Now, it is the start of many students’ summer vacation. To most students, this may be the time to relax and have fun. But to rising high school seniors, the beginning of summer vacation is not a time to rest, but a time to be ready for the race to college, a race that may determine their future, and a race that will bring enormous stress not only to students but also parents.
I am YingBin and I had just been through the race. And a few weeks ago, I graduated from Millennium High School and will enroll Hamilton College in this fall.
Six years ago, I immigrated to Brooklyn New York with my family. When I first arrived, I could barely speak sentences in English. In high school, I encountered countless struggles in the process of learning English.
Pressure added up when I entered 11th grade. In addition to completing essay assignments and projects every few weeks, I had to do college research and SAT preparation. On the train, I no longer had the luxury to rest. Instead, I had to do homework and study. Sometimes I would not be able to study the entire way and would fall asleep in the middle of my trip and miss my stop.
Near the end of my junior year, our college counselor at Millennium recommended that we should finish our college essays in the summer so that we would have the time and energy to cope with the applications in the fall.
My college counselor stressed that the college essay is critical to my college application because it is key to distinguishing myself among the sea of applicants.
I started looking at the essays prompts in the Common Application. One day in June, I sat down in front of my laptop and determined to write my essays.
However, I could not resist from frowning and scratching my head as I thought about what to write. After spending a few more days thinking about the essays, I managed to have few pages down. Though I had an interesting story to tell, the way I told it sounded wordy, confusing, and boring. I tried to cut some sentences and move the paragraphs around, but I just could not make the essay concise and interesting.
I was overwhelmed and the college essay seemed formidable. But an email from my college counselor brought me some hope. In the email, she informed me about Story to College, a writing workshop that helps students write powerful essays that impress college admission officers.
Though I was already enrolled in a summer program at City College for four days a week, I decided to give Story to College a try. In the following few days, I attended Story to College’s writing workshop at Macaulay Honors College. When I arrived each day, friendly instructors always smiled at me to join the group.
There was no time to waste in the workshop. In the first day, I was assigned into a small group. Within the group, instructors told their own stories in different forms to show us how we can effectively tell our stories. Then we were asked to share our individual stories with fellow participants.
In the first day, I waited to be the last one to share my story. But under the influence of attentive and compassionate participants, my confidence in public speaking grew. On the last day, I declared loudly that I wanted to be the first one to share more of my stories.
Though the workshop lasted for only three days, it was an extremely fun, productive, and rewarding experience. In the process, I heard many funny stories told by my peers.
I was amazed when a fellow participant shared that he once cooked his dad’s phone in a microwave in an attempt to end his dad’s phone addiction. At the end of the third day, in addition to the supplements, I completed a solid and coherent draft for each of the five prompts on the Common Application.
After completing the courses at Story to College, I not only learned techniques to write essays that can hook readers in and finish with a bang, but also boosted my confidence, which enables me to bravely share my story in this post.
Later on in the summer, I employed the techniques taught by the instructors at Story to College and edited the drafts to further showcase my strengths.
Of course, when my senior year begins in the fall, I felt confident about the college application because I already thoughtfully completed the most difficult part — the essays!
Later on, even though I applied to many private colleges and each requires multiple different essay supplements, I did not have to a lot of work because at Story to College I learned how to tweak my completed essays to answer different essay prompts. After the college applications, I applied for scholarships using the writing and interview skills I developed at Story to College. And recently, I found out that I won two scholarships.
In retrospect, I am proud of how my college essay turned out. Without Story to College, I probably would not have written powerful college essays that had made my teacher and friends burst out into laugher and tears at the same time.
Now my college application process is over. It is time for me to enter a new chapter of my life and embark on new challenges. But I believe that these new challenges, like the college application can be surmounted if I take one step at a time and reach out for guidance when needed.
For more information, please go to http://storytocollege.com/