college application essay

Photo Via Goop

 

This might seem random, but I found some powerful writing advice on the blog of Gwyneth Paltrow that I believe is relevant to students writing their college application essays, and others, especially women.

The woman Paltrow recently featured in her blog, Goop, had some opinions about how women have unconscious habits in their speech and writing that cause them to come across as less confident and competent.  And they hit me hard. When I thought about it, I was surprised how my lingering insecurities and self-esteem issues still creep into my writing, and even how I talk. So I thought you might would find them interesting, too.

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college application essay

Storytelling “Clues” from a Master
for your College Application Essay

If anyone knows how to spin a great story, it’s this guy: Andrew Stanton. Ok, I hadn’t heard of him before either, but I certainly know about his films: All the Toy Story movies, Monsters, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and a ton more. If you are working on your college application essay, you grew up with all these popular animated films.

Stanton is an American filmmaker with Pixar studios, and he recently gave a TED talk about what makes a story powerful. His greatest storytelling commandment? “Make me care,” he says.

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college application essay

Learn to Vet College Application Writing Experts

Read PART ONE on How to Find The Best Essay Help on College Application Essays first…

Here are other potential sources of help for writing personal statement essays for college admissions:

2. High School College Counselors: Remember that most of these counselors have literally hundreds of students to guide through the admissions process. If you are lucky, you might be able to bounce off topic ideas, find direction to other resources or even get them to read your drafts. This can be immensely helpful, since most of these counselors have a strong idea of what makes an effective essay. But you might have to seek out more help on your own.

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college application essay

If you landed on my Essay Hell blog, there’s a strong chance you are in search of help on writing your college application essay. Yes, that’s what I do, and I’m happy to help you. But I was thinking of how I would advise a student or parent who is looking for someone to assist in the essay writing process (other than me).

There are many options—from private college counselors to teachers and smart friends. Many “experts” claim to know their stuff, but it’s important to make them prove it. I think the trick is to A. determine if your essay helper really understands what makes a good college admissions essay (a very specific type of writing), and B. has the experience and skills to help a student write or improve her or his own.

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college application essay

How to Answer Prompt 4 for the Common App

for your College Application Essay


Prompt 4: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scaleExplain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

You almost can’t go wrong if you pick this prompt to write your college application essay for The Common Application for 2015-16. It sets you up perfectly to tell an engaging story, which makes the best personal statement-style essays.

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college application essay

 The Five Prompts to Write your College Application Essay
for The Common Application

The folks at the Common Application announced the five essay prompts students will choose from to write their core essay for the coming college admissions “season.” I’m sharing them below. In general, I think they improved upon the options, and the prompts will elicit more interesting and meaningful college application essays. Bravo Common App!

Students just starting this process don’t even need to bother to know what the old ones were, and should just focus on understanding these new ones. I will update the information I offer in this blog in the next week or so to make everything accurate and clear.

For those in the college admissions industry who watch these changes as closely as I do, here’s a look at the new prompts, in a nutshell. Bottom line: The main change was they replaced Prompt Four. (The new instructions are in italics; my comments in red.):

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college application essay 

 One of the Hot Writing Tips
for College Application Essays

I’m excited to share one of the 50-plus writing tips, techniques and ideas from my just-published guide: Essay Hell’s Writing Survival Kit, now available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon. This one is from Chapter Three, called Show the Way.

In many of the writing tips and advice, I draw helpful examples from the sample college application essays written by students at the back of the book. In the digital Kindle version, there are live links (but they won’t work in this excerpt, sorry!).

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college application essays

 

To welcome in spring, I’m offering my inspiring collection of sample college application essays free to all teachers now through the end of this month (April).

In recent years, I’ve had English teachers from all over the country contact me about my blog and writing resources. Apparently, many Language Arts programs now teach units on how to write these essays, either in the spring for high school juniors or during fall for seniors.

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 Best Writing Tips
for College Application Essays!

I’m excited to introduce my newest writing guide for college application essays: Essay Hell’s Writing Survival Kit. It includes some of the best writing tips and advice I know of, as well as other handy college admissions-related resources and sample narrative style essays written by real students.

It just debuted on Amazon as a Kindle ebook, and will be available in paperback by end of April. 

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Columist Frank Bruni of the New York Times just published one of the most timely and convincing articles today on the issue of students vying for the most elite colleges—often at the expense of their sense of self-worth. It’s a dangerous trend, and Bruni shares the stories of students who were rejected, and where they ended up.

For the most part, he found that students who steered clear of the most prestigious schools—or were outright rejected—ended up at wonderful liberal arts colleges and public universities enjoyed experiences that were rich and empowering. It was less about their classes and grades and status, and most what they learned about themselves and participating in a larger community.

“People bloom at various stages of life, and different individuals flourish in different climates,” Bruni wrote in the piece, “How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.” (To me, it’s a must-read whether you are a student or parents just starting the application process, or waiting for those acceptance letters.)

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