I’m always on the lookout for new voices in the college admissions industry who try to help students and parents and all of us keep a balanced and sane perspective on the frenzied quest for the perfect college.
Kristin White, an educational consultant who wrote It’s the Student, Not the College: The Secrets of Succeeding at Any School: Without Going Broke or Crazy, does a great job of explaining how a student’s success has little to do with where they get in, even if it’s one of the 20 prestige schools so many believe they must attend or their lives will be ruined.
I asked Kristin if she would share her opinions on how she thinks about the college application essays, and she wrote this guest post on what is behind every great and effective essay—strong writing skills.
As she explains in this piece, strong writing chops can not only help you nail your college admissions essays, they are powerful skills that will help power your college experience as well as your effectiveness in the workplace. (more…)
Get My Latest College Application
Essay Writing Guide
FREE on Mother’s Day on Amazon!
Yup, it’s that simple. I’m celebrating the recent publication of the paperback version of my latest writing guide on Amazon by offering the Kindle ebook version for free on this May 10, which also happens to be Mother’s Day. (a $6.99 value!) Whether you are a college-bound student, or their mom or dad or counselor or teacher, I believe you will find this guide of great help. (more…)
I’m very excited to announce that my new collection of sample college application essays–Heavenly Essays–is now available in paperback on Amazon. You also can buy ebook copies there and on this site as well.
To celebrate–and help spread the word–I’m offering Heavenly Essays: 50 Narrative College Application Essays That Worked, along with my snappy essay writing guide, Escape Essay Hell, for free in exchange for a review. (more…)
I’m Giving Away 100 Copies of My Popular Writing Guide!
10 a Day for 10 Days
Almost every day, I have students tell me they cannot afford to buy my ebook guide on writing college applications essays–Escape Essay Hell!--so I decided to give some away for free. I want as many students as possible to find help writing these dreaded essays, and I understand that ten bucks can be a lot for some people. That’s the main reason I started my blog!
So, starting tomorrow (Thursday, September 19, 2013), I am going to give away 10 copies a day to the first students who send me an email request–and I will send 10 copies a day for a total of 10 days. That means I will be giving away 100 copies total. (more…)
I already featured this list of my favorite books on how to write essays–narrative-style, “slice of life,” personal essays–at the end of an earlier post. These are exactly what you want to write for your college application essays. (Don’t let anyone talk you into writing a stiff, formal academic style essay for your college admissions essay!) I didn’t want you to miss them in case you want to learn more about how to write in this style.
Needless to say, I also believe my own guide on writing college application essays, Escape Essay Hell!, has great advice on writing these essays, because it’s specifically geared toward helping students find unique topics, and then write them using this story-telling style. But I drew many of my ideas from these other guides. When it comes to writing, you can never learn enough. (more…)
College Application Essays
Fun Reads to Inspire your Storytelling Skills
Nothing helps you channel the style and voice of narrative writing than reading it. Writers, like Cupcake Brown, are masters of telling true stories in a fictionalized style. This is what you want to do in your college application essay–tell your stories. As you read any of these recommendations, notice how they bring everyday moments to life using sensory details, strong verbs, scene-setting descriptions and dialogue. Listen to their voices, and see how they write like they talk.
Here are some of my favorites. Most are on the lighter side (except A Piece of Cake and The Glass Castle) so they are also great for the beach, poolside or any lazy summer day:
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.
If you want to write about an adventure, nature or grief.
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
If you want to write about your crazy family.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
If you want to write about a personal flaw (eg., a lisp), dogs, the French, almost anything.
Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl
If you want to write about cooking or following a passion.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
If you want to write about your fears, opinions, romance or pop culture.
Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand
If you want to write about animals, racing, training or gambling.
Drop Dead Healthy, by A.J. Jacobs
If you want to write about health or a personal goal.
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
If you want to write about religion or family pressures.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey
If you want to write about coming of age, feminism or personal hang-ups.
Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
If you want to write about gender, sexuality or a unique town, city or place.
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Erhenrrich
If you want to write about a job, working or life struggle.
If you are interested in some other excellent non-fiction books, here are a few narrative masterpieces that are on the heavier side:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Hiroshima, by John Hersey
The Best and The Brightest, by David Halberstam
The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean
Almost anything by John McPhee, Joan Dideon, Anne Lammott, Tracy Kidder and Tom Wolfe.
If are you ready to tell your story, check out my Jumpstart Guide and posts about how to find a great topic, tell a story and write an anecdote.
For a step-by-step guide to writing a college admissions essay, check out my new ebook, Escape Essay Hell!