Release Your Inner Storyteller When Writing College Essays

Essays are kind of a big deal when applying to colleges. One of the reasons that seniors struggle in this area is that their instruction has been mainly focused on writing research papers and book reports. They deliver technical facts quite well but that doesn’t make for memorable reading.

Recently, I gave one of my young writers the following example to demonstrate the difference in telling someone “about” a subject and telling the story “of” a subject.

About – My favorite part of camping was always walking the trails with my father. I have no doubt that my father is to thank for my great love of nature and my never-ending curiosity to anything that moved. We would always walk together and share our discoveries such as the praying mantis on the wall or the beautiful butterfly fluttering from flower to flower.

Of – “Wait Nancy.” My father’s words froze me in my tracks. Hiking these trails so far from civilization they could be a warning for anything from a dangerous predator to a stand of beautiful flowers. Thankfully, this time it was only something he wanted me to see. Just off the path there were indeed beautiful flowers but they went almost unnoticed because of the large and unbelievably vivid-colored butterflies. The camera on my phone began snapping pictures almost before I realized it was in my hand.
My father pointed out the most fascinating things when we escaped to the Texas wilderness to hike the trails. Every new discovery only served to make me eager to learn more about the outdoors and the creatures that lived there…

See the difference? You want to engage the reader while giving them the information you want them to know. You have all the information already. Now deliver it while giving the reader the story “of” your love for animals and the outdoors.


I hope this gives a little insight to other rising seniors as they struggle to put their thoughts down on paper.

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