Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grieve, Grumble & Get Up~And Start Writing More College App Essays

This is a big week - a gigantic week - for tens of thousands of early action and early decision applicants from around the globe. Whether it's you or your child who is about to hear Yes, No, or Maybe from a first-choice school, please take a look at my advice on my latest Huff Po piece, "Grieve, Grumble and Get Up: Time for More College App Essays."  Here are a few excerpts and links to the whole piece. 

"Those clever folks at MIT have made something of a numbers joke about when early action admissions decisions will be announced: this coming Saturday, at 3:16 P.M. What? When you write it in numerals, it looks like this: 12/13/14 15:16. But the news will not be fun or funny for the great majority of those who receive it, since MIT's early action admit rate is a bit under 10 percent -- and overall, it's 7.9 percent. (For those who want a thorough, MIT-style breakdown of numbers for the class entering in 2014, click here.)

"The next few days -- with many schools announcing on Dec. 15 and Yale, to my knowledge, on December 16 -- will be exciting, fraught, gleeful, and agonizing for tens of thousands of young men and women across the globe, from Alaska to Zanzibar. As the news comes in, dreams will feel realized and disappointments will pile up.

"What to do with all of this high emotion? Here are some thoughts for parents, students, and family members.

"If the answer is YES from a first-choice school, parents and children should talk about when and how to announce it to others, either personally or on social media. Understand that most people will be happy for you, and that some might well feel more envy than shared joy. Be prepared. In your announcements, consider expressing an attitude of gratitude, not entitlement or triumph.
"If the answer is YES from a first-choice school, think long and hard about whether you need to make further applications to other schools. If financial aid is a major consideration, and you can anticipate a better offer, that's important, but if you're merely applying elsewhere to see how you do, take a moment to decide whether that's necessary, given that other students might really want that additional school, or those additional schools, as their first-choice. Of course, there are wait-lists, but they push decision-making to the limits for everyone involved. Short version: Celebrate your success and let others have theirs." READ MORE

Friday, December 5, 2014

45 Ways to Avoid "Very" in Your Common App & College App Essays

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As you put finishing touches on your college application essays - the Common Application and the supplements - comb them for uses of the word "very" and then study this terrific list.

Very? What's wrong with the word "very"? Doesn't it strengthen the word it modifies? Well, actually, no. Today on, I stumbled upon a wonderful list of words to replace the word "very." Instead of saying "very tired," substitute "exhausted." Instead of "very big," "immense," instead of "very bright," "dazzling," and instead of "very thin," try "gaunt."

Read your essays one more time to make sure the language is as colorful, precise, and powerful as it can be. This list might well help you when it comes to "very" and every other word. 

Here's a chart with the whole list, and here's the rationale from the Stumbled Upon Introduction: 

"Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." ~Mark Twain
"'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen." ~Florence King
"So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays." ~N.H. Kleinbaum

 Click here to see the full list of 45 words.

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