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, you’ll start by being a Thinker.

Here, you’ll focus on ideas and raw content.

If you want to write a great college essay, you’ve got to start with ideas.

Not good ideas. Not unique ideas. Not impressive ideas.

Just…ideas.

And, you’ll need to write some raw content.

Not good, or correctly-spelled, or even coherent content.

Just…raw content.

That’s your mission as a Thinker: to find a bunch of story starters and write a TON of raw content.

But first—now that you’ve completed the Foundation phase and learned more about college essays and the process you’ll use to write yours—let’s check in again.

 Right now, how do you feel about writing your essay?

Pretty good

Hooray! We’re glad you’re starting out feeling good. And, don’t worry if it doesn’t always seem that way. Professional writers and celebrated authors often describe the writing process like a roller-coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. The most important thing is to remember to follow the instructions and stay on the ride till the end.

If you do, it all turns out. Promise.

So-so

Yep, we get it. That’s how a lot of the students we work with feel about writing essays. We’ll help you get there.

Remember, writing is work. It takes real thinking (not just the learning what someone else has thought kind of thinking), and sometimes even the best writers feel kind of down about it. You don’t need to feel gung-ho every step of the way. We’ve designed this process for students by working with lots of teens who’ve felt the same way. The process worked for them, and it will for you too.

The good news is, you’ll get there. Just keep going.

Don't ask

That bad, huh? Don’t worry, we all have those moments. It’s part of writing. Think of all you’re doing: You’re learning new pro-level writing skills. You’re looking at yourself in new ways. You’re writing your college essay, which may seem a bit more important than your last English assignment.

That’s a lot. It might even be kind of weird if your brain didn’t hurt a little bit. We built this process to help you get through all that to a great essay even when you don’t feel good about the process.

But for now, dive in and do the activities step-by-step. Sometimes, a few quick successes like just finishing some exercises can make all the difference.

No matter where you are, stick with it, and you’ll end up with an essay you’ll be proud of.

And be ready to be surprised—you might find yourself enjoying the journey!

Now, read this comic

We can’t do a better job at explaining what it means to be a Thinker.

It’s written by one of our favorite creative geniuses: The Oatmeal.

We’d like to thank The Oatmeal for his brilliant comics, and for letting us share them with you. Check out his website and online store (with games, posters, and books you may love).

Basically, your mission is to make baby chicks.

Whether you’re writing a comic strip or a college essay, as a Thinker, your mission is to come up with a lot of ideas and get out as much raw content as you can, as quickly as you can.

You probably didn’t learn how to do this in high school. That’s ok. We’ll teach you!

In the next phase, as a Storyteller, you’ll choose which of those baby chicks will be in your essay. In the Writer phase, you’ll polish them up and make them look pretty.

But for now, go for quantity, quantity, quantity.

The Thinker steps

1. Find some story starters

The more ideas, the better! This isn’t about finding “The Perfect Topic.” You’ll simply make a list of stories, topics, and events you could write about. You have no idea where they’ll take you.

2. Write a TON of raw content.

How do you get amazing content for your essay? You have to write, write, and write some more. But not good stuff. Start with garbage, and lots of it. We’ll show you some sneaky tricks that will unlock the stories and ideas hiding in the back of your mind. They’re in there. We promise.

3. Self-review your work.

How do you know if you’re on the right track? We’ll give you powerful self-review tools that will help you determine just that.  Then, using a specially designed feedback form, you can get useful input from people who know you well. We’ll have you check your work regularly—that’s one of the secrets of great writers.