Sitting in front of your computer, reading and rereading essay questions, trying to figure out what the admissions committee wants to hear…it’s overwhelming. Most applicants have a hard time just getting started. Over the weekend, applicant Anand Rao wrote about the prep work he did before taking the plunge. I have plenty of clients who can relate to his attempts to organize before typing those initial words. In the first moments, as you begin your essays, you may actually consider scrapping it all and applying next year. Or you may find other, more creative ways to procrastinate.
There are plenty of ways to prepare your content so that you are ready to write. We go through a number of exercises with clients struggling with writer’s block. One very simple approach is to write out a list of key topics you want to communicate to the admissions committee. For example: accelerated career progression, mentoring experiences, international focus, non-profit leadership. Once you have your list, you can map your topics to specific essay questions. Make sure that all of your material is tied to at least one question. Once you have your essay topics organized, you can put together outlines with specific examples.
After that, you need to just start writing. As you write your initial drafts, don’t worry about perfecting the content or the grammar, and certainly do not worry about word count. It’s less difficult to edit a draft than it is to start from scratch. If nothing else, the goal of your first draft should be to give yourself something to work with so that you can move forward.