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. (more…)
The Best Way to Learn to Write Your Own
In my writing guide, The Writing Survival Kit, I share some excellent sample essays for college applications. In this post and future ones, I’m sharing some of them with you.
Whether you are just starting to brainstorm a topic for your own essay, or already are working on a draft, reading what other students have written can spark ideas and provide inspiration for your own pieces.
Last week, a new student came to my home for help on his college application essays.
I asked this eager senior about his target schools. He told me Stanford was his top pick, but he was applying to most of the ivies, along with a couple UCs (Cal and UCLA).
Then he handed me a printout of his essay. It was one he had written for his English teacher at our local high school.
It was about a mission trip. To a South American country. And he wrote how he loved working with the kids, and how he realized how privileged he was, and how he hoped to make a difference in the world.
When writing narrative-style college application essays, I advise students to start by sharing a real-life story that illustrates one of their defining qualities or characteristics.
All stories contain some type of problem. It’s just the universal nature of all stories—there’s a conflict of some type. I call these problems.
Once a student shares a real-life story with a problem (either big or small), they are poised to explain how they dealt with it.
Then comes the most important part: What they learned in the process.
This analysis, reflection or questioning is the most important part of an effective college application essay. Why? Because this is where a student can show colleges how they think, what they care about and what they value.
For more than 20 years, the magazine Vanity Fair has collected provocative and memorable details from the most famous people on the planet using their version of what is called the Proust Questionnaire.
The famous French writer didn’t actually pen these questions—although he did answer the questions twice in his life—but they were used in 19th century Parisian salons to entertain the bourgeois. It was one of the first personality tests. (more…)
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. (more…)
As a professional writing coach, I help students, parents, counselors, teachers and others from around the world on these dreaded essays!
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