Check out the Complete Cheerleader's Guide To College Prep!

The dreaded college application essay... how important is it? Let's just say that the essay is as important to your college application as spirit is to your cheerleading squad. Without a properly thought-out, insightful and grammatically correct essay, your college application can be DOA.

So how can you make sure that your essay keeps you flying high in your potential colleges' eyes? Prepare a plan of attack the same way you would for your fundraising activities or competitions! Use these tips to get started:

Range and Focus
Each application that you decide to send in is going to require your time, energy and an application fee. Try to choose colleges that cover diverse academic programs, athletics and accolades, but be sure each choice offers something for your specific goals.

Quality Stands Out
If you were choreographing a routine, you'd want to have fewer stunts that were perfect, instead of tons of stunts that were sloppy. Same goes for college applications–quality over quantity. Applying for college is a process, with many steps. Pick your top schools and spend time mastering those essays.

Show Your Personality
Pick a topic that will allow your pep, spirit and passion to shine through. Whatever you decide to write about is going to be a reflection of you. Apply that creativity that you use during cheerleading practice to your essay, and your values, preferences and thought process will help the colleges get a better idea of who you are and showcase your positive outlook.

Top-ic Off With Sincerity
Make sure you have a memorable essay by focusing on a single memorable experience. If you try to respond to an essay topic by throwing in as much information about yourself as you can, your skills and your accomplishments, you'll actually end up sounding insincere. For your essay to be the most effective, be specific. Don't forget, your college application will have a designated spot for you to list your awards and extra-curricular activities, and your grades and test score will demonstrate your intelligence. Choose an essay topic that will allow you to show the colleges what else you have to offer.

Write Right
Competition judges can be hard to impress, and they will take points off if you do a move incorrectly. Colleges are no different! If your essay is packed with distracting grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, chances are your essays will be hard to read and won't be taken seriously. Have at least 5 different people, including your English teacher, proof your essay before you send it in.

For The Block
If you find yourself with a case of writer's block, don't worry! These tips can help you regain your writing pep:
  • Talk it out! Many times, simply discussing your ideas and essay topic with someone can give you new perspective. Just make sure you have a pen and paper ready to take notes!

  • Make time! Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them. Think about your essays like a new routine, you can't procrastinate going to practice, and you can't procrastinate writing your college essays!

  • Get a writing buddy! Work with your friends or teammates and share the process. You'll have someone to bounce ideas off of and can motivate each other.

  • Switch it up! If you are working on multiple essays, try dividing your time between them (but make sure you pay attention to all of your deadlines!). Sometimes, walking away from an intense essay will give you time to recuperate and bring a fresh approach to the writing.

  • Explore space! Change your scenery, change the lighting, change your chair–try to make your space fun! Finding new surroundings can take the "˜blah' out of the writing process.
Stay on track with CollegeBoard.com's College Application Checklist.