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How to write a college entrance essay

AndersonIt’s that time of the year again. While pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween costumes are resurrected, seniors are buckling down and writing their college entrance essays. Every senior has his or her eye on the prize as the future quickly starts to become reality.

As I sit reading a re-telling of my life experiences, considering what I have learned and what would make me appealing to colleges, I cannot help the overwhelming nostalgia. Memories flood in as I frantically try and squeeze them all into 650 words or less.

Which event has changed me the most? At what point did I change from an adolescent to an adult? Have I even become an adult? The task seems too daunting to begin. The hardest part is not sitting down and writing the essay, it is reliving the memories that sit before me in black letters on a white page.

Trying to fit the story of Young Life camp or my first job into a college essay seems nearly impossible. I can barely finish telling someone about these adventures over dinner, let alone compress it into a few paragraphs. I try and decide on one particular memory from these extravagant stories to zero in on, but it’s useless. I can’t decide between minute details, and I give up. What would be interesting to a college about a week away from home anyway?

I try and settle on something I have learned over the course of high school. I learned about integrity, humility and patience, yet there is no tangible way to explain these truths. Next I move onto the influential people I have encountered over my lifetime. The list is endless, and they all have great stories I could write about, but their stories are not mine.

I cannot write an essay convincing a college I am a promising intellect by explaining the successes of others. Defeated and at my wit’s end, I begin to wonder if college is worth it in the end.

As I travel through my last year of high school, life becomes a catch-22. Adventure awaits outside of the doors of high school, but all I want is to aimlessly wander the halls I grew up in.

I think back to every possible life-changing event or trip I have considered writing my college essay on. The idea crosses my mind of living within these memories instead of exploring what the rest of the world has to offer. Routine seems great — until the revelation that even routine begins with discovery.

I would never have those memories without first stepping out into the world and taking risks. Without courage and bravery, I wouldn’t have anything to look back on or to call my routine. In fact, my routine has been broken through the constant adventure of life. I have been defined and changed by every decision I have made.

The person I am today is no longer who I was yesterday or the year before. It is through this ongoing revision of myself that I begin to see exactly how my life has changed.

These changes, good and bad, have made me the person I am today. And before I can even catch my breath, I have made a new discovery: how to write a college essay.

Keeley Anderson is a senior at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.



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