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4 college essay copy

  1. 1. The College Essay
  2. 2. How Important Is It? A 2006 report found that while grades, admission tests, and class rank remain the top factors in the college admission decision, a majority of colleges and universities consider the essay to be a key factor in determining which academically qualified students they would choose. In other words, when all else is equal between competing applicants, a compelling essay can make the difference. A powerful, well-written essay can also tip the balance for a marginal applicant. College admission officers look to the essay for evidence that a student can write well and support her ideas with logical arguments. They also want to know something about the personality of the student.
  3. 3. Example: "UV values a diverse student body. What contributions might you make to our campus community outside of academic achievement?" Positive: This type offers you a chance to reveal something about yourself other than grades and test scores. Danger: The open-ended nature of these questions can lead to an essay that's all over the place. Some tips: •Focus on just a few things and avoid the urge to "spill everything" •develop one small SPECIFIC event, person, place, or feeling with a lot of narrative and specifics •Do not to simply write out your resume in paragraph form •This is "tell us a story" question. You should tell a story that only you can The “You” Prompt
  4. 4. Example: "How did you become interested in American University?" Positive: This provides a focus for the essay; that is, why you chose this particular school or path—and the answer to that will (hopefully) be clear. Danger: Any factual errors in the essay will reveal that you really haven't thought deeply about your choice. Some tips: •Make absolutely sure you know their subject well. •Do not to go overboard with flattery. Sound sincere but not ingratiating. •An upside to this type of question is that, while working on the essay, you might realize that you are not a match for the college— and it's better to know that sooner than later The “Why Us” Prompt
  5. 5. Example: "Sharing intellectual interests is an important aspect of university life. Describe an experience or idea that you find intellectually exciting, and explain why." Positive: This gives you an opportunity to convey your personality/views. Danger: You may take the "creative" aspect of the question as license to be obscure, pretentious, or undisciplined in their writing. Some tips: •It is important that the writing be informed. For example, you should not write about a fantasy meeting with a famous artist and get the titles of his paintings wrong. •Use common sense ("creative" doesn't mean eccentric or self- indulgent). •Do not to write about high-minded topics or exotic locales simply to impress the reader. The Creative Prompt
  6. 6. YOUR PREFERENCES: Are you an arts person or a hard-facts science type? YOUR VALUES: If you choose to drive a beat up old car and donate the rest of your paycheck to charity, that says something about you. In choosing your topic, you indicate what matters to you and how you perceive yourself. THE WAY YOU THINK: Are you whimsical, impulsive? Or are you methodical and careful? Questions about you and about their college reflect your choosing patterns. Even a question about a national issue can show your particular thinking style, level of intelligence, and insight. Some of the best essays—the memorable and unusual ones—are about everyday topics that are just more focused. Essays about your family, soccer team, trip to France, parents' divorce, or your twin can be effective as long as they're focused and specific: a single Christmas Eve church service, a meal of boiled tongue in Grenoble, or dipping ice cream on a summer job. What Your Topic Says...
  7. 7. Be concise, specific, personal, and honest. ✓ Answer the essay topic EXACTLY as it is given. ✓ Keep your focus NARROW and PERSONAL; your essay must prove a single point or thesis. ✓ Be specific- develop your main idea with vivid and specific facts, events, quotations, examples, etc ✓ Do use wit and imagination, but don't try to be funny if that's not your personality. Many essays backfire when the writer stretched for humor but what came out was plain silly. ✓ Proofread, then ask someone else to proofread. Then revise, and proofread again. Careless mistakes will drive the admissions board crazy. ✓ Be meticulous with format, mechanics, and style... Keep it to one page, single spaced in length. Helpful Hints... The Do’s
  8. 8. Don't be cynical, trite, pretentious, or maudlin. Do not use “you” or “got” or “like” Don’t tell them what you think they want to hear... bring something new to the table! Don’t use 50 words when 5 will do Don’t re-write your Activity list/resume or repeat what is included in other parts of the application by making the essay a second resume. Go behind the details they already know. For example, you can describe why membership in an activity was significant in your growth. Helpful Hints... The Don’ts
  9. 9. Bad College Essays...CRINGE-INDUCING METAPHOR: Do not describe the fine qualities of random nothings (roller coasters, beanbag chairs, Chunky Monkey ice cream, the McRib sandwich and their grandmother’s knitting basket) then, in a stunning conclusion, reveal that all along -– all along! -– the object has been a parallelism to the applicant’s own character and disposition. Fascinating? Not so much. REFORMED CONVICT ESSAY: This is a favorite for students with marginal grades and a sudden interest in college, based on their parents’ promise or pressure. Students wrongly assume that a full-blown confession will neutralize a high school transcript full of C’s. A repentant college essay based on lessons learned from “sexting” probably won’t make it into the yes pile. MOTHER THERESA ESSAY: Only slightly more annoying than the Reformed Convict Essay is the exaggerated, volunteer contribution essay. Sure, some student volunteers really do amazing things in their communities. But the vast majority spend half a Saturday playing with the
  10. 10. Bad College Essays... DEAD DOG ESSAY: It doesn’t always have to be a dog. Sometimes it’s a goldfish, a hamster, Great Uncle Albert. This is the essay that pits life against death, in an effort to exemplify growth, or courage or triumph of spirit. I know this advice seems unfair but dead dog essays rarely deliver the kind of William Wallace, face-paint-speech punch that their authors intend. FREE VERSE ESSAY: Despite thinking themselves wise to the pitfall of gimmicks, the perpetrators lapse into the most gimmicky mistake possible. They ignore the rules. They are, after all, tomorrow’s artists, lawyers and revolutionaries. Instead of three pages, they write three words. Instead of an essay, they write a poem. They write entirely in acronyms, as a commentary on society’s frayed, digital discourse. They use crayons, as a commentary on wax. Their reasons are their own. And so too is their unplanned denial of admission.
  11. 11. Bad College Essays... JERSEY SHORE ESSAY: This is the one where students are asked to discuss a person they admire. And about 5,000 wise alecks think they’re being ironic by citing Mike the Situation, or the Kardashian sisters or some other walking punch line. They might expect that admissions committees will swoon over their thoughtful use of topic sentences and supporting arguments, while ignoring the fact that Mike the Situation is a schmuck. But this is not a good tactic. WIZARD OF OZ ESSAY: This is the essay that state schools receive from good students who are all tuckered out after writing serious essays for the colleges they actually want to attend. Luckily, since these students have spent two years touring bigger, fancier schools in faraway places, they can fall back on some patch of truth, as they chronicle the adventure of their college selection process. In the end, they’ll say they realize, everything they need is waiting in their own backyard. It’s as sweetly phony as a Sarah Palin wink. But what the hell? It’s called “safety school” for a reason.
  12. 12. Some Creative PromptsU of Chicago: Find X Brandeis U: If you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens, who would you pick? Why? Kenyon College: Along the edge of ancient maps it used to say, "Here there be monsters." What does it say at the edge of your map, and why does it say that? Brown U: French novelist Anatole France wrote: "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't." What don't you know? California Institute of Technology: Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor and creative pranks and for finding unusual ways to have fun. What is something that you find fun or humorous?
  13. 13. 2013 CommonApp EssaysUsing 250-650 words... Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.  Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.  Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.  A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.