College Essays

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Learn the basics about writing a college essay from a nationally known education writer and researcher.

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College Essays

  1. 1. College Admissions Essay Writing 101 DEBRA R. BERGER, M.A., M.ED. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  2. 2. Two Points of ViewWhat Parents Say• You need to get started on your essays, dear.• You really need to make time for this.• You said that you would get to them today!• You’ll never finish the essays on time!What Teens Say• What’s the rush?• Going over Dave’s.• I will.• Stop nagging! theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  3. 3. What Is the Personal Statement?An opportunity to tell your “story” and give insights.• The Common Application – commonapp.org• Universal Application - universalcollegeapp.com• School supplements – Do I have to?• Can I buy it off the Internet?• Who reads them?• When are they read? theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  4. 4. What It Does and Doesn’t DoWhat an effective personal statement does:• Show your writing style and English language use.• Demonstrate your analytical thinking.• Give a personal, human element to the app.• Explain an issue: a change in school, improved grades.What the personal statement doesn’t do:• Can’t make up for poor grades, low GPA.• Isn’t a substitute for high SAT or ACT scores.• Not a résumé. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  5. 5. What Admissions Officers SayKelley Walters, Executive Director BU admissions:• Essays can truly be a significant tip factor in our final decisions.Janet Rapelye, Dean of Admissions, Princeton U:• We care most about how students think and what they think about. Tell us something you care about.Richard Nesbitt, Director of Admissions, Williams:• You want to provide personal anecdotes that really show someone who reflects on him or herself. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  6. 6. Types of QuestionsThe You Question:• “Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.”• “Celebrate your nerdy side.”The Creative Question:• “Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.” theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  7. 7. The Positives & NegativesThe You question:• Advantages: An opportunity to “plead your case”, show your “stuff”.• Disadvantages: It’s difficult to talk about yourself. You may sound too distant.The Creative question:• Advantages: Has a focus, can show off your talents.• Disadvantages: Writing without being well informed – get your facts right! theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  8. 8. Third Type of QuestionThe Why Us question:• “Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompts your application? In short: Why Tufts?”• Advantages: Has a focus, you know why you want to go there.• Disadvantages: You might not know the school or the curriculum thoroughly enough. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  9. 9. How to Choose a Topic• Is it about your experiences, passions, interests?• Is it a subject that’s important to you?• Is it a topic that shaped how you think?• Have you narrowed down the topic?• Can you prove it?• Does it show your personality?• Does it reveal your strengths?• Is it memorable? theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  10. 10. From Ordinary to ExtraordinaryEveryday experience• A best friend moves away.• A person you look up to.• A summer job.Making it stand out• Has focus.• Give proof.• Make it fresh, honest.• Show off your talents. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  11. 11. 7 Topics to AvoidAdmissions officers have heard it all before:1. Death2. Divorce3. Sickness4. Disorders5. Sports Injuries6. Family trips7. Boy/girl break ups theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  12. 12. PrewritingThe You essay: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you havetaken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.Brainstorming or Free Association• Write down all possible ideas.• Set a timer – 10 min. or so.• Don’t stop to reread.• Add your strengths.• Ask your parents to try this too. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  13. 13. 10 Tips for a Standout Essay1. Know thyself.2. Don’t reinvent yourself/try to overly impress.3. Brainstorm ideas.4. Focus on a simple idea.5. Start with a great lead sentence.6. Be passionate.7. Organization is key.8. Avoid controversy.9. The conclusion is critical.10. Give the essay the “test of time”. theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!
  14. 14. Contact Debra Berger• Phone: 617-584-5295• Email: Debby@academicsupportlink.com• Website: theacademicsupportlink.com• Find us on Facebook!• Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/editsupportlink theacademicsupportlink.com Find us on Facebook!

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