A Guest Post by Olivia Lindquist Bowen
On August 1, www.CommonApp.org will release its latest round of materials for students applying to the Class of 2016. While there are many ways to prepare for the writing of college application essays, one often overlooked—but particularly enjoyable—project is to actively read wonderful writing.
First, let’s talk about what “active reading” means. Have you ever gotten to the end of a page or article and realized you had no idea what it said? That’s not active reading. When we read actively, we look up words we don’t know and we try to analyze the decisions the writer made. If something worked well, we try to figure out why; if something flopped, we try to understand why the writer chose to do it that way, and why it didn’t work. When we read actively, we scrawl notes and questions throughout the margins, and underline passages that struck us for one reason or another.
At the Royston Writing Institute, whenever we begin to work with a student on her college application essays, we start not with writing or brainstorming, but with reading and discussing great works. In this way, we can identify specific strategies and forms that can serve as touch points moving forward.
So what should you read as you prepare to write your college application essays? The short answer is: anything written by a masterful writer. (When in doubt, Pulitzer Prize winners are a great place to start.) But if you’d like a little more guidance, here are eight of our favorite resources.
Stay Tuned for Part #2!
Olivia Lindquist Bowen is the Founder and Director of Education for the Royston Writing Institute. She founded RWI to help students find and express their most compelling stories in their college application essays. RWI mentors focus on the mechanics of strong writing in order to help students thrive once they arrive at university. You can follow Olivia on Twitter, ask questions on Formspring, and become a fan on Facebook. Visit her website at http://roystonwriting.com/