For many colleges, applications are due between November and January (see note below). While November is still weeks away, you should be working on your applications NOW. Every player applying to an NCAA school must submit an application, even if you’ve been recruited to play for a specific program. Applications are simpler than they used to be. Most can be submitted online and many schools use the same application that can be sent to several colleges at once. Simple or not, getting through an application can be tough. That’s why it is important to start early.
Almost all applications include questions that you have to answer with more than a few words. Among other things, they’ll ask about your most important experiences, your goals and/or what makes you different from other applicants. On the surface, these questions might seem simple. But if you think that blank page or empty box is impossible to fill, you are not alone. Here are some tips to get you past the “writer’s block” that might keep you from working on or finishing your applications.
Tip #1. If you can’t get started answering the essay questions, try talking to friends and family about things you want to say in your answers.
Talking to people about your ideas can help you make them more clear in your mind and decide which ideas are most important. It might help to take notes when you are talking so you can remember which ideas are best to use in your answers.
Tip #2. If you know what you want to say but can’t find the right words, get started by writing one sentence for each idea.
Let’s say you’ve decided that you want to talk about being the captain of your varsity baseball team but you aren’t sure how to start. You could write one sentence for each of the most important things you want to say. Here are some examples:
- When I was captain of the team, we had the first winning season in 4 years.
- As captain of the team, I was in charge of warm-ups and I changed the routine to include more group activities.
- When I was captain of the team, I helped deal with conflicts among players.
Tip #3. If you don’t know what order to put your ideas in, try writing your sentences out on index cards or sticky notes and organize them on your desk.
Even though it’s easy to move sentences around on a computer, moving things around with your hands can help you if you are stuck. When you move things with your hands, you use different parts of your brain than when you are staring at a screen. Using more parts of your brain can help you get past writer’s block.
Once you have followed these tips, you will 1) know the most important things you want to say; 2) have each idea summarized in a sentence; and 3) know the best order for your ideas. Now, you have the “frames” you need to finish each section of your application. No more blank pages. Just add the details for your sentences and make sure your final paragraphs are in logical order.
Be sure to have someone you trust look over your answers before you submit your application. Get started now!
NOTE: If you start getting recruited by a college program after the school’s general application deadline and you didn’t submit an application, coaches will likely have a way to help you complete an application that will be reviewed by admissions if they decide to offer you a spot on the team. Cut-off dates will vary from school to school, and this is not a strategy you want to count on as your only options for college. If you haven’t already, start your applications today!