Writing college essays is a much more time-consuming process than most expect going into the college admissions process. Depending on the colleges you apply to, a student can go from writing a single Common App or Coalition essay (like if you are applying to UMD) to writing tons of supplements for varying colleges. I myself ended up writing about 15 essays when I only applied to 6 schools. This is also a result of applying to Honors Colleges as well. Some supplements vary from a few sentences to a full page essay depending on the prompt and word count limit. That is why it is imperative to start early. You want to start, especially your general “who you are” essay, the summer before your senior year. This gives you the optimal amount of time to go through several drafts with editing and revising and asking others to read it and see if they can hear your voice in it. As you narrow your college lists, you can start to look at the specific prompts and word/length requirements.