Monday, September 22, 2014

College App Essays Run Amok: A Coach's Advice & a Word About Spiders

My latest thoughts on Huffington Post - some practical advice, a little history, and a little kvetching - about where we are in college application essay land this fall: 
"I know, I'm a coach. I'm supposed to do the coach thing: cheerlead, encourage, help high school students brainstorm, find great essay topics and figure out what about their interests, experiences and passions would work best on the page. In other words, help them stand out in the piles of dazzling applicants to the highly competitive University of Fill in the Blank.
"This is what I do 99 percent of the time. But there are some days and weeks when I encounter articles and trends that make me cynical about what's expected of students, what's expected of parents and where we as a country are headed. Last week was one of those weeks.
"While most of my time was spent answering questions about which prompt might work best to discuss a life-changing experience living in the woods for three months, or how to do the research to tell a college why it's your first choice, I encountered a number of disturbing news items that gave me pause about the extreme nature of the game that college admissions has become. READ MORE 
For a consultation, please contact me: or 1-855-99-ESSAY. Visit my website: Don't Sweat the Essay. And please repost this if you wish.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Missing Supplements-Yes, There ARE Essays!

Thanks to consultant Jeannie Borin for her very useful information about this year's Common Application.  Among her two most salient pieces of information are these: 

When you look for the essay supplements for many schools on the Common App, you may not easily find them, but they are often there under the drop down menu under the "questions" tab.  And: you may only submit three different versions of your Common App essay. In order to make changes, you must "unlock" your application. As she says, "You cannot make any changes to an essay once it is submitted."  Here's more! 

• "The most confusing change this year is that although many colleges look like they don't have a writing supplement on the College Tab, they do! That writing supplement can now be found under that college's drop down menu under the questions tab. It is essential to comb the application thoroughly and look at every drop down menu, as some essay prompts may be more difficult to find. This could be overlooked if students are not aware."

• "The essay can be revised twice for no more than three revisions. This is a crucial point and one that often gets missed by students. In order to make changes to an essay after you submit an application to a college, students will need to unlock their applications. Students cannot make any changes to an essay once it is submitted to a college. You can unlock again up to a maximum of three revisions. Any remaining colleges would receive your last essay version." READ MORE

Need help with your college application essays? Common App, supplements, state university personal statements. Please send me an email or call me:  or 1-855-99-ESSAY.  And visit my website: Don't Sweat the Essay.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Step 1- Common App - Let the Popcorn Fly

When you start writing your college application essays, don't censor yourself. Choose a topic that really interests you, make a loose outline (a 4 or 5 paragraph essay), and then just write, so you can find out what your material is without inhibition. Think of it as making popcorn without a lid. Once the material is down on the screen/page, look for the best stuff - the smartest points, the best writing, the most revealing insights - and start to edit - AKA cleaning up the popcorn. Expect to do three or four drafts. Check back later this week for more tips. UPDATE: Here's a revised post about the Common App prompts that I promised. Hope it's useful.

Which colleges have done most to support low-income students?

A breakdown of which colleges have made the most serious efforts to make admission possible for low and lower-income students .... Worth reading this Times article and studying the numbers...

"Over the last decade, dozens of colleges have proclaimed that recruiting a more economically diverse student body was a top priority. Many of those colleges have not matched their words with actions. But some have.

"These colleges have changed policies and made compromises elsewhere to recruit the kind of talented poor students who have traditionally excelled in high school but not gone to top colleges. A surprising number of such students never graduate from any college.

"This education gap is a problem not only for the teenagers on the wrong end of it. It’s a problem for the American economy. The economic differences between college graduates and everyone else have reached record levels. Yet for many low-income children – even many who get A’s in high school and do well on the SAT – college remains out of reach. No wonder that upward mobility is less common in the United States than in many other rich countries.  READ MORE

Need help with your college application essays? Common App, supplements, state university personal statements. Please send me an email or call me:  or 1-855-99-ESSAY.  And visit my website: Don't Sweat the Essay.