The second reason for keeping a journal is that, as written with the journal prompts pro- vided on page 70, it can be a great source of ideas. In your journal, you can write about what is important to you, your goals and aspirations, your values, and your take on everything from popular culture to current events. Coupled with the information you gather in your personal inventory, a journal is the perfect raw data from which to begin the essay writing process. Take a minimum of five min- utes a day to write or type something personal. In order to do that, you need to make the process as simple and painless as possible. Think about your habits, and which of the two help to write research paper journaling options best suits them. You can write in a book you have designated as your journal, or you can make journal entries on your computer, either in word processing documents, or in one of the many new online journal sites. If you are writing, get a journal that is small enough to carry with you everywhere you go.
Pick a time and place to write in your journal each day. If you are typing, set aside a specific time to journal. Open your journal document before going online to avoid distractions. If you are considering an online journal, visit www. Some sites require you to type entries while online, and others have downloadable diaries that may be added to at any time. A potential problem with these types of sites is the distractions. Consider trying some of the following prompts to shake up an existing journal, or to get you started on a new one. If you are new to journaling, find some paper, or open a word processor document, and write about yourself, the world as you see it, a good thing that happened today, a bad thing that happened today. The subjects are limitless, but remember to keep it about you. Use the following prompts to help you if you are stuck, or want some direction for your writing. Use as many details as possible to show, rather than tell, why they are so important to you. Be as personal as possible: how has the event changed your thinking? How has it impacted your daily life or your future plans? Did you learn something about yourself or the world? Are you a changed person because you took the risk?
Describe it in great detail and remember to keep it personal.
Recount the expe- rience as specifically as possible, using the five senses to detail it. Listen to a certain kind of music while studying or reading? Cook something for yourself when you are stressed out? Aside from the requisite world peace and clean environment, think about the day-to-day things that would make a difference to you.
Would your favorite band per- form free concerts at your school every Saturday?
Once you begin the essay writing stage, your journal will become an invaluable tool. It can help you to use the right tone, neither too casual nor too formal, so that your essay sounds like you. While rereading it, make note of the words you use and what your voice sounds like when you write. Also, coursework resources make note of the ideas and topics that hold your interest.
PERSONAL INVENTORY The personal inventory in this section is designed to help you mine your life for raw mate- rial that you can use in your essay. Although you should include as much information as possible in a college admissions essay, keep in mind a number of important qualities that readers are looking for. The qualities you will be rated in include: creative, original thoughts motivation self confidence independence, initiative intellectual ability What activities and experiences can you write about that highlight one or more of these? How can you show (rather than tell) in your essay that you have these qualities? List anything and everything that comes to mind for each section, leav- ing a few lines between each entry (so you can fill them out with details later). History Think back to your earliest memory, and go from there. Move chronologically, cat- aloguing events in your life, until you reach the most recent one(s). Spend the most time coursework resources on the past few years, unless you already know you will write about an event from your childhood. Achievements and Accomplishments List all awards or other commendations you have received (academic, extra-cur- ricular, etc. Include goals you have reached or accomplished, that coursework resources may not have been recognized by others. What has been important to you and your personal growth? Activities Outside the classroom, what have you spent your time doing?
Why did you start the activity, and, if applicable, why do you continue with it? Remem- ber, many of these are listed in other places on your application.
Think about things you have done that are not mentioned elsewhere, or not given significant attention, on the rest of the application. Influences Make a list of the people, events, works of art, literature, and music that have affected you. You may want to ask friends and family members to help with this.
Passions What makes your blood boil or your heart beat faster? Is there a sports team you follow with fervor, a book you have read ten times, a topic of local, national, or global importance that gets you riled up? They include a free choice topic, which is often used for exit essays. The first five come from the Com- mon Application, which is currently accepted by over two hundred colleges and universi- ties. Schools that have their own applications often use these same topics as well. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced, and its impact on you. You are guaranteed to write an original essay if you focus on something that you alone expe- rienced or find significance in.
Writing an essay on what it felt like to drive a car alone for the first time, for instance, or why you enjoy preparing a favorite recipe, can show your creativity and your willingness to see the big picture.