Why the College Essay is So Important

Do you understand the power of literally grabbing the attention of an admissions reader? On average, an admissions officer may spend 4-7 minutes reading your child’s application.

Yikes!

Hence why the personal essay as well as the supplemental essays are so critical.

Any good parent lives to help their child to succeed, and in this college application season, you may need to help your child to brainstorm a topic. Their creative juices need to start churning and you may be able to help them. Trust me, opening lines matter

Here are some of my favorite opening lines from our kids in the past:

“Getting kicked in the mouth is not fun.  Especially when receiving the kick from a...

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Is your child ready to start their college essay? (Part 4)

PARENTS!!!! READ THIS WITH YOUR RISING SENIOR!!!!

Use the rules below and you’re on your way!!!!

 

Develop the essay into three parts:

Introduction: One paragraph that introduces your essay.  Start with a catchy first sentence. If it grabs the reader’s attention, he or she will be encouraged to read on. You might use a meaningful quote or start with a rhetorical question that fits your situation.  You might open with a detailed description of the setting of an important experience you've had so that readers feel they were really there.  You might start with a mystery that will be revealed later in the essay or double-entendre.  If you are experiencing...

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Is your child ready to start their college essay? (Part 3)

PARENTS!!!! READ THIS WITH YOUR RISING SENIOR!!!!

Use the rules below and you’re on your way!!!!

  1. Start Early

Starting early buys you the luxury of revising and rewriting the essay. You can write it, put it away for a few days, then take a fresh look at it later. Walking away and then coming back brings a fresh perspective to the work -- without the pressure and stress that comes with a time crunch. 

  1. Brainstorm.

Starting the essay can be the hardest part.  Brainstorming about your personality traits and defining your strengths is a good place to begin.  Your goal is to reflect about who you are as a person.  Don’t think of it as bragging.  Think about it...

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Is your child ready to start their college essay? (Part 2)

PARENTS!!!! READ THIS WITH YOUR RISING SENIOR!!!!

Use the rules below and you’re on your way!!!!

Be specific.  Keep your focus narrow and personal by figuring out how the question relates to your personal qualities and then taking a specific angle. Make sure everything you write supports that viewpoint. But don’t adopt a preachy tone. College admission officers don’t want to be lectured on rainforest destruction. Instead, tell them how you became interested in environmentalism.

Use the active voice. This is a challenge for all writers. As a matter of style, writing in an active voice energizes an essay. Avoid the passive voice. Word processing programs often provide assistance...

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3 Keys to Writing an Awesome College Essay (Part 1)

I have been teaching essay writing for twenty years and before I get too deep, I want you and your child to know the basics first. The personal statement should reveal something important about them that their grades and test scores cannot. Try to help your child to answer these two essential questions:

#1: Who are you? 

#2: What’s important to you? 

This is not easy and it’s not necessarily fun. Teenagers struggle with identity and sharing parts of their lives. They need help. 

PLEASE share the blog below with our child. It’s written to them. 

STEP 1: Be yourself.  You are 1 of 1. Write in your own voice.  Write what you feel, not what you think the...

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Why English Teachers Are Not College Essay Experts

Hard truth: college essays and “school essays” are very different. High school students are taught to write essays with a thesis, body paragraphs to prove their points and a conclusion which revisits the thesis in summary. This is not what a college essay should look like. 

A college essay is a story. It’s a slice of your kid’s life when they share something important about who they are. It’s not an autobiography of their 17 or 18 years of life but rather a small sample of an event on which they learned something that they believe will travel with them forever. 

Not all English teachers know this. 

Most English teachers have never worked in college...

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When Writing a College Essay, Document, Don't Create

Writing a college essay is hard. Very few students go into the writing process “pumped” to sit in front of a computer to tell a story. It's part laborious, oftentimes frustrating and occasionally embarrassing. The most common thing I hear is “I don't know what to write!” and then it becomes my job to help the student to brainstorm and believe in the idea that we have thought of together. 

Know what's far easier? Documenting life. Instead of trying to devise some cleverly creative epiphany that they think will change the landscape of college admissions and help them get into the college of their dreams, students should simply share what has happened in their lives or what...

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Should I Write My Common Application Essay Now?"

Yes, the common application essay questions are available at commonapp.org, and you can brainstorm what they are, bounce off ideas from your friends or family, but you don't need to really write them right now.

It's February, and with so much time left for you to grow and decide on what you want to write, I'm not quite sure that you're ready.

Take your time. Do your academic work, talk to your teachers about who's going to write your recommendation and, obviously, plan out your testing. The essay process will have its time. Trust me.

So right now, do not work on your essay. Just do what you're supposed to be doing. If you want more advice, we're at StrategicAdmissionsAdvice.com and Strategic...

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