Teaching How to Write
College Application Essays
Many Language Arts (English) teachers are tasked with teaching high school juniors and seniors how to craft personal essays to use for their college applications.
I believe teachers can find many posts on my blog here to help their students understand the goal of these essays, as well as find narrative writing advice, tips and techniques on how to craft effective personal, “slice-of-life” essays.
When teachers ask me what resources I recommend beyond what I share on my blog, I direct them to my popular writing guide, Escape Essay Hell! because this short, simple and step-by-step guide is perfect to convert into lesson plans. I also point to my collection of sample essays, Heavenly Essays, written by students who followed this approach.
I also believe my online writing course is the perfect companion to these writing guides since it includes 11 short videos that feature the exact steps and activities in Escape Essay Hell!, along with digital versions of all four of my books and handouts with worksheets. (The worksheets include specific topic brainstorming and writing activities, a sample outline and other supporting exercises.)
Helpful Posts in Teaching
How to Write College Application Essays
(ALL Educators are Welcome to Share These Links on their Web sites!)
Find Posts on Specific Narrative Writing Tips, Techniques and Advice(Click Topics Below)
I’m not sure how many high schools require their English teachers to help students write college application essays, but those that do could give their juniors and seniors a huge advantage in the college admissions game.
For many students, an assignment to write one of these essays for English class will be the only outside help they get.
But if a high school decides to have its English teachers include these essays in their curriculum, it’s important to get them right. read more…
To welcome in spring, I’m offering my inspiring collection of sample college application essays free to all teachers now through the end of this month (April).
In recent years, I’ve had English teachers from all over the country contact me about my blog and writing resources. Apparently, many Language Arts programs now teach units on how to write these essays, either in the spring for high school juniors or during fall for seniors. read more…
UPDATE: as of March 23, 2016 The University of California announced NEW essay prompts for 2016-17. Read about how to answer them HERE.
This post is now outdated. The information is no longer relevant!!
Looking for your World to answer the University of California Prompt 1?
A high school English teacher contacted me this week asking if I had any sample essays for the University of California college application Prompt 1.
When my two kids were finishing their junior years of high school, they each received the assignment from their English teacher to write a college application essay.
It sure sounded good—they could get a jump on these dreaded essays and receive professional direction on how to find great topics and write them in an engaging, memorable style.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
From what I could tell, this task of teaching how to write college admissions essays was dumped on these teachers, and they had to cram in a last-minute writing section at the very end of the year (and compete with the AP test crunch time, other end-of-year deadlines/pressures and spring fever.).
Also, as far as I could tell, no one really taught the teachers how to write college admissions essays and students had had very little practice writing in a narrative style. read more…
The Colorful New World of College Application Essay Prompts
But What Does It Really Mean?
University of Chicago: “Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.”
Brandeis University: “If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens, who would you pick? Why?”
University of Virginia: Make a bold prediction about something in the year 2020 that no one else has made a bold prediction about.
Johns Hopkins University: “Using a piece of wire, a Hopkins car window sticker, an egg carton, and any inexpensive hardware store item, create something that would solve a problem. Tell us about your creation, but don’t worry; we won’t require proof that it works!”
Santa Clara University: “Tell us about the most embarrassing moment of your life.”
University of Pennsylvania:
You have just finished your three hundred page autobiography. Please submit page 217.
University of Notre Dame:
You have 150 words. Take a risk.
A distinct pattern is emerging from the new college application prompts trickling out so far this year, and in recent years. Many have taken a promising turn toward the absurd, silly and provocative. What I see, however, are creative writing prompts. These are the exact type of questions English teachers would ask students to practice and sharpen their writing chops. read more…
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. read more…