Mapping Your Future: The real reason admission and scholarship essays are so hard to write


The real reason admission and scholarship essays are so hard to write

By Catherine Mueller

February 01, 2024

It's not that you don't want to write the essay. You do!

If you are like so many other people, the real reason you find essay writing difficult is you want it to be perfect. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to write the perfect essay, it becomes an issue when it’s holding you back from getting started.

Here’s some tips for getting started:

  • Write down your ideas. You’re not writing the essay yet – just jotting down thoughts and possible topics. The act of writing the ideas down may spur other ideas. If nothing else, it will keep you from forgetting an idea.
  • Talk to someone. Maybe you don’t think you don’t have anything to write about or maybe you don’t have any ideas for your essay. Rather than stare at a blank sheet of paper, talk to someone. A parent, counselor, teacher, or friend could help you get started with just a conversation or by asking you questions about your future plans.
  • Decide on a central message or theme. What one thing do you want the reader to remember after reading your essay? For example, there may be something you’ve experienced personally and by achieving an educational goal, you will be able to help others facing the same issue. Or maybe you’ve been fortunate and want to do something to contribute to society.
  • Draft an outline. Once you have that central message or theme, write down some supporting points. For instance, do you need to provide some background or history? Why do you think this is important? What impact can you have? What do you envision for the future?
  • Know your first draft will not be perfect. Behind every great writer is a great editor. Have someone else review your draft and be ready to take constructive criticism. Anyone who knows you and cares about your success will provide valuable feedback to improve your essay.

While it’s important to have someone else review and edit your draft essay, you should not be your own editor – either with the final draft or even when you are just coming up with ideas for the essay.

By putting away the editing pencil and just getting all your ideas down on paper, you’re taking that important first step to writing what could become something perfect for college admissions or for a scholarship award.