Education

Keep a personal diary to write better college essays

keep a personal diary in your books for better essays

Not everyone keeps a diary, but those that do are in luck!  A diary is for documenting personal experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly), but did you know this collection of detailed drama can be material for college essays? Not only is a diary useful when writing a college application essay, but occasionally, professors will call for personal experience in essay assignments and exams. In this way, having material to refer to is beneficial. There are plenty of sources for college essay help, but to start with, here is how you can turn your diary into a college essay:

Relate to the Topic

Telling a story that has nothing to do with the topic will be useless for your essay. Therefore, you must search for something in your diary that can relate to the topic well. This could either be a time when you encountered someone who had an integral impact on your life or an event that taught you a significant life lesson. Your own story will have meaning to you, but if it doesn’t coincide with the topic, it will be hard for the reader to understand and follow along.

Tell the Story with Structure

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. In order to grab and hold your reader’s attention, following the basic story structure is advised. First, introduce the scene to spark interest. Towards the middle, reveal the conflict to create suspense. Finally, conclude the story with how the conflict was resolved and what you learned from the outcome. Whether this takes up an entire page or just one paragraph, using story structure will keep your reader involved.

Eliminate Emotional Rants

Just because you are using material from your life doesn’t mean you have to write like you would in your diary. Since you are writing a college essay, there must remain a professional tone to your voice. Even though you are writing a story that has significant meaning to your life, you must refrain from overusing how you felt throughout the entire story. The key is balance; balance the facts with your emotions and your personal story will be powerful and well-written.

Read and Re-write

Sometimes, a story may seem significant to the direction of an essay until you later read how it actually fits in. If you read the essay as a whole and realize the story you chose now seems out of place, don’t be afraid to take it out completely and start again. As an avid diary writer, there are bound to be other useable stories in your journal.

Although it may seem intimidating to present a personal story in a college essay, using one is a great way to introduce your unique personality and perspective. Your reader will get a better idea of who you are, which in turn, will forge a stronger voice. Again, only use a personal story if it fits with the topic, has been requested as part of the assignment, or helps prove your side of the argument in the essay.