writer | college essay coach


Writing Tools

Word Ladders

Write an important goal at the top of the ladder. Then, at the bottom of the ladder, write an activity you’ve identified as instrumental in reaching your goal on the first rung above step one, and continue writing on each step until you reach the top. Fill in as many or as few steps as you can think of, but be decisive. Here are some examples:

If your goal is to be a marine biologist, you could:

  1.  Visit the local aquarium.

  2. Research marine biology online.

  3. Take extra science classes in school or sign up for an after-school program.

  4. Interview a marine biologist and see if you can job shadow.

  5. Apply to colleges that have strong marine biology programs.

If your goal is to design clothes, you could:

  1. Research the background of your favorite fashion designer.

  2. Check whether there is an internship for high school students who want to study fashion.

  3. Collect pictures of fashion that reflect your ideas and taste, then create a portfolio.

  4. Contact a local designer for an interview and possible job shadow.

  5. Apply to colleges that offer a design and fashion study curriculum.

 If your goal is to major in a foreign language, you could:

  1. Take a foreign language class in school.

  2. Start a meet-up group for other speakers.

  3. Research the culture of that country.

  4. Watch foreign films and television shows.

  5. Read a novel in your chosen language.


Journey Maps: Who Am i?

You are creating a guide to imagine your future, as if someone else were following your journey.

First, write a personal narrative about an experience that you feel will influence you in your future.

Next, brainstorm on a worksheet. Describe:

  1. A happy or exciting event.

  2. A sad event or one that you regret (did you learn something important?).

  3. A frustrating or angry event.

  4. An event that has changed your current thinking about your future.

Now you are ready to write the first paragraph of your personal essay. If you aren’t sure what you want to say, reread what you have already written to help you begin. Use this as a prompt: Write a personal narrative about an experience(s) that you feel influences your future. Put it in the form of a question. How did your experiences make you who you hope to become in the future? How do you see yourself in the future? 

  1. Open with a hook, an attention getter, a quote you like, or a funny scene.

  2. Use concrete details such as the five senses of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch.

  3. Answer the prompt.

 This is a first draft! Be brave! Don’t stop yourself.