Do Parents Help or Hurt College Application Essays?

college essay

Helicopter Parents Aren’t All Bad

(They Just Need to Know When to Drop In)

I received an email from a mom recently inquiring about my tutoring services for her college-bound daughter.

In her email, she included a story about their family history that she thought might make a good topic for an essay. It was mainly about the grandfather’s immigration “coming to America” experiences and the Holocaust.

While it sounded interesting, it didn’t seem that relevant or exciting to me–at least for the purposes of an essay that’s supposed to focus mainly on the student.

At the end of her story, the mom ended with this line: “My daughter’s response: ‘I read that if your parents think it is a good idea…it probably isn’t!’ LOL!” (more…)

New Essay Requirements for ApplyTexas and University of Texas for Fall 2018

applytexas prompts

UT Austin Essays Just Got Easier!

If you are applying to be an incoming freshmen to the University of Texas at Austin for Fall 2018, I believe this is a piece of good news for you.

The application essays you need to write have changed from writing three longer essays (Topics A, B, and C) to one long essay (Topic A) and three supplements, which they call “short answers.”

To address Topic A, you need to write one personal statement type of essay about your background for the prompt they call Topic A. There is no stated word length, but a good range is around 500 words.

For the three short answers, you will write no more than 300 words each on Career Plans, Academics and Leadership.

You can read all about the changes and new prompts on the ApplyTexas web site.

Here is the exact prompt for Topic A:

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

Read THIS POST for my advice and writing strategies on how to write about your background (“the environment in which you were raised”) and address this prompt.

Here are the 3 New Short Answer Prompts and Tips
(This is all directly from the ApplyTexas web site)

Short Answer 1: Career Plans

If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path.

Tips to consider: This is an opportunity to describe your academic and future professional interests. You may not yet be 100% certain about what you want to do, but is there a particular field that you think you want to work in, or a certain path you want to pursue after college? How have your interests and experiences influenced your choice of majors or your plans to explore in college?

Short Answer 2: Academics

Do you believe your academic record (transcript information and test scores) provide an accurate representation of you as a student? Why or why not?

Tips to consider: Feel free to address anything you want the Office of Admissions to know about your academic record so that we can consider this information when we review your application. You can discuss your academic work, class rank, GPA, individual course grades, test scores, and/or the classes that you took or the classes that were available to you. You can also describe how special circumstances and/or your school, community, and family environments impacted your high school performance.

Short Answer 3: Leadership

How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?

Tips to consider: Leadership can be demonstrated by positions you hold as an officer in a club or organization, but other types of leadership are important too. Leaders can emerge in various situations at any given time, including outside of the school experience. Please share a brief description of the type of leadership qualities you possess, from school and non-school related experiences, including demonstrations of leadership in your job, your community, or within your family responsibilities, and then share how you hope to demonstrate leadership as a member of our campus community.

GOOD LUCK!

Want to Go To University of Texas? Get This Book!

ticket to forty acres

The Ultimate Insider’s Guide

to UT Admissions

Get it FREE Now on Amazon!

My friend, Kevin Martin, just published this guide, Your Ticket to the Forty Acres: The Unofficial Guide for UT Undergraduate Admissions, on Amazon (Kindle) to help students quickly figure out what they need to do to game the admissions scene at the University of Texas, especially its Austin campus.

What I love about this book is that Kevin was a first-gen student who graduated top of his class, and then went on to to work for their admissions department as a counselor.

So he has experienced both sides of the process. (more…)

Cultural Backgrounds Fuel Standout College App Essays

international students

 

Everyone Has a Cultural Background

Yours Could Make an Awesome
College App Essay Topic!

I love working with students from all over the world.

I’m always surprised, however, how many of these students overlook their rich backgrounds when brainstorming topics for their college application essays.

There have been several reasons for this.

Many international students seem to believe that colleges wouldn’t be interested in their country of birth, and the related customs, food, traditions, etc.

These same students also believe they need to appear “Americanized” in order to be attractive to their target schools in the U.S.

They are wrong and wrong. (more…)

How To Give College Admissions Officials Essays They Want

Colleges Love Your Stories
Especially Those That Seem Almost Ordinary!

 

I’ve read several news articles in recent weeks featuring college admissions officials sharing what they liked about college application essays they read over the last year.

This feedback can be invaluable for students just starting to think about their essays and brainstorming topic ideas.

The admissions staffers at some of the best schools in the nation talked about the types of topics they enjoyed, and why they found them effective in learning more about the student applicants, and connecting with them (and admitting them!).

What the articles didn’t include, however, were ideas on exactly how you can find your own unique topics, and craft them into engaging and meaningful essays.

But don’t despair! (more…)