Completing The College Essay


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Completing The College Essay

  1. 1. Completing the College Essay Why, how, and what it should / should NOT look like
  2. 2. Why do this at all? <ul><li>Couple reasons… </li></ul><ul><li>Colleges want to find out the depth of students' understanding of intellectual or social issues, quality and freshness of mind, clarification of issues referred to skeletally elsewhere in application. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Also, they want to <ul><li>See what a student’s writing style is like, if it’s technically correct and if it’s fluent; </li></ul><ul><li>Determine if there’s anything of real interest to the student; </li></ul><ul><li>Distinguish something unique about you that sets you apart from the thousands of other applications they receive each year. </li></ul>
  4. 4. But, HB! I’m freakin’ out over this! <ul><li>Understand why you’re freaking out. </li></ul><ul><li>Breathe. </li></ul><ul><li>Listen to what we’re going over. </li></ul><ul><li>Think. </li></ul><ul><li>Apply what you’ve thought about, i.e. draft </li></ul><ul><li>Draft again. </li></ul><ul><li>Draft again with help from UB folks. </li></ul>
  5. 5. How to start – Know the School <ul><li>Start reviewing all the information you receive from a college. </li></ul><ul><li>Collect info on the school from college fairs. </li></ul><ul><li>Google articles about the school online. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk to people who go there. </li></ul>
  6. 6. How ELSE to start -- <ul><li>Listen to Willie the Shake (Shakespeare): </li></ul><ul><li>“ To Thine own self be true!” </li></ul>
  7. 7. γνῶθι σεαυτόν ! ( it’s ancient Greek; Any guess what it means?) <ul><li>Review your UB awards list </li></ul><ul><li>List stuff you’ve done at your HS </li></ul><ul><li>List stuff you’ve done in the community </li></ul><ul><li>Doesn’t matter how minor you see it as being, for the time being list it…NOW. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Answer the question being asked <ul><li>Figure out the type of question. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you understand it. </li></ul><ul><li>Start drafting. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Types of Essay Questions <ul><li>The “you” question </li></ul><ul><li>This can be a personal statement, one that asks you to describe a significant experience, interest, challenge, or value, or a question asking you how you’ve changed or developed as a person. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Examples of the “you” question <ul><li>Please complete a one-page personal statement and submit it with your application. (James Madison University) </li></ul><ul><li>Tell us about one of the best conversations you've ever had. (Pitzer College) </li></ul><ul><li>Describe any interesting experience you have had during your college admission search. (Juniata College – Ms. HB’s alma mater!) </li></ul><ul><li>How would you describe yourself as a human being? What quality do you like best in yourself and what do you like least? What quality would you most like to see flourish and which would you like to see wither?&quot; (Bates College) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Types of Essay Questions <ul><li>The “Why Us?” question </li></ul><ul><li>These questions focus on your choice of school or career as self-reflective. For example… </li></ul>
  12. 12. Examples of the “Why Us? question <ul><li>Tell us about yourself, your reasons for applying to USF, and your reasons forseeking a college education. (University of San Francisco) </li></ul><ul><li>Describe your reasons for selecting Loyola College and your personal and professional goals and plans for after college. (Loyola College) </li></ul><ul><li>Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your future goals. (Georgetown University) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Types of Essay Questions <ul><li>The Creative question </li></ul><ul><li>These force you to think by asking you to use respond to a quotation, reflecting on a person, discussing a political situation, or imagining the future. Ivy league schools and scholarships usually use these type of essays and in a lot of cases, so will the Common Ap. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Examples of the Creative question <ul><li>Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. (Common Application) </li></ul><ul><li>In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge that your generation will face? What ideas do you have for dealing with this issue? (College of the Holy Cross) </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence. (Common Application) </li></ul><ul><li>John Keats said, 'Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.' Please tell us about an experience in your own life which illustrated a proverb, maxim, or quote that has special meaning for you. (Duke University) </li></ul><ul><li>You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217. (UPenn) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Types of Essay Questions <ul><li>Other examples – </li></ul><ul><li>Ask and answer the one important question which you wish we had asked. (Carleton College) </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on the relationship between passion and compassion. (Bennington College) </li></ul><ul><li>What is the biggest misconception people have of you and why? (Hiram College) </li></ul><ul><li>And… </li></ul>
  16. 16. THE “OH-MY-GOSH-I’D-RATHER-FLIP-BURGERS-THAN-ANSWER-THIS-QUESTION” QUESTION… <ul><li>Please compose a story, play, or dialogue that meets all of the following requirements: </li></ul><ul><li>1. You must begin with the sentence, 'Many years later, he remembered his first </li></ul><ul><li>experience with ice.' </li></ul><ul><li>2. All five senses-sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell-have to figure in the plot </li></ul><ul><li>3. You have to mention the University of Chicago, but, please, no accounts of an </li></ul><ul><li>erstwhile high school student applying to the University -- this is fiction, </li></ul><ul><li>not autobiography. </li></ul><ul><li>4.These items must be included: a new pair of socks, a historical landmark, a </li></ul><ul><li>spork (the combination spoon and fork frequently seen among airline </li></ul><ul><li>flatware), a domesticated animal, and the complete works of William Shakespeare. </li></ul><ul><li>Have fun, and try to keep your brilliance and wit to three pages max. </li></ul><ul><li>(University of Chicago) </li></ul>
  17. 17. No matter which you answer… <ul><li>Draft, revise, and draft and revise again, making sure you’re answering the question. </li></ul><ul><li>USE SPELL CHECK </li></ul><ul><li>USE GRAMMER CHECK </li></ul><ul><li>ADHERE TO WORD LENGTH. </li></ul><ul><li>12 point font, double spaced, and regular margins unless you’re told otherwise. </li></ul><ul><li>After you’ve done the above, seek help from HB, KA, Trujillo, Suprys, Chaytor,or folks at your high school. </li></ul><ul><li>Make copies of everything – twice! </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – You choose! <ul><li>You are serving on the admissions committee of Whatsamatta U. Part of your duties involve reviewing admissions essays and determining if the writers are perspective students destined for greatness or if their essays are too lame for words. Read the essays on the next few slides and then be specific. If it’s acceptable, why? If not, why not? </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>Essay #1: Are there any significant experiences you have had or accomplishments you have realized that have helped to define you as a person? </li></ul><ul><li>I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. </li></ul><ul><li>Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. </li></ul><ul><li>I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up mountains at unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. </li></ul><ul><li>Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge. </li></ul><ul><li>I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. </li></ul><ul><li>My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me. </li></ul><ul><li>I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations with the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me. </li></ul><ul><li>I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a toaster oven. </li></ul><ul><li>I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. </li></ul><ul><li>I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis. </li></ul><ul><li>But I have not yet gone to college. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Essay #2: Please tell the committee about yourself and your goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Hi! :-) </li></ul><ul><li>I want to be a pediatric (baby) marine biologist because I like the ocean, small things, and animals. :-) </li></ul><ul><li>Every summer my family and I go to our summer house for July and August and it is near the ocean. This is in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where there is even a marine biologist museum, and the people inside the museum have cool clothes and they always have shoes that you can't get anywhere else. I call them Marine Biologist shoes. :-) </li></ul><ul><li>By the way, I was looking in your course catalog for the marine biologist courses and those courses seem to involve working with fish or things like fish. :-( </li></ul><ul><li>I'm not really all that interested in fish, I mean I'll take the required fish courses, but what I am really interested in is animals that live in or near the water, except fish. :-( </li></ul><ul><li>I like seals, especially baby seals, :-) and whales :-) (Free Willy was so cool, except or part II), and even wet kittens and other small things, like baby dolphins :-)(are they fish? :-). That's why I want to specialize in being a pediatric marine biologist, because animals are cuter when they are little, and probably easier to study. :-) </li></ul><ul><li>Call me Rachel, </li></ul><ul><li>The Future Pediatric Marine Biologist :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Essay #3: How did you first become interested in Whatsamatta University and why do you think Whatsamatta University might be an appropriate place, both socially and academically, to continue your education? </li></ul><ul><li>Response #1: </li></ul><ul><li>I could tell you a heartfelt, sentimental, poignant story about first seeing a Whatsamatta University </li></ul><ul><li>refrigerator magnet (my uncle got it at a reunion, I think) and feeling first deep emotions stirring somewhere </li></ul><ul><li>inside my spleen. Or I could meticulously paraphrase the numerous brochures and articles about Whatsamatta </li></ul><ul><li>University that I have perused. Yet another option would be to rent a small airplane and skywrite, &quot;I want to go </li></ul><ul><li>to Whatsamatta University,“ in colorful pollutants. </li></ul><ul><li>And I probably would resort to one of these strategies, had I not some real incentives to attend </li></ul><ul><li>Whatsamatta University College. They are based on what I have learned from The Princeton Review, general </li></ul><ul><li>knowledge, conversations I have overheard, and other miscellaneous tidbits of information sent to me by friends </li></ul><ul><li>and relatives. </li></ul><ul><li>First of all, I must express my admiration to the people who have decided that education is, after all, the </li></ul><ul><li>purpose and responsibility of a college and established the precedence of academics over sports at </li></ul><ul><li>Whatsamatta University. I'd like to attend a school where I, a debater, will not be viewed as a second-class </li></ul><ul><li>citizen by football players. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondly, the notoriety of great educational standards has reached me all the way in Vancouver (OK, so it </li></ul><ul><li>is only across the river) and enticed, attracted, and urged me to apply to Whatsamatta University. Rumors of the </li></ul><ul><li>“ side effects&quot; of avalanches of homework and sleepless nights have crept here, too, but I'm up to the challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>After two years of juggling high school, college, and extracurricular activities, receiving assignments only at one </li></ul><ul><li>place just might be paradise. </li></ul><ul><li>Lastly, Whatsamatta University's geographical location is just like pretty wrapping paper and a big red bow </li></ul><ul><li>on a present that's already great ( forgive the allusions to the Haagen-Dasz commercials). Living in Portland, </li></ul><ul><li>would be simultaneously away from my family in Vancouver--and as close as I might need to be! Not only would </li></ul><ul><li>I have the opportunity to become better acquainted with Portland, but also to judge at debate tournaments for my </li></ul><ul><li>old high school! The possibilities are mouthwatering. </li></ul><ul><li>Jokes aside, I believe that attending Whatsamatta University will be one of the most sensible things I might </li></ul><ul><li>do in my whole life. Learning is what I do best, and at Whatsamatta University I will have the perfect opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>to excel at it. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Essay #3: How did you first become interested in Whatsamatta University and why do you think Whatsamatta University might be an appropriate place, both socially and academically, to continue your education? </li></ul><ul><li>Response #2: </li></ul><ul><li>I want to attend your university because of its outstanding health benefits. Asyou </li></ul><ul><li>can probably tell from other parts of my application, I have had a number of mental </li></ul><ul><li>break downs. </li></ul><ul><li>OK, I'm a psycho: </li></ul><ul><li>No I'm not, just kidding, but it helps to vent. </li></ul><ul><li>Anyway, when I took your tour last summer I wound up in the infirmary because I </li></ul><ul><li>was really stressed and it was hot and the guide was OK but she was talking really </li></ul><ul><li>fast and I couldn't keep up, so I just fainted--and there I was in the infirmary. </li></ul><ul><li>Great infirmaries by the way, say HI! to Dr. Babcock (thanks for the I-V Xanax, </li></ul><ul><li>whoo!, I was chillin'), and when we got the bill and saw what a great health plan you </li></ul><ul><li>had, my father was really impressed. </li></ul><ul><li>I think you should put your infirmary in your View Book, it's so sterile and clean. I </li></ul><ul><li>broke down on a couple of tours, so like I've checked out the competition. Cornell </li></ul><ul><li>has a great infirmary, but they're a BIG University (Man, would I would be stressed </li></ul><ul><li>there), and their benefits are only so-so. </li></ul><ul><li>OK, reject me, it's not that I'll kill myself. Well, I won't kill myself, I will come to </li></ul><ul><li>your campus and try to kill myself, and then I will wind up in your wonderful infirmary </li></ul><ul><li>and take extension courses. </li></ul><ul><li>I have to stop now. </li></ul>
  23. 23. GETTING OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT-- --IT'S HARD TO DO WORSE THAN THESE OPENING SENTENCES <ul><li>1. Sure, lots of kids like to start fires, but how many of them have a propane torch, gallons of accelerants and a basket of dry rags . . . </li></ul><ul><li>2. One score minus three years ago, and nine months, my father and mother, deciding to form a more perfect union, had sex, and that's about how it all got started with me . . . . . </li></ul><ul><li>3. This is Shanda writing, one of the 25 personalities possessed by Ellen Kurtz, who is the nominal applicant for admission . . . . </li></ul><ul><li>4. among the many things that are the result of imperialism racism and kapitalism are standard punktuation grammar and spelling which all serve to put the entire human race into a sausage machine . . . . </li></ul><ul><li>5. Coach says . . . . </li></ul><ul><li>6. Of arms and of the woman and of Cindy Bindlemeyer and her college application essay, sing, O Muse . . . . </li></ul><ul><li>7. How's about I write page 342 of YOUR autobiography: &quot;After flunking out of medical school, Kermit Dowling decides to pursue a career in college admissions . . . .&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>8. Take me: Please, pretty please, pretty-pretty please, super-dooper pretty-pretty-pretty please . . . . . </li></ul>
  24. 24. Ok…You’re turn… <ul><li>Whatcha got? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Send your college application essays to HB <ul><li>You should know my email by now – </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>We’ll talk next week! </li></ul>