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"Let your mind wander, it will lead to your destination" | An MIT Student's Advice on College Essays

We had the privilege of interviewing Joseph Li,

  • a dedicated tennis player

  • a YouTuber with over 2k subscribers who share college and life advice

Joseph shared with us advice on: College Essays

Here are some important words he shares:

  • "I kind of just let the ideas come to be subconsciously."

  • "I would probably only work on an essay for about 15 minutes at a time..."

Q: How did you get inspiration when writing your essay?

A: I got about 60% of my ideas while brainstorming in my shower, and the rest usually came from when I was just about to fall asleep. I never really sat down and had a hard “think” about what I was going to write about -- I kind of just let the ideas come to be subconsciously.

Q: What type of message did you try to convey through your essay?

A: For my Common App essay, the main theme I tried to get across was increasing my willingness to go outside my comfort zone, particularly when it came to speaking out. I feel that over the course of my high school years, I had to learn how to open up to people and break out of my naturally quiet state, and I tried to convey that through that essay.

Q: Who did you ask for help when writing your essays?

A: My main resources were my friends, my older sister, and occasionally my teachers.

Q: Who did you ask to review your essays, and who would you recommend to give the most honest advice?

A: Same answer as above. For the most honest advice, I’d ask your teachers and/or your school’s college counselor. They most likely aren’t going to feel too bad if they criticize your work, so they usually provide the best feedback.

Q: Did you write each essay all in one sitting or did you space it out?

A: 100% spaced it out. I would probably only work on an essay for about 15 minutes at a time -- it took me about 2 months to write an essay from start to finish (this was of course in conjunction with every other essay I had to write).

Q: Did the schools you applied to require certain types of essays?

A: Yes -- the most common ones had to be asking why you wanted to attend that school in particular, why you wanted to study your major in college, and elaborating on an activity you did in high school.

You can check out Joseph's LinkedIn here.


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