In addition to practice writing, the other form of “essay prep” that naturally occurs during junior year is researching the colleges on your prospective list. While doing this research,
take written notes on each school. Include the things that interest you most and make a note of anything unique to a particular school. Jot down the reasons why the school could be a good fit for you. Same deal for campus visits: take notes! These notes will save you precious time and energy when you’re ready to tackle the “Why Us” supplemental essays on your applications.
Now it may sound like my advice to date is adding extra work to your already busy life. And it can be tempting for a well-intentioned parent to want to step in and do some of this early prep work. But the college application process is a crucial step in a student’s growth and that growth starts with the student taking ownership of their process.
So, it goes without saying that you will be the sole author of your college essays. Beyond that, it’s really up to you to decide how much you want to discuss your essays with your folks while you’re drafting them. Sometimes parents can be helpful when it comes to brainstorming ideas and/or remembering events. But keep in mind that college admissions readers want to learn more about you and your perspective and they are very good at recognizing the difference between a teenager’s voice/ideas versus those of an adult.
Typically, I suggest that students work on their essays with minimal, if any, input from their parents to ensure the essay is their own. If a family hires a consultant, that person can maintain a middle ground between providing guidance without becoming a co-author. One way that parents can be super helpful in the essay process is by working with you to put together a realistic timeline for completing your essays.