Students Stress Over College App Essays
Because for the First Time They Want to Write
But Realize They Don’t Know How
The New York Times ran an article yesterday called “Why Kids Can’t Write.”
Great piece, but I didn’t agree with the title.
They can write. (Click bait.)
However, as the article chronicled at length, most students have not been taught how to write. The writing experts debated if the problem was at the mechanics end (lack of instruction on writing rules) or the other end with creative writing (lack of opportunity for personal expression through writing.)
I don’t think it’s an either-or issue. (more…)
Who Writes Better College Application Essays:
Boys or Girls?
When I gave one of my summer college application essay writing boot camps this last weekend in my hometown of Laguna Beach, I had 11 boys and one girl.
As the students showed up, I casually mentioned this gender imbalance to the group and one of the boys quipped: “Because boys can’t write.”
I like to think of myself as someone who is gender neutral, and this comment caught me off guard.
My first thought was: That’s hogwash. (more…)
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…)
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. (more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
In One Word: Focus!
I’ve been reading college application essays for the last decade.
I’m probably into the thousands by now.
Looking back, I have identified the most common flaw in many of them.
They are too general.
Which make them borrrrrrringggggg.
Should You Write About a Cliche Topic
for Your College Application Essay?
If you are just starting brainstorming ideas for your college application essays, one of the first pieces of advice you might stumble upon is to avoid “cliche” topics.
I always warn my students about these often over-used topics, which can include:
Death of loved ones
Sports (especially injuries and victories/losses)
Mission trips (volunteering)
Tutoring (especially special needs kids)
Travel (family trips)
RELATED: College Application Essay Topics to Avoid
The main reason to avoid them is that droves of other students have already written about these topics, so they aren’t as effective at helping you differentiate yourself from other applicants.
Can a Risky College Application Essay
Get You Into the Ivies?
This time of year, a flurry of stories hit the national media about students who get into all the Ivy League schools (plus Stanford).
The stories always include scrutiny and speculation about their college application essays.
I have to admit that I’m kind of a sucker for these articles.
There’s such unpredictability with who gets into what schools.
Everyone is looking for clues as to what works and what doesn’t–especially with the essays. (more…)