College essay brainstorming techniques

Find the one that feels most comfortable to you. Right-brained thinkers are typically comfortable with a variety of shapes, ideas, and patterns. Right brains don't run from chaos. The artistic side of the right brain enjoys the process of creating--and it doesn't really matter whether they start with cluttered ideas or clumps of clay. The right brain may be most comfortable with clustering or mind mapping as a brainstorming method.

To get started, you will need a few clean pieces of paper, some tape, and a few colored pens or highlighters. You now have a basis for a paper! You can turn your wonderful, messy, chaotic creation into a well-organized paper. If the process above makes you break out into a cold sweat, you may be a left brain. If you aren't comfortable with chaos and you need to find a more orderly way to brainstorm, the bullet method might work better for you.

Some students would prefer to make a Venn diagram to organize their thoughts. This process involves drawing two intersecting circles. Title each circle with the name of the object you're comparing. Fill the circle with traits that each object possesses, while filling the intersecting space with traits the two objects share. Share Flipboard Email. Grace Fleming has a master's degree in education and is an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.

She lectures and writes about study skills. Updated March 13, Write your main idea or topic in the middle of the paper.

Start writing down thoughts in no particular pattern. Write words or passages that pertain to your main idea in some way. Once you've exhausted the random thoughts that come into your head, start using prompters like who, what, where, when, and why.

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Do any of these prompters generate more words and ideas? Consider whether prompters like "opposites" or "comparisons" would be relevant to your topic. Don't worry about repeating yourself. Just keep writing! If your paper gets full, use the second sheet. Tape it to the edge of your original paper. Keep attaching pages as necessary. That's a strength also. It's a strength, in fact, of many artists. So, no surprise, our strengths and what we love to do often relate or are intertwined. But for this essay what we wanna do is find where you really shine.

The first one will use an online tool, and it's a personality trait tool that relies on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. One of the things that I think is great about the online tool, is that oftentimes we know some of our strengths, and it's a great way to taking what you know is true about yourself, but going way beyond that.

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And it gives you a whole new set of language and ideas. Oftentimes when I'm working with students and we use the tool, they'll take the online diagnostic and they'll say, "Wow, that's me. I know that I'm a creative type of person. But sometimes it's hard to articulate them. The test tells them things that they know about themselves deep in their heart or in their mind, but it gives them a whole new way of expressing it. Let's review the results from one high school senior that I coached recently.

When he took the online personality test, or diagnostic, his type came back as ENTJ, and that stands for, in the Myers-Briggs language, extroverted, intuitive, thinking, judging.

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Here's what the tool said about ENTJs. So the next step we did was, we took those strengths and then worked to identify when those may have showed up in his life, when they were manifested.

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And the more specific he could be, the better the stories that were resulting from it. For the student I was coaching, there were two traits that seemed to have the biggest, richest stories associated with them. One was his strength of being strong-willed. The other was charismatic. Both those strengths really came into play when he was starting a new club at school, a ping-pong club.

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He wrote about how he gathered students in each grade to become club members, about finding a teacher who could be the champion or their advocate on campus. They needed to raise money to buy the equipment. They needed to find a place to set up the tables and organize the fundraisers. They did a student-teacher ping-pong match to raise money for a local charity. All of those facts show that he had a strong will. He was determined. At first when he wanted to start the club, the school said, "There's plenty of clubs. And that shows his strong will. He never explicitly uses those words in his essays, but by telling a story he's able to let those strengths show.

But he also realized that he was charismatic. He inspired other people to get involved. He inspired adults, the teacher, to get involved.

He inspired parents to do ping-pong championships and tournaments with the kids. And so those were his strengths, and the story of the ping-pong club helped showcase those strengths.

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It's important to recognize, you don't need to summarize and say, "I'm charismatic. In fact, it takes away from your story.

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Let them draw those conclusions. Let's do brainstorm number two. It's called, "My Three Words.

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Think about people from different parts of your life, maybe two friends, a parent, a teacher or two, a coach, an older sibling. Ask each of them the same question. Here are the results from one student that I coached in Seattle. The next step is where things really get interesting.

We're gonna map out the findings. Her findings clustered around three main themes, builder, problem solver, free spirit. We brainstormed a couple possibilities, and she began to focus in on one example where her strengths really did shine. She worked in a summer daycare center, and she was in charge of a lot of four to five-year-olds. And the center had two clear rules, no TV, no technology.

So her challenge was, how do you entertain or keep occupied a lotta little kids without any sort of devices? So, she started building things with them. She used the constraint of no TV and no technology to figure out a workaround. She had all the kids gather things around the room, and each day they'd do a different project.