We are going to be honest with you: there is no good time to write college essays. There are only the “least worst” times.
Why? Because there will always be something else happening in your life! Something more interesting, time-consuming, exciting, stressful…you get the idea.
That being said, your college essays need to get written, preferably with plenty of time before application deadlines. After working with many different students over many years, we know that writing an essay is much easier when broken into smaller pieces—so, starting earlier, easing into this process, and giving plenty of time for self-reflection and brainstorming are pivotal.
So, when is the “least worst” time to start writing my college essays?
For ALL students, it is ideal to start the brainstorming process for essays in the winter of junior year. The hardest part of writing college essays is coming up with the topics of the essays; it takes a great deal of self-reflection and time. This also means that if your school gives an assignment in the spring to write the personal statement (also known as the Common App essay), you are ready to go!
For most students, the best approach is to write college essays during the summer after junior year and to finish essay writing before the beginning of your senior year. This way, college essays are off your plate and you can focus on submitting your applications and on your senior-year classes and activities.
For students who go to summer camp, it’s ideal to finish writing your personal statement before going to camp. Then, aim to finish any supplemental essays before October 31st.
For students who are applying for Early Action or Early Decision, it is a good idea to finish your essays by late September—a month before most ED/EA deadlines. This way, you have plenty of time to review the essays before submitting ED/EA applications in early or mid-October.
For students with a lot of supplement essays, essays should ideally be finished by October 31st. This way, you can focus on senior year (when grades are still paramount), and have plenty of time to work on addressing any deferrals or waitlists that may arise.
For ALL students, it is ideal to have essays finished one month before the deadline. This provides plenty of time to proofread, nitpick, and tweak the essays, without having to worry about time pressure.
How can Ivy Experience help with college essays?
The Essay Coaches at Ivy Experience are here to help students with every phase of the college essay and application process: project-managing by giving students assignments and keeping them on deadlines (so parents don’t have to!) in a timely manner, encouraging students to self-reflect on their stories, and pushing students with critical feedback on every draft of every essay and application before reviewing and proofing final versions.
We begin working with students in November of their junior year; anytime during the winter is the ideal time to start so that we have time to get to know the student, build a relationship and trust, and have the opportunity to provide broader counseling in the second half of junior year.
If you are interested in talking to us more about essay writing help, please contact us!