UPDATE: as of March 23, 2016
The University of California announced NEW essay prompts for 2016-17.
Read about how to answer them HERE.
It’s Not Too Late to Write Your College App Essays
Before the Nov. 30 Deadline
Yes, you have waited until the last minute. But don’t despair!
There’s still time to pound out two awesome essays!
If you’re working on your two college application essays for the University of California freshman application, I’ve put together a short list of my most helpful posts.
Read through them, watch the videos, and get crankin!!
Prompt 1: Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. (more…)
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.
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This post is now outdated.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.
She was using my guides and Essay Hell blog posts to help teach her students how to write their college application essays. (more…)
The University of California
CHANGED its prompts
for transfer students
this year (2106)!
Read Strategies for the New University of California
Transfer Essays for the updated information on the new prompts.
CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED POST
ON NEW UC TRANSFER ESSAYS!
(OUTDATED!!) Why You Chose Your Major: A Love Story
If you want to transfer into any of the University of California schools (UCLA, Berkeley, UCI, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, etc.), you need to write two college application essays. One is the same prompt that all students are required to write—which basically asks for a personal statement style essay. It’s known as Prompt 2, and I wrote “Personal Quality, Talent, Achievement…” as a guide on how to write this essay in a narrative style.
Now I want to offer some ideas on how to answer the second prompt required for transfer students:
Transfer Student Prompt 1: What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field — such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities — and what you have gained from your involvement. (more…)
I confess: I love anecdotes.
These are basically when a writer shares a mini-story about a real-life moment or experience.
Usually, they are plucked out of the past, and presented without much introduction.
Their power is that they draw you into a story, or college application essay, by starting with a punch of drama.
Anecdotes make awesome introductions.
The key is to get as close to the action as possible.
I’ve written tips and advice on how to write anecdotes, but thought I would try to model an example.
They seem so simple when you read them, but they are harder than you might think to craft.
The trick is to practice, and study how other anecdotes are put together.
The most common place to find them is at the start of longer newspaper pieces or magazine stories, or of course, personal (narrative) essays. (more…)
If you have already written your college application essays, and either know where you are headed this fall or are still waiting, why not enter them into some contests? Why the heck not? Some offer some decent cashola prizes.
Here’s the best one I found that looks like it’s worth the time it takes to send them in!
Extra Credit: Scholarships for Exceptional Student Writing. This contest will awards $5,000 to the three top winners! You can use essays you already submitted to colleges. The judge panel is amazing, including famous writers, such as Jeff Kinney (wrote Diary of a Wimpy Kid!), Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone), Kelly Corrigan, Mary Roach (Stiff, about cadavers) and Anna Quindlen (famous New York Times columnist). It would be an honor just to have these brilliant writers read your work!
The winter flurry of letters is landing in mail boxes around the globe this time of year. I just heard from three ecstatic students who learned last week they were accepted into their dream schools–one was Harvard, another Wellesley, and a third Middlebury. I felt excited and proud for them. But I will feel equally excited for my students who will soon learn they will be attending schools in our University of California system, whether it’s Berkeley, UCI or Santa Cruz, or other state universities such as UW, Boulder and U. of O, and especially those getting into the small liberal arts colleges no one has ever heard of, but are true gems.
And I also can’t help think about those who are getting those awful cryptic rejections in the mail at the same time. They can really sting.
But if you are still waiting to learn where you will be attending college (or are still working on your college application and essays), just know that you will land in the place that is right for you. It may not be that dream school, or the one you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about getting into. But chances are you will attend a school that you will end up absolutely loving. It’s all about finding the right match–kind of like shoes, if they don’t fit right, they will hurt your feet. (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. (more…)
College Application Essays
How to Write An Anecdote About Almost Anything
Before one of my college application essay writing workshops yesterday, I skimmed over some of the rough drafts the students had written last semester for their English classes.
The writing was solid, the ideas strong.
Yet the essays were all on the dull side.
If only someone had taught these kids how to use anecdotes, I thought.
They are the ultimate writing technique for Showing (an example) rather than Telling (explaining) about a point you want to make.
Nothing powers a college application essay like an engaging anecdote in the introduction.
Often, you can pull an anecdote ( a mini true story) out of what you’ve already written and instantly transform it into an engaging read. And it can be a very everyday, simple event or moment. (more…)
One of the best ways to connect with your reader in your college application essay is through emotion.
In my new book, Escape Essay Hell!, I share writing techniques and devices you can use to bring pathos to your essay, and forge a bond with your reader.
(With my following suggestions, I’m assuming you already have an introduction—probably an anecdote or mini-story—for your narrative essay, and have moved on to explain what it meant to you.) (more…)