Monday, December 21, 2015

Best & Worst College App Essay Prompts 2015-16

As college application essay writing season comes to a close, I do my mini version of a year-end list: my favorite college app essay prompts and supplements - and my one least favorite - on Huffington Post's College Page. Here's the opening.

"As the college application essay writing season draws to a close, with only a short time left before most regular applications are due, I'm looking back on some of the most interesting -- and most annoying -- essays prompts I've seen this year.
"I'm also taking a moment to marvel at how revealing the essay prompts are about what kind of students the colleges are looking for when they devise the questions that help them distinguish between tens of thousands of applicants. Precisely because there are so many hugely accomplished, talented students, and because the Common Application has devoted itself to making it easy to apply (and increasing its own coffers in the process, let's not forget), the essays are one of the tools used by the schools to make distinctions. And the essay questions, which vary enormously from institution to institution, tell us some of what each institution values in its applicants.
"The University of Chicago's famously demanding, quirky prompts are there to help them select the kind of students who would thrive in this highly cerebral atmosphere. By the same token, the essay prompts are information for the applicants, too. If you're not comfortable writing an essay inspired by this prompt: "Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location or occupation, and tell us their story," it's a safe bet that this isn't the right university for you. I frequently have clients who are eager to apply there, until they read the prompts. READ MORE
For help with college app essays, personal statements, and supplements, please shoot me at email: Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

College Application Essays & Supplements Over Winter Holidays? Top Coach Can Help

The last week has been a nail-biter for college applicants and their families as Harvard, Brown, Stanford, Duke, NYU, and many other colleges have sent out notices about Early Decision and Restricted Early Action.

As always, there's a lot of joy - and plenty of disappointment. One trend that doesn't quit is deferrals. People who've counted on the stress lifting by applying Early Decision are learning that the stress will continue, and they will have to send in a new batch of applications for January 1st deadlines.

If you've been deferred or rejected by your Early Decision or Early Action choices, you're scrambling to write more essays, and you need another pair of eyes, a sounding board, a gentle guide through the system, please contact me for a free consult to find out what you might need and how I might be able to help you in the next two weeks.

These are two new emails from students I've worked with this fall:

"I just wanted to let you know that I got into Tufts! I'm very excited and wanted to thank you for everything and all you did for me these past few months!"  ~ RC, New Jersey

"I honestly couldn't have done it without you, Liz. It's been a joy to work with you."  ~ O.P. Early Decision, Northwestern

Email me at Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com or call 1-855-99-ESSAY.

To read more about my work, please visit my website, Don't Sweat the Essay.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Expert Wordsmith on Words You Probably Don't Need

Are you writing college application essays, editing them, proofreading them?  Benjamin Dreyer, champion tweeter and Random House's managing editor, has this wonderful advice:



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Learn to Play the College App Essay Game: 10 Simple Tips

Stay sane (maybe!) while writing college application essays & personal statements - for Huffington Post.

David Letterman's top ten lists will never lose their appeal. It's as though all the wisdom on any subject can be contained in these simple, breezy lines -- and who knows, maybe they can be. These are general guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Not every applicant will be able to do these in this order and some may be more relevant than others.

1. No magic bullet. There's no getting around it. The essays are a slog, and if you're applying to schools with many supplements or several schools not on the Common Application, it's a lot of work. But -- the good news! -- doing the work is a way to focus your experience, your perceptions, your goals, and your sense of yourself as a soon-to-be college student, especially during interviews. Finding your voice and your story will help you make that transition.



2. Ask for help -- from people and online. Writers (and doctors and engineers and parents) ask for help all the time. Just because writing is a solitary activity doesn't mean you shouldn't seek advice and reactions from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends, parents, or the abundant information online. Ask for help brainstorming. Read online posts about how to tackle various questions. Check out college app essays that are posted, but don't be discouraged by them. You're looking at final drafts, not early drafts. Ask for help from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends who are writers or educators -- and/or your parents. And be prepared to rewrite. And rewrite.
3. There are no right answers. Students often say: What does the school want me to write? The school wants to know what you think and what your experience is. The essay is a kind of interview. Reveal yourself. Make sure you essay tells us what it is that you want the colleges to know about you: Your passions, your talents, your ambitions, the qualities that make you who you are.  READ 7 MORE TIPS

To visit my website, click here:  To send me an email: Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Famous U of Chicago Application Essay Prompts Out (Supps to Common App)

For my latest blog post, you can always click right here

A young friend of mine, and a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, calls it "the school for people who like school." It's a serious place full of serious people, and it's famous (or infamous?) for the eccentricity of the supplementary application essays. The questions change every year, and they often use prompts submitted by students. It's part of the fun - if it's your idea of fun - of applying there and being part of this hyper engaged community.

With that in mind, I present this coming year's essays. I think they're the most interesting ones I've seen from Chicago, and, in honor of the university's 125th anniversary, for #7, they're offering a really special option: to write an essay on any one of the past year's prompts, which they provide a link to.

U. Chicago is a Common App school, so you will need to submit a total of either 3 or 4 essays: 1. The Common App essay 2. Question 1, which is Required  3. Question 2 (optional, but if you're serious about the place, Just do it) and 4. The Famous other essay, with a choice of 7 prompts this year. 

There are no precise word limits for the essays specific to Chicago (for the Common App, it's 650 words, firm), but the University's FAQ suggests 500 words as just about right. For other useful application info from Chicago, please click here for their fabulous FAQ.

If these essay topics thrill you and you can't wait to get going on them, UChicago might be a great place for you. If they make you want to run in dread, terror, or boredom, take that as a sign that UChicago might not be the right university for you - and keep looking. You'll find others, for sure. 


Question 1 (Required):

How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Question 2 (Optional):

Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own.

Extended Essay Questions:

(Required; Choose one)

Essay Option 1.

Orange is the new black, fifty’s the new thirty, comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll, ____ is the new ____. What’s in, what’s out, and why is it being replaced?
—Inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015

Essay Option 2.

“I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” –Maxine Hong Kingston. What paradoxes do you live with?
—Inspired by Danna Shen, Class of 2019

Essay Option 3.

Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story.
—Inspired by Drew Donaldson, Class of 2016

Essay Option 4.

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” –Paul Gauguin. What is your “art”? Is it plagiarism or revolution?
—Inspired by Kaitlyn Shen, Class of 2018.

Essay Option 5.

Rerhceseras say it’s siltl plisbsoe to raed txet wtih olny the frist and lsat ltteres in palce. This is beaucse the hamun mnid can fnid oderr in dorsdier. Give us your best example of finding order in disorder. (For your reader’s sake, please use full sentences with conventional spelling).
—Also inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015. Payton is extra-inspirational this year!

Essay Option 6.

In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

Essay Option 7.

In the spirit of historically adventurous inquiry, to celebrate the University of Chicago’s 125th anniversary, please feel free to select from any of our past essay questions.

https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/apply/essay/past-essay-questions

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Are You Doing This Summer (College App Essays? Common App Essay?)

Call for free Common App - College App essay consult: If you've ended up here, I bet you've got ambitions to do some of your application essays this summer. I'm hoping you might also have some fun and games in the works (see below: multiple choice). If you might need some help, call for a consult, shoot me an email and visit my website: Don't Sweat the Essay. I'm already working with students from New York to New Delhi, in person and on Skype. I'll be on Martha's Vineyard for 3 weeks in July. 1-855-99-ESSAY. Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com  Thanks for taking a look.





Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Testimonial

I was very moved to just receive this new testimonial from a high school student I worked with this past season:

"I started my college applications (particularly the essays) very late. There was no real reason other than procrastination. My hopes for reaching the Ivy League soon became hopes for simply getting into college. However, with the little faith I had left, I browsed Google for useful college application resources/mentors, and I found Liz's website; I remember reading the amazing testimonials for her services, and yelling to my mom, "Mom, we NEED to call this lady!" I was initially concerned she wouldn't even have the time and availability to help me so late into the year, so upon hearing she would welcome me as her student, I was shocked. Over the next two months, she guided me throughout not just the essay-writing process, but my entire college application process, providing me invaluable information with her wide range of college-related experiences. From helping me transcribe my creative voice onto paper to helping me write my resumé, Liz taught me things that will last into college and beyond. Thank you so much, Liz. Writing this testimonial is an honor, and I hope mine will inspire others as your previous testimonials have inspired me."
-C.Z, Emory University & Cornell University 

Thank you, C.Z., it was a pleasure working with you. 

Please shoot me an email or call me for information about college application essay support: Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com  1-855-99-ESSAY. 

And visit my website for more information: Don't Sweat the Essay.

Thanks!