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Learn how to write your dreaded college application essays so you can escape the stress and misery of Essay Hell asap. Read the helpful posts (click the flames!) and learn to craft narrative style (storytelling) essays that will help you land in your dream school. If you need more help, check out my services and other resources. Good luck!

Everything You Need to Know About the Three Most Common Applications

University of California Essays

University of California Essays

Brainstorm ideas and craft short essays for the eight new essay prompts for the University of California application.

Common Application Essays

Find help on choosing from the five prompts for The Common Application, and crafting a “slice-of-life” essay that helps you stand out.

ApplyTexas Essays

Learn about the all-new prompts for the ApplyTexas application, and tips and advice on writing essays for Topic A, B and C.

“Hi! This is Brittany! The girl who wrote the essay. Funnily enough, I actually used this website to help guide a lot of my application essays, including this one. So I guess this would be the perfect opportunity to say thank you! I feel like my essays definitely strengthened my entire application.”

Brittany Stinson

Accepted to 5 Ivies, Stanford and Other Awesome Schools for 2016, (She wrote the now-famous "Costco Essay" that went viral)

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College Admissions Consultants Learn Essay Coaching

A group of nine college admissions consultants from the San Diego area helped me kick-off my College Application Essay Writing Bootcamp this week.

After participating in my two-hour workshop at the beautiful home of one of the counselors in Rancho Santa Fe, the nine women are now official “Essay Jumpstart Experts,” and can sport this digital “badge” (above) on their own professional web sites.

Now, students and parents who are looking for expert guidance through the often-confusing process of applying to college will be able to find counselors who also can help students ace the dreaded college application essay. read more…

Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success Essay Prompts

Coalition for Access

The 5 New Essay Prompts for
the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success
Application (coming soon?)

(And a little rant)

What Coalition, you ask?

If you are like most of us, you either have never heard of this Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application, or you are still waiting to learn how to use it.

Or you are wondering if it even matters at this point.

Here’s what I know:

This Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success is an alternative way to apply to college, a new application system very similar to The Common Application that most private colleges and many universities use (about 500+, including the ives). read more…

UC Essay Prompt 3: Talents and Skills

uc prompt 3

What Are You Good At?

(Yes, UC Essay Prompt 3 Can Be About Almost Anything!)

 

I believe all students who need to answer four of the new University of California “Personal Insight Questions” should seriously consider the third one, otherwise known as UC Essay Prompt 3.

If you’re a student who has focused on one special talent or skill in your life, and are recognized in that field as “among the best,” this is your chance to share that in detail.

However, you don’t need to be a star at your talent or skill to write an effective essay about it.

And your talent or skill doesn’t even need to be impressive. read more…

Waitlist Essays and Letters: 12 Tips to Game Them

waitlist essays

For the first time in the eight years I’ve been helping students with their college application essays, I’ve had a flurry of requests from students asking for help with waitlist essays and letters.

What torture for them!

Most have been waiting for months and months and now they get a “maybe?”

Which really means “probably not,” but keep trying anyway. (Sorry if you didn’t know that.)

That’s what I call admissions purgatory. read more…

3 New Prompts for University of Texas and ApplyTexas essays for Fall 2017

applytexas essays

ApplyTexas, which handles the applications for the public universities in Texas, as well as many private colleges, has announced on its web site that they have all-new essay prompts for Fall 2017.

These new ApplyTexas essays apply to students who would be starting as freshman in Fall 2017, and applying to schools such as the University of Texas at Austin, or its other locations, as well as other Texas colleges.

They replaced the three main prompts, called Topic A, Topic B and Topic C, with new questions. read more…

Lessons from a Winning Ivy League Essay on Costco

ivy league essay

Viral Costco Essay Writer Thanks Essay Hell!

Read Brittany Stinson’s College Application Essay
That Landed Her in Four Ivies—plus Stanford!

I can’t resist the news stories that break this time of year announcing students who get into multiple ivy league colleges.

What I find interesting is that these articles tout the student’s college application essay as the reason they got them into these insanely competitive schools.

It’s never that simple. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 2: Your Creative Side

uc essay prompt 2

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017
(Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 2)

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

If this prompt jumped out when you first read through the eight essay prompts for the University of California application, good chance you have a creative side.

And you should seriously consider writing about it.

Even if this prompt didn’t initially appeal to you, consider it anyway.

It’s not just intended for aspiring artists! read more…

UC Essay Prompt 1: Leadership Experience

UC Essay Prompt 1

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017
(Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 1)

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.  

UC Essay Prompt 1 is the first of eight essay prompts for the University of California application that you can choose to answer if you are an incoming freshman.

Of the eight Personal Insight Questions, you only need to answer four.

If you consider leadership one of your defining qualities, or have had an interesting experience as a leader in some capacity, you might want to consider this essay. read more…

21 Tips for UC Personal Insight Questions and Essays

personal insight questions

 

Pick the 4 Best UC Personal Insight Questions for YOU!

If you are applying to any of the University of California schools, you need to write four short essays.

To start, read through all eight of the Personal Insight Questions you have to choose from.

The goal is to write four short essays that as a whole will provide the UC admissions deciders with a picture of what makes you unique and special—and help set you apart from the competition. read more…

UC Essay Prompt 8: What Sets You Apart?

prompt 8

University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017
(Ideas for Answering Personal Insight Question No. 8)

8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Out of the eight new University of California essay prompts for Fall 2017, I think that most students should consider writing about Prompt 8 as one of their four required mini-essays.

More than any of the other questions, this prompt targets most directly what makes you YOU, and asks to understand something about your most fundamental qualities, characteristics or values.

It is also the most open-ended of the bunch. read more…

NEW University of California Essay Prompts for Fall 2017!

new university of california essay prompts

First New University of California Essay Prompts
for their College Application in 10 Years!

The University of California just listed brand new college application essay prompts—for the first time in a decade!

In the past, incoming freshman wrote two core essays answering two prompts.

The two essays had to be a total of no more than 1,000 words.

The UC is now calling its new essay prompts, “Personal insight questions,” and students must choose four out of eight to answer.

And they are each supposed to be under 350 words. (So, total under 1,400 words.)

That’s a huge shift. read more…

Watch How Personal College Application Essays Affect the Admissions Game

When I give writing workshops to students on college application essays and what makes them effective, I love to show this short video on YouTube.

It’s just over two minutes long, but in that brief time, I believe many students quickly get a sense of what they need to do to craft essays that will be engaging and memorable.

Take a couple minutes to watch this video, which brings you around a table of college admissions officers at Amherst College, a liberal arts college in Massachusetts, as they sort through applications. read more…

Sample College Application Essays to Inspire You!

sample college application essays

 

This is the time of year when my former students drop me emails letting me know where they have been accepted for the fall.

I love hearing from them, and am emboldened by how many land in their dream schools.

And I usually ask if I can share their essays with future students.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to learn how to write your own than by reading sample college application essays. read more…

How to Write a College Application Essay: In 3 Easy Steps

how to write college application essay

 

After working with thousands of students from all over the world on writing the dreaded college application essay for the last eight years, I’ve finally been able to boil down the process to three simple steps.

Yes, just three steps.

If you follow these steps, I believe you will be able to craft a college application essay that will give you an edge in the admissions game.

How?

Each step makes sure that you share information about yourself that will make your essay effective and help you stand out from the competition. read more…

Warning: 5 Ways to Blow Your College Application Essay

application essay

 

How to Avoid College Application Essay
Booby Traps

No matter where you are with writing your college application essay, you should double check that you are on the right track.

It’s way too easy to inadvertently torpedo your chances of writing an essay that gives you an edge in the admissions game. read more…

College Application Essays and the Admissions Puzzle

college application essay

College Application Essays:
One Piece
Of the Admissions Puzzle

 

This is the time of year many high school juniors start to get serious about their college admissions strategy–including their college application essays.

Some have been all over the admissions game for years. Most are just now shifting into high gear. And a few need to start tuning in.

My focus is on helping students learn to write effective college application essays. But these dreaded essays are only a part of the process. read more…

Common Application Essay Prompts and Strategies for 2016-17

common application essay

Stand Out in Your
Common Application Essay

 

So you are ready to start writing your Common Application Essay?

Congratulations! You have found the best source of specific tips and strategies on exactly how to brainstorm topics for each of the 5 prompts–and learn to craft a powerful college application essay using a narrative (story-telling) style.

Start by reading through the 5 prompts, which I shared below.

(The folks from the Common Application just officially announced their essay writing prompts for this coming college admissions season of 2016-17, and it’s anticlimactic news, but they will be the same as last year. The idea is you know the prompts well before they start accepting applications in August, so you can get a head start on your essays.)

You just need to write a personal statement essay that addresses one of these prompts. The prompts are mainly to inspire you to write a personal essay about yourself that helps you stand out from the crowd. read more…

10 Insider Tips for Your University of Texas Essays

university of texas essays

Former Admissions Counselor
at University of Texas-Austin
Shares Insider Advice

 

Are you planning on applying to any of the 14 University of Texas institutions, including the most popular in Austin, Texas?

(Or Texas A&M, and even some private Texas colleges, such as SMU, TCU, Baylor and Trinity College.)

I’m excited to share some tips from a former college admissions officer at UT-Austin with you. His name is Kevin Martin, founder of TexAdmissions, and he focused these tips on the one of the 3 required essays he believes is by far the most important, based on his experience.

University of Texas essays

Kevin Martin of TexAdmissions

The University of Texas essay is called Topic C, and the prompts asks:

“Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extra-curricular activities might help you achieve your goals.” read more…

Sample Essays: “Fast Doesn’t Always Win”

sample essays

Sample Essays Can Inspire Topic Ideas!

 

In a previous post, I shared a sample essay from my college application essay writing guide, The Writing Survival Kit. Here’s another original sample essay from the same collection.

I believe reading sample essays is not only a great way to learn how to craft a personal, narrative style essay for your college application, but a wonderful source of topic ideas.

read more…

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