Go Deep to Reveal Your Intellectual Vitality!
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.
Once a student shares a real-life story with a problem (either big or small), they can go on to explain how they handled 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 Bad Writers
Write the Best
College Application Essays
If you think you can’t write, and you need to write a college application essay, this is your lucky day. There’s a higher-than-average chance you will write an awesome essay.
(If you think you can write, there’s still hope for you, too. But you might have more work to do.)
Let me start by asking you why you’re so sure that you can’t write, at least not well.
Is it because you got average to low grades in English class? Or even flunked out. (more…)
ONE College Application Essay
for The Common App
The Common Application comes out officially August 1. But they already announced the changes for this coming 2015-16 season.
The most important were changes to the five essay prompts. (You can write your main Common App essay about one of the five.)
Beside the prompts, there were two other significant tweaks you should know about: (more…)
The folks at The Common Application added a new prompt this year and I love it.
It asks you to write about a problem.
What’s so great about a problem?
Problems = Stories = Great Essays! (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. (more…)
My friend, Lynn O’Shaughnessy, who is a national expert on helping families afford higher education, interviewed me recently about how to write standout college application essays. If you are struggling to figure out how to pay for your college or university, Lynn has the best insider information and resources, including her best-selling book and popular online courses.
I believe one thing that many students and parents don’t realize is that a strong essay not only can help you get into a competitive school, but it can also help you score merit scholarship money. This isn’t true for all schools, especially large universities, but many liberal arts colleges use the essays to determine who they want at their school and then work to help them afford it—including offering money. (more…)
This hilarious video is making the rounds on the Internet (my niece’s husband shared it with me on Facebook) just in time for many college application essay deadlines.
It’s funny because the outrageous statements made by students are painfully true.
A couple of my favorite lines: “I’m trying to hide the fact that I’m a privileged white person.” and “If this wasn’t a college essay, it would be considered way over-sharing.”
Another favorite was: “I’m using words I literally just learned a minute ago on Thesaurus.com.” (more…)
Big changes in the new SAT test announced recently caused quite a stir, especially that they were dropping the essay component. I was most excited, however, that they also were going to stop emphasizing “obscure” vocabulary words.
Not only do I think it’s ridiculous to force students to memorize lists of long words no one uses, but I think it’s a huge waste of precious class and homework time.
After years of working with students on their college application essays, I have seen how the emphasis in English classes on these obscure words oozed into students’ writing–and made it pedantic (look it up. haha.) and dull. Most think they sounded smarter when they use words like “deleterious” and “cacophony” in their essays. (more…)
College Application Essays
Humility Goes a Long Way
Many of the students I work with are from privileged backgrounds. (Hey, it’s expensive to hire a tutor!)
They live in affluent communities, go on extravagant vacations and enjoy pricey hobbies and activities.
There’s nothing wrong with being privileged (a humble way of saying wealthy or rich).
But when you are writing about yourself in your college application essay, and want to come across as well-adjusted and likable, it helps to know if you are.
That way, you can make sure you don’t include topics, or comments, in your essays that might imply that you are spoiled, snobby, materialistic or entitled (think that you deserve more than others). (more…)
Everyone is looking for that magic topic for their college application essay that will help them jump out from the essay pile, and shout, “Yes, that’s me!”
I’ve written a lot about how you can go about landing on that unique topic.
Here’s one way to see if you have found it or not.
In my mind, you want to be the student who writes an essay that captures something original, unexpected or poignant about yourself, which an admissions officer would then use to dub you with a related phrase.
What does that mean? (more…)