Ready to write your personal statement essay?
It can be for your Common Application essay, or other university or college prompts, or transfers, or medical or law school, or even scholarship applications.
To start, always read the prompt.
If it asks you to write something fundamental about yourself (such as all seven of the Common App prompts), then they want a personal statement essay from you.
The next step is to start brainstorming. read more…
GET IT FOR FREE FOR LIMITED TIME!
I’m introducing my hot-off-the-press writing guide, “Essay Hell’s 50 Most Commonly Asked Questions about College Application Essays” by giving it away for the next 5 days on Amazon.
I designed this guide for students, parents, teachers and counselors who want quick and easy answers to the questions I have fielded the most during my decade working with these dreaded college application essays.
Not only do I include simple answers for each of the 50 questions, I also include clickable links to related posts from this blog to provide even more in depth explanations, advice and tips. read more…
A Q&A With The Author of the Viral Costco Essay
Last month, Brittany Stinson learned she got into five Ivy League colleges, as well as Stanford and many other top schools.
When a newspaper reporter asked her to share her college application essay, Brittany didn’t think twice.
Within hours, her essay went viral. read more…
Viral Costco Essay Writer Thanks Essay Hell!
Read Brittany Stinson’s College Application Essay
That Landed Her in Four Ivies—plus Stanford!
I can’t resist the news stories that break this time of year announcing students who get into multiple ivy league colleges.
What I find interesting is that these articles tout the student’s college application essay as the reason they got them into these insanely competitive schools.
It’s never that simple. read more…
This is the time of year when my former students drop me emails letting me know where they have been accepted for the fall.
I love hearing from them, and am emboldened by how many land in their dream schools.
And I usually ask if I can share their essays with future students.
In my opinion, there’s no better way to learn how to write your own than by reading sample college application essays. read more…
Sample Essays Can Inspire Topic Ideas!
In a previous post, I shared a sample essay from my college application essay writing guide, The Writing Survival Kit. Here’s another original sample essay from the same collection.
I believe reading sample essays is not only a great way to learn how to craft a personal, narrative style essay for your college application, but a wonderful source of topic ideas.
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.
Here’s one of my favorites: read more…
Prove You Deserve to Win in Your Scholarship Essays
Scholarship essays are critical if you want to go to college, but can’t afford it. To win them, you usually need to write powerful and personal scholarship essays.
(Yes, QuestBridge applicants, this includes you!)
Scholarship essays are similar to the personal essays you write for college applications. They need to give schools (or sponsors) a sense of who you are, what makes you tick and what you value.
Scholarship essays, however, usually need to go one step further. Applicants need to also show and explain why they deserve to win the scholarship. read more…
Colleges Encourage Students to Write About $ and Work
in College Application Essays
The New York Times today published the seven college application essays it liked the best for its contest about writing on the topic of money.
Most of the winners wrote about their experiences facing various types of financial hardship and challenges.
I’m always on the lookout for new voices in the college admissions industry who try to help students and parents and all of us keep a balanced and sane perspective on the frenzied quest for the perfect college.
Kristin White, an educational consultant who wrote It’s the Student, Not the College: The Secrets of Succeeding at Any School: Without Going Broke or Crazy, does a great job of explaining how a student’s success has little to do with where they get in, even if it’s one of the 20 prestige schools so many believe they must attend or their lives will be ruined.
I asked Kristin if she would share her opinions on how she thinks about the college application essays, and she wrote this guest post on what is behind every great and effective essay—strong writing skills.
As she explains in this piece, strong writing chops can not only help you nail your college admissions essays, they are powerful skills that will help power your college experience as well as your effectiveness in the workplace. read more…
Get My Latest College Application
Essay Writing Guide
FREE on Mother’s Day on Amazon!
Yup, it’s that simple. I’m celebrating the recent publication of the paperback version of my latest writing guide on Amazon by offering the Kindle ebook version for free on this May 10, which also happens to be Mother’s Day. (a $6.99 value!) Whether you are a college-bound student, or their mom or dad or counselor or teacher, I believe you will find this guide of great help. 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.
The middle of August is when I first notice a dramatic spike in visitors to Essay Hell. A few students get that early start on their college application essays at the beginning of summer, but the majority seem to wait until now through fall.
I thought I would try to offer some encouragement to any student just diving into the process by extending a hot deal on my guide books. I’m offering all three of my ebook guides for $9.99. Usually they would cost more than double that. (Sorry, this deal doesn’t apply to paperback copies, which only are available on Amazon.) read more…
To help kick off the college admissions “Season,” I’m offering my new collection of inspiring college application essays–Heavenly Essays–for under a buck. Yup, you can download an ebook copy from this blog, and start reading right now, for just 99 cents.
Just enter the Discount Code: 99EssayCollection before you hit “Buy Now.” (Limited offer good through Wed., June 18.) read more…
I thought you might like to read one of the 50 sample college application essays featured in my new book, Heavenly Essays. This is the first one in the book. Like most of the essays in this collection, it was written by a former tutoring student of mine. I will share a few others in the next couple weeks.
Like I say in the book, I believe reading examples of essays written by other students is one of the best ways to learn how to write your own. Not only can these essays give you ideas for your own topics, but you can get a feel for the style that works best—narrative (storytelling) writing. read more…
I’m very excited to announce that my new collection of sample college application essays–Heavenly Essays–is now available in paperback on Amazon. You also can buy ebook copies there and on this site as well.
To celebrate–and help spread the word–I’m offering Heavenly Essays: 50 Narrative College Application Essays That Worked, along with my snappy essay writing guide, Escape Essay Hell, for free in exchange for a review. read more…
At the end of last year, I announced an essay writing contest. My goal was to find some quality examples of narrative writing by real students that I could include in my just-published collection of 50 sample college application essays, called Heavenly Essays.
About a hundred or so students generously submitted their essays, and most were very well-conceived and engaging. It was extremely difficult for me to pick the winners.
What I looked for were students who revealed a part of themselves in their essay by using narrative writing techniques, such as anecdotes, dialogues, descriptive writing, sensory details, an authentic voice, etc. read more…
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. read more…
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. read more…