much to do and so much to write! Between filling in your applications and asking for recommendation letters… By the way, if you would like to receive a recommendation letter from GG National, follow these steps!

But speaking of writing, no one wants to think about…

The dreaded college essay!

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But thankfully, I’ve dealt with this all before!

There are important things you should keep in mind when writing a college essay. Think of it as an audition: You’re putting your best foot forward and giving the school a preview of who you are, what you can do, and why their institution needs a person like you!

So my first tip is one you’ve all heard before but it doesn’t make it any less important: Relax.

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You’re an amazing person with so much to write about! When you’re stressed out, simple tasks can become difficult and difficult tasks become near impossible to complete. Take a moment to breathe: Stop and smell the roses (or rose scented perfume if you don’t have any roses handy)!

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Keep calm and keep track of your deadlines. Take the time to work out a schedule to ensure you have enough time to finish all your applications. Try to prevent yourself from having to do an application last minute because that only leads to more stress.

If there’s a particular school you want to apply to, completing their requirements should be on top of your list. Check out what their essay questions are and keep them in your brain because it’s time to start brainstorming.

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Well, not that literal.

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Okay, that’s better. Most college essay questions ask about personal experiences, recent growth as a person, recent achievements, and so on. Some may give you free reign to think of a topic all your own. As a GlamourGal, there’s so much to choose to write about!

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This would be a good time to review any journals you’ve written to refresh your memory and find any that encompass the spirit of the essay question.

The memory could be a makeover with your favorite senior. Maybe a time where you helped a fellow volunteer! Did you participate in a fundraiser for your chapter? Did you step up as a chapter leader and gain new confidence in yourself? And these are just a few examples.

At the brainstorming phase, no idea is a bad idea: It helps reassure you that you have limitless possibilities.

But now that we have our ideas, we need to pick one to focus on. Quality over quantity is always important in a college essay. While you have many things you might want to discuss, many college essays have a word limit, so you want to be able to share the highlights and answer the question of the essay with strength and sharp focus.

So, let’s say you want to talk about your growing confidence in talking to seniors due to your GlamourGals makeovers!

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In your essay, you can talk about your first makeover and your progress. You were once nervous and shy, but now you’re confident and ready to take on any challenges you may face. So next, let’s make an outline:

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Your introduction, supporting details, and conclusion should fit together like a puzzle and flow like a river. Your outline will be the foundation for your essay to be and help keep you steady if you lose your place. A great outline also helps you avoid repetition.  

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Repeating yourself over and over and over and over and over and over… will make your essay dull and not pleasant for anyone who has to read it. That’s why you should always remember:

Quality over quantity!

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And when talking about quality, don’t be afraid to be personal and speak from your heart: Remember, this is your audition. You’re telling your story and GlamourGals has been a great help into molding you into the person you want to be. But who is that person?

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Now that you have all these tools, I wish you luck with all those college applications! But you can’t forget this next part, a part no one likes, but is always important:

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Proofread! ...See, that drawing is what happens when you forget to proofread.

With enough time before the deadline, you can print out your essays and ask others to help review it. But beware of who you ask…

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Always look for people you know who will provide you with constructive criticism, not just praise. You want them to be objective in their reviews, just like the college recruiter reading your essay. I suggest asking a teacher or an advisor. You can also ask us at GG National by emailing with the subject “College Essay Review”.

Finally, go a day or two without seeing the essay. When you check on it again, you can review it with a fresh set of eyes and catch any mistakes or things you might want to retract.

With that done, there’s only one thing left to do: Send your essay with your completed application!

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And once that’s all said and done…

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Take a nap. You definitely deserve one.

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All GlamourGals can earn a service hour by answering this journal prompt:

What have you learned from GlamourGals that might be helpful to note when applying to colleges?  

I look forward to your answers!

You can email if you have any questions you would like me to answer. I'm here to help!

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GG National