Friday, July 1, 2016
Road2College ~ Tutor 's 10 Tips for Staying Sane While Writing College Application Essays
The terrific website, Road2College, invited me to share some tips about writing - and getting ready to write - the college application essays, including taking on the Common App prompts. Here are the first four. Click here to read the rest and get acquainted with this very helpful site, especially as it relates to financial aid.
1. Note the Bad News and the Good News
Sorry to tell you this: The essays are a slog, and if you’re applying to schools with many supplements or several schools not on the Common Application, they can add up to a lot of work. The good news is that doing the work can be a terrific way to focus your experience, your perceptions, your goals, and your sense of yourself as a soon-to-be college student. Finding your voice and your story will help you make that transition. Writing the essays can help you learn how to present yourself, talk about your interests, talents and accomplishments – without sounding as though you’re bragging.
2. Get Personal
I advise students applying to Common Application colleges and universities or to a majority of them to do the Common App essay first. And when you do, find a topic that makes your heart beat a little faster than usual – a topic with some energy and even tension: A piece of your personal story that’s essential to who you are and not reflected in your activities list, a talent, a hardship, a moment you took a risk and spoke out to defend a position, or a problem you solved, even if it was putting together a trampoline in your backyard. Students have not been encouraged to write from a personal perspective for much of high school, and having to do that suddenly for the Common App essay and for many of the supplements can be a real challenge. These are personal essays, not academic papers or speeches.
3. There are no right answers
Students often ask me: What does the school want me to write? It is often a surprise for them to hear that the school wants to know what you think and what your experience is. The essay is a kind of interview. Reveal yourself. Make sure your essays tell what it is you want colleges to know about you: Your passions, your talents, your ambitions, the qualities that make you who you are. No right answers – but do remember to answer the questions/prompts you are asked, whether it’s the Common App prompts or the other possibilities.
4. Make a Master List
Once you are done with your Common App essay, make a master list of what supplementary essays are required for each college: 1. The topic. 2. The length. 3. The due dates. See where you can recycle material. Have a sense in advance how many essays you might have to do – whether it’s 3 or 15 or even 20. Some colleges have 2, 3, 4, or even more essays. Though the essays may only be 100, 250 or 500 words, they must be written with well-considered words. Some of the essays are creative (“What makes you happy?” “What’s the sweetest sound you’ve ever heard?”), others are more straightforward (why this college/why your major). READ THE REST
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