As your parents keep asking if you’ve finished your college applications yet, you may groan inwardly and try to procrastinate. But writing those application essays doesn’t have to be so torturous. Sometimes it’s only a matter of having the right tools to stimulate the writing genius inside of you. Here are seven of our favorite tools to get you started — and finished!
1. Coffitivity: music for writing your essays
Productivity doesn’t thrive everywhere. Certain atmospheres are preferable to others, and sound can play a big role in that. Silence can be unnerving and, for some, induce anxiety. Music can help, but when the tunes get catchy, concentration is doomed. But there is a happy medium — white noise. It lacks the distracting aesthetic intrigue of music, yet still avoids the discomfort of silence. Coffitivity is fun because it provides the ambient sounds of a café to boost your creativity and help you work better, without forcing you to be in public or feel pressured to buy a $5 coffee!
2. Essay Topic Generator: it’s in the name!
Where to begin? You’ve read through the essay prompts, and you’re drawing a blank. Or maybe you have a million ideas but can’t narrow them down to one single focus. In either situation, Essay Topic Generator might be your new friend. Toss a few keywords into the generator, select an essay style (such as ‘persuasive’ or ‘reflective’) and boom — you have a list of ideas to choose from, or at least fodder for your own brainstorming.
3. Tomato Timer: reserve time to get work done
Often, the hardest part about writing your college essays is maintaining the discipline to simply sit and write. There are so many things you’d rather be doing, not to mention the near-constant temptation to answer texts and social media notifications. But Tomato Timer helps you break up your time into manageable 25-minute sessions during which you ignore everything but your work until the timer rings. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you buckle down and work for a solid number of minutes. Then, you take a break, check your notifications and repeat.
4. One Look Thesaurus: opening up your vocabulary
Searching for the perfect word? Thesauruses are always useful, but One Look is unique. You can use it in the traditional manner to find synonyms when your own vocabulary runs dry. But the coolest feature it offers is the reverse dictionary feature, which has you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. This essentially serves as a brainstorm for the direction in which your essay can go once you’ve picked a topic.
5. Hemingway Editor: cutting out what is needed
You want to impress the admissions staff with your essay, but all too easily you might slip into unnecessary wordiness. Enter Hemingway. The modern writer was known for his concise, unadorned style, and this app can help your writing become as direct and readable as the Iceberg Theory man himself.
6. Grammarly: remove errors from your essays
Nothing clouds your meaning as much as poor grammar. And let’s face it — Microsoft Word just doesn’t cut it with grammar and spell check. But Grammarly has a much more advanced editor that will scan your text for more than 250 grammar rules, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement. Play it safe by submitting an essay that is free of errors and can be evaluated solely on the merit of its message and composition.
Feeling inspired yet? Applying to college can be stressful, and completing your application essays can sometimes be the hardest part. But if you fill your toolbelt with these apps and websites, you’ll be writing like a champ in no time.