Those who have taken initial steps toward college admission deserve long and loud applause. It is important to keep in mind that your college essay constitutes the very backbone of all other application materials. It also provides what is probably your only opportunity to distinguish yourself from the sea of college-minded competitors. Following are some very helpful hints with time-proven value for prospective students. They have universal applicability in all academic settings and scholastic scenarios.

 1. Begin to brainstorm

 You may have heard the above advice all your life. College essay preparation is no exception to this timeless and ubiquitous rule. Jot down all random thoughts that come to mind while sitting down with pen in hand. Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, or format here. Just let the feelings flow freely as you duly record them in whatever shape, form, or fashion as may suit your fancy.

2. Ensure total accuracy

Take extreme care when citing statistics, recounting famous quotes, or simply showcasing your personal knowledge. Always make sure that you have the real "lowdown" prior to proceeding any further.  Thoroughly research all sources and verify their validity and reliability.

3. Never tell a lie

If you ignore all the other advice offered herein, heed the preceding rule above everything else. Do not attempt to "build yourself up" or "stretch the truth" about your background or prior academic record. Half-truths, omissions, exaggerations, and outright fabrications have a frightening habit of coming back to haunt you.  When it comes to college admission applications, honesty is not the best policy - it is the ONLY policy.  After all, do you really want to enroll in a school whose authorities hate the "real you?"  Eventual misery and ultimate failure are the likely "rewards" for your deceptive efforts!

4. Make it personal

Your overriding objective when preparing any college essay is to let admissions committee members get to know the "true you." Be fully frank and completely forthright about your prior life experiences and future aspirations. Be totally candid when explaining why you want to attend their institution.

5. Do not hesitate or delay

 Avoid waiting until the eleventh hour to start or finish this process. Despite the existence of a definite deadline, give admissions officers - and yourself - a head start with an early application submission. It is amazing to find how much more freely and completely your thoughts will flow absent time pressure!

There you have it in a nutshell. Following the simple five steps listed above gets you off to a great start in your college essay preparation campaign!