First, let me tell you what you already know: start the essay early. I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake, because you already know that too.
Ask people you trust (parents, teachers, friends) for feedback.
You might be an ordinary-looking rising senior from the suburbs of Cleveland, but that’s not a handicap if you find what’s yours, and what’s extraordinary, about being an ordinary-looking rising senior from your particular family, at your particular school, in your particular suburb, in your particular room, in your particular house, with your particular stuff piled in the corner.
An essay takes off when you finally nail down -- after a lot of hair-pulling and deleted drafts and storming away from the computer and then coming back to it on fire with a new idea or image -- why your topic matters to you. in Comparative Literature from UCLA, and is fascinated by stories in all their incarnations -- everything from the mammoth 19th century novels to blogs to short stories -- but particularly by the first-person essay form. D.: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life, the j.
In the end, it’s not the topic at all; it’s the execution.
Starting the college essay feels a little bit like doing the death drop for the first time: it makes you feel simultaneously brave and vulnerable, and it requires enormous faith in the forces of physics and in your own agility and strength.
The death drop is done by clambering into a sitting position on top of a bar at least five feet off the ground, with the bar squeezed directly behind your knees.
You keep your legs bent around the bar and fall backwards.
And you probably also know that starting what Anne Lamott calls the “#$%*& first draft” is hard too, and so is revising that @#$&* first draft. Thousands of people have already written about this topic.” Thousands of people probably written about this topic, and thousands more probably will.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it; it means try not to listen to the Greek chorus of prohibition and foreboding in your head. There are no new stories under the sun, but there are new ways of telling them.