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: (more…)
First-Gen Students Learn to Write
College Application Essays
Last month, I had the privilege to work with a group of teachers and students on their writing and college application essays from the Rio Grande Valley in the southernmost tip of Texas.
Almost all of the 50-some English teachers and 165 students were Hispanic, and most of the kids will be the first in their families to attend college.
The College Essay Writing Workshop, which is a four-part series of workshops for the most promising students from 30 high schools in the Valley, was sponsored by the Texas Graduate Center, which is an initiative of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation (a non-profit community organization), and the Region One GEAR UP Program, whose mission is to help create a college-bound culture in this part of the U.S.
Earlier in the year, their students toured top colleges and universities around the country, including Harvard, Princeton and other ivies.
During these visits, the admissions officers from the various schools told the sponsors one thing over and over: The college application essay played a huge part in who they accepted, and urged them to help their students write better ones.
So they got in touch with me.
This is me working with a student.
I’d never spent time in that part of Texas, where the Rio Grande river winds up along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It’s been in the news lately, mainly as ground zero in the U.S. for the flood of illegal immigrants, many children, fleeing unrest in Central America, and violence in Mexico due to drug-related activity. (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.) (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. (more…)
Are you starting to think about writing your college application essay?
If so, you need to know what makes a great essay to know how to start brainstorming and writing your own.
You can often recognize a “great one” when you read or hear it—but it’s more difficult to explain what exactly made it that way.
Here’s my attempt to list the features that comprise a great college application essay.
Unlike other essays, these have a very specific goal that you must always factor in when you write a great one: To help your college application land in the “Yes!” pile.
Many of the elements of an effective college admissions essay further that goal.
A GRRRREATTT college application essay:
1. “Grabs” the readers at the start. I believe one of the best ways to do this is to start with an anecdote (real-life incident). Something happens.
2. Usually is written in a narrative (story-telling/memoir-like/slice-of-life) style drawing off real-life experiences.
3. Reveals a specific core or “defining” quality (creative, resourceful, fierce, resilient, driven, etc.) about the writer, rather than trying to describe many qualities. This is how to focus the essay. (more…)
Many students have trouble finding their “voice” while writing college application essays.
One of the biggest problems I see is that students want to sound smart and impressive, and they often lose their natural story-telling voice by forcing in big words and long, formal sentences.
Most students understand the narrative voice when they read it, but have a hard time capturing their own.
I always advise students to “write like they talk,” but this can be hard to do.
Here’s a technique I use to help them capture their natural language to use in their essays.
This is hard to do alone, but if you can rope someone else into helping you—a friend, teacher, college counselor, tutor, parent, etc.—it can be so helpful. (more…)
The University of California CHANGED its essay prompts for 2016-17.
Learn about the all-new requirements by clicking HERE!
THIS POST IS OUTDATED!
How to Describe a Place
in a College App Essay
If you are applying to the University of California, you need to write two college application essays.
I wrote about how to Describe the World You Come From three years ago, explaining how to think about the first prompt and brainstorm ideas for your essay.
It would help you to read that advice first, then come back.
This time, I want to give you some ideas on how to SHOW the world you decide to write about when describing the setting of your world.
Since in the UC essay your world will be some type of community, I believe you might need to describe where you experienced it. In writing, that’s called the setting.
If you want a powerful essay, you will use descriptive language, sensory details and specific examples to help us see your world. (more…)