Thanks to Anna Paez, University of Pennsylvania, '19, for working at my picnic table.

Web design & photo credit: Anna-Elyse Schwabacher

FIND YOUR IDEAS.

GREAT IDEAS START WITH A STORY.

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 Essaymom suggests that you begin your search for an idea by finding a story  from  the past few years that's meaningful to you.  If the story is meaningful --  a lesson learned or a revised outlook   -- it will do the job of conveying those 2 all-important messages: you're ready for college life and you can describe your uniqueness as a person.  

Searching your daily life, rather than reaching for  high drama and impressive achievements, will likely produce more ideas that  will ring true to the reader.  Your accolades and exotic stories can work, too, of course, as long as your essay pinpoints how these experiences have truly defined who you are today. 

DIG AROUND YOUR ROOM/WALLET/BACKPACK.

Objects tell stories that can be turned into great essays. Consider Maddie's keychain, a tiny plastic replica of  Venus of Willendorf , a sculpture that dates to 25,000 BCE. The keychain reminded Maddie of  seeing Venus in a museum, and how  it inspired her  fascination with the depiction women in art through the centuries. Maddie used the story for UVA's essay about "a work of art that surprised or challenged you." 

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THINK ABOUT YOUR RITUALS.

The things you do with regularity can tell admissions something truly wonderful and unique about you. Perry's ritual is baking bread every Sunday. He wrote about the thirty minutes he spends kneading the dough, and thinking whatever happens to be going on in his world. This idea worked perfectly for this prompt: "Where are you perfectly content?"

READ YOUR RESUMÈ.

Think about the past 3 years:  teachers, jobs, summer activities, community service, favorite projects, clubs and  sports.   Spend a few minutes and allow memories to arise.   Here's Parker's idea.  
  
 Parker made a decision during an Eagle Scout hike in New Mexico that jeopardized the safety of the group.   (His essay is the most frightening that Essaymom has read in her 8 years of doing this).

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Maddie is a sophomore at Elon.

Perry is a junior at St. Mary's/Maryland. 

Parker is a sophomore at Elon.