by j9robinson | Sep 18, 2013
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…)
by j9robinson | Sep 4, 2013
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…)
by j9robinson | Jul 22, 2013
At our local public high school in Laguna Beach, the English teachers assign juniors to write college application essays at the end of the year.
It’s a great idea.
For many students, this may be the only time they get any guidance on how to write these essays. (more…)
by j9robinson | Jun 9, 2013
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!
by j9robinson | Aug 25, 2010
It’s the end of August and I can feel the tension among parents, and their college-bound seniors, starting to build. It’s great they are thinking about their college essays and future schools. But the rising stress levels can actually harm their ability to find the right school next fall.
I’m no college counselor, but as a parent of a college sophomore and a high school senior, I found a couple of guide books that helped me put the crazy process into perspective.
The first was called “Colleges that Change Lives.” (Click this link to go to their super helpful web site!) The author basically highlighted small liberal arts colleges that were under the radar and all had strong academics, a clear sense of purpose and a friendly student body. He was all about finding the “right fit” for students, as opposed to pushing them into the most prestigious school they could get into or afford.
Another book with a similar theme and balanced sense of mission is called, “You’re Accepted.” (Click this link to view short video of author-and yoga instructor!-Katie Malachuk, talking about the college application “journey.”) It’s about keeping a focus on the “whole-life” and overall “peace of mind” of students, and keeping the process in perspective for the long-run.
A third title, which I haven’t read but comes highly recommended by reasonable parents I know is called, “Harvard Schmarvard.” Again, it’s about finding the right fit for the student instead of worrying about what is the most impressive school to name-drop to your friends.
by j9robinson | May 27, 2010
I have mentioned these titles before, but these are my three favorites:
There are a jillion of these how-to books on the market, and all have helpful things to say. However, the advice in these books is spot-on, and they include helpful sample essays and are inspiring to read. Both are available at Amazon.com and are inexpensive.
Reading sample essays is one of the best ways for students to get ideas for topics for their own essays, as well as get a feel for the more casual style and tone of these pieces. I also believe both authors do a good job of taking some of the pressure off these dreaded assignments. The Harvard collection also includes wonderful analyses at the end of each sample essay.