Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tough Questions for a College Application Essay Counselor - Coach

Karen Berlin Ishii, who writes often for the and whose tutoring and SAT prep firm works with students all over the world, picked my brain the other day - and asked me some tough questions about the college application essay. Here are the first two. Click here to read the rest. 
Q: College admissions officers are said to be tired of "community service" trip essays. What's your advice to students who want to write about their moving – though perhaps commonplace – experience?
A: It’s important to understand why admissions people feel this way about this topic, as well as the sports victory or the death of a grandparent themes. It’s not because they aren't meaningful, but as material for the essay, they are very predictable. Admissions folks say that once such an essay begins, it's pretty clear where it’s going to end. It might be better to save this topic for one of the shorter essays, as many colleges ask you to write briefly about a job or extracurricular event.
Q: Similarly, what if "the big football game" really is a student's most compelling topic? How can students write about a cliché experience in a refreshing, engaging way?
A: The problem is predictability. The Common Application prompts are so varied and so probing, I just bet that if a student goes carefully through these prompts, alone or with an adult, he or she will find another subject. If the “big football game” was the most compelling subject, look for the second most compelling subject, and use the football experience, if necessary, in one of the shorter essays.  READ MORE 
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