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Writing Great College Application
Essays That Pop: Orange County
School of the Arts!!!
Rebecca Joseph, PhD
rjoseph@calstat...
To get us started
On a piece of paper, list
your (or your child’s)
 Three activities or
accomplishments of
which you are...
The Power and Danger of Essays
1. Give me two reasons why admissions officers value
college application essays.
2. Give ...
Essays=Opportunity
Share
Reflect
Stand Out
How Important Are Essays?
1.Grades
2.Rigor of Coursework, School
3.Test Scores
4.Essays*
5.Recommendations-Teacher and/or ...
Do College Admissions Essays Matter?
 Essays are “not a substitute for a rigorous curriculum, good
grades and evidence th...
So….Tip 1
Tip 1. College essays are fourth in importance
behind grades, test scores, and the rigor of
completed coursewor...
A New Paradigm
Tip 2.
Develop an overall
strategic essay writing
plan.
College essays should
work together to
help you ...
Essays = Opportunity
 Take control over the highest ranked non-academic aspect of
the application
 Share their voice
 E...
What DO Admissions Officers Seek?
Context
Values
Commitment/Depth of
Interests
Interaction with and/or
perception by o...
Ultimately…admissions officers want to
know your…
Impact Initiative
Understand the Different
Types of Applications
Help students understand the landscape:
1)The Common Application
2) Large ...
Four Major Application Types:
1. The Common Application
 Many private and some public American use the centralized
Common...
1. Common Application Essays
One Long/ 250-650 words –Paste in.
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or...
Common Application Writing Supplements
Some long– U Penn, U Chicago (300-650 words)
Some medium—Stanford
Some small— Co...
Evan Common Application
I was speechless when I saw my name on the cast list. I thought that there must have been a typo. ...
After getting cast as the Queen, I quickly began to see what my teacher meant when he told me that it
would add humor to t...
Four Major Application Types:
2. Large Public Universities
Many large and most prominent public universities
have their o...
UC California
 Two essays
 Respond to both prompts, using a maximum of 1,000 words total.
 You may allocate the word co...
University of Texas Essay Tips
 Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear. The university’s essay readers don’t have a...
Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point Park
From the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older br...
Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point Park
From the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older br...
Finally, I found something for which I had talent. Finally, I found something to do while my
parents were at the hospital....
Four Major Application Types:
3 and 4. Other systems
Many conservatories have their own applications as
do many privates ...
Develop A Master Chart
Tip 3. Keep a chart of all essays required by each
college, including short responses and optional...
Write the Fewest
Yet Most Effective Essays…
Tip 4.
Find patterns
between colleges
essay requirements.
Use essays more
th...
Where to Begin: Brainstorm
Individual and Collaborative
Positive Personality Traits
5. Other Brainstorming Tips
Help them brainstorm
1.Make a resume.
2.Write about three of your major activities.
3.Reading ...
What Did You Do Last Summer?
Into, Through, and Beyond Essay Approach
Tip 7. Follow Dr. Joseph’s Into, Through, and Beyond
approach.
It is not just th...
Into,Through, and Beyond
Into
 It’s the way the reader can lead the reader into the piece—images, examples, context.
 Al...
Goal of Into Through Beyond
Share positive messages and powerful
outcomes.
Focus on impact, leadership, and initiative.
...
Write the Unexpected
I knelt on the ground, aching from the asphalt grinding into my dusty and
blackened knees. A piece of...
“I did it!”
I looked up. One of the freshmen stood at the end of one of the numerous openings of my half finished
maze, ar...
Tip 8. Use active writing: avoid passive sentences and
incorporate power verbs. Show when possible; tell
when summarizing....
Final Thoughts
Tip 10. Most importantly, make yourself come alive
throughout this process. Write about yourself as
passion...
Keep In Touch
Follow me on twitter @getmetocollege
Become my facebook friend:
 getmetocollege freeadvice
Email me at g...
Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts
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Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts

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This powerpoint is for the October 22, 2015 College Night at Orange County School of the Arts.

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  • If you’re struggling with your course work and are looking for an easier way out I’d recommend taking the approach I took with my AP US history class. I ordered papers from Digitalessay.net and picked a writer to write my essays for me. It worked great! A definite recommendation.
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Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts

  1. 1. Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts!!! Rebecca Joseph, PhD rjoseph@calstatela.edu facebook: getmetocollege freeadvice IPhone App/Google App: All College Application Essays This powerpoint is on slideshare.net/getmetocollege
  2. 2. To get us started On a piece of paper, list your (or your child’s)  Three activities or accomplishments of which you are the most proud?  Three major ways you have shown leadership or initiative?  Three artistic experiences you are most proud of?
  3. 3. The Power and Danger of Essays 1. Give me two reasons why admissions officers value college application essays. 2. Give me two reasons why they often dread reading the majority of them.
  4. 4. Essays=Opportunity Share Reflect Stand Out
  5. 5. How Important Are Essays? 1.Grades 2.Rigor of Coursework, School 3.Test Scores 4.Essays* 5.Recommendations-Teacher and/or Counselor 6.Activities-Sustained consistency, development, leadership, and initiative 7.Special skills, talents, awards, auditions, portfolios, community service and passions
  6. 6. Do College Admissions Essays Matter?  Essays are “not a substitute for a rigorous curriculum, good grades and evidence that you're going to do well,”  Still, the essay can make a difference.  The first challenge for the writer: picking a topic.  Any topic can work — or fail.  The biggest problem for students is starting with too wide a focus. "By the time they get to the details, they run out of space. I'm all for cutting to the chase."
  7. 7. So….Tip 1 Tip 1. College essays are fourth in importance behind grades, test scores, and the rigor of completed coursework in many admissions office decisions. Don’t waste this powerful opportunity to share your voice and express what you really offer to a college campus. Great life stories make you jump off the page and into your match colleges.
  8. 8. A New Paradigm Tip 2. Develop an overall strategic essay writing plan. College essays should work together to help you communicate key qualities and stories not available anywhere else in your application.
  9. 9. Essays = Opportunity  Take control over the highest ranked non-academic aspect of the application  Share their voice  Express who they really are  Show (not tell) stories that belong only to them and help them jump off the page  Challenge stereotypes  Reflect on their growth and development, including accomplishments and service  Seek to understand what the admission officer is looking for
  10. 10. What DO Admissions Officers Seek? Context Values Commitment/Depth of Interests Interaction with and/or perception by others Special talents and qualities Realistic self-appraisal
  11. 11. Ultimately…admissions officers want to know your… Impact Initiative
  12. 12. Understand the Different Types of Applications Help students understand the landscape: 1)The Common Application 2) Large Public Universities 3) Private College Specific Applications 4) Other Systems (Conservatories, Universal Application, etc.)
  13. 13. Four Major Application Types: 1. The Common Application  Many private and some public American use the centralized Common Application with their own Writing supplements  More than 650 colleges use it.  www.commonapp.org  Don’t start writing any essays until you see all the essays required for your top schools. My app-All College Application Essays has the requirements.
  14. 14. 1. Common Application Essays One Long/ 250-650 words –Paste in. 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again. 4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. Activities: The Common Application leaves room for 10 activities Additional Information: The Common Application allows you to add additional information. Accepts up to 650 words. Supplemental Essays They range from one line to 500 words. Some schools have one, while other have three. They can overlap. If it says optional, view it as mandatory.
  15. 15. Common Application Writing Supplements Some long– U Penn, U Chicago (300-650 words) Some medium—Stanford Some small— Columbia, Brown
  16. 16. Evan Common Application I was speechless when I saw my name on the cast list. I thought that there must have been a typo. After looking again, I realized that it was true, especially since all of the girls vying for parts were glaring at me. Without success, I tried to explain that I had no power over this decision. The fact that I, a 5’ 9” 160 pound man, was cast as the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, one of the two leading female roles, began when my theatre class was reading through a student-written version of the play. I was almost through with a semi-long monologue when my teacher interrupted me to talk about his personal life. My class and I had formed a great relationship with him and we always talked back to him, even though we knew that talking back to a teacher usually meant bad news. So, I told him to be quiet, and he told me that if I talked like that one more time, he would cast me as the Queen of Hearts. I didn’t put much thought into this, but I kept my mouth shut anyway. When I got to the audition room, I read for the Mad Hatter and the Caterpillar, the two characters that all the guys were trying out for. I started to head out when the teacher, who was also directing the show, told me to read for the Queen. I hesitated for a moment because that was the part that all of the girls were trying for, that and Alice. He explained that he thought it would be funny for the Queen to have a deep voice and hairy legs. I eventually read for her, but joined in with the rest of the cast when they thought it was all a joke.
  17. 17. After getting cast as the Queen, I quickly began to see what my teacher meant when he told me that it would add humor to the show if a boy were the Queen. I surprised myself at how much of the character I made my own. In fact, when the teacher came up to me one day and told me that a lot of my part was going to be improvised, I didn’t feel nervous at all; if it was any other part I would have felt that I couldn’t do it, but I felt so comfortable with the character that it didn’t scare me. Eventually, the first night of the performance came, and I felt completely ready. I put on my huge costume, luckily without heels, and went to my teacher. The makeup took about two hours to complete, and all I could think about was how happy I was that my teacher decided not to put me in roller-skates because of the amount of times I fell over my long dress. When I stepped onto the stage, however, I was so engaged in my character that my acting and improvisation was spotless. Many people even believed that I was actually my music teacher because I looked and sounded just like her. They realized it was me when they saw my hairy legs underneath the gown I was wearing. Everybody was impressed and gave me the biggest round of applause I had ever received. Playing the Queen of Hearts made me think about what type of actor I want to be. I have become a character actor; I love putting on different voices and accents and wowing the entire school. I even ended up playing Lumière in Beauty and the Beast because I was the only one who could do a French accent. I have really grown in my acting capabilities over the years, and recently when I was cast as Doc Gibbs in Our Town, at least there were no senior citizens in my school there to glare at me for taking a part away from them.
  18. 18. Four Major Application Types: 2. Large Public Universities Many large and most prominent public universities have their own applications.  Universities of Arizona, California, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—to name just some  They each have different essay requirements.  They each have your report activities in a different way.  But there are ways to use your other essays here as well.  They have their own essays. You should gather their topics and look for ways to use your common application essay as one of your essays for the public colleges, and visa-versa.
  19. 19. UC California  Two essays  Respond to both prompts, using a maximum of 1,000 words total.  You may allocate the word count as you wish. If you choose to respond to one prompt at greater length, we suggest your shorter answer be no less than 250 words. Prompt #1 (freshman applicants)-[Outside-In] Describe the world you come from – for example, your family, community or school – and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. Prompt #2 (all applicants) [Inside-Out] Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are.
  20. 20. University of Texas Essay Tips  Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear. The university’s essay readers don’t have a perfect essay in mind – as a matter of fact essays that sound like all the rest of them – the essay that is expected – is more likely to be overlooked.  Be yourself. Show us what makes you unique, how you’ve dealt with issues and problems, what you think about the topic at hand. Good writing teachers tell their students to write about what they know. That’s good advice for college essays, too.  Use a natural voice and style. Although it’s always important to use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, diction, etc., don’t write to try to impress anyone. Use words and a style that are appropriate for the topic you’re writing about, for someone your age, and for someone who’s trying to communicate clearly and logically.  Don’t be overly informal either. Your essay will be read by an adult professional. In almost all cases, you should avoid using words or phrases that you might use when texting someone or on a social networking site.  Develop your ideas. Although the length of your essay alone technically doesn’t matter, developing your ideas completely does matter. If you can do that in a single page of text, that’s good; but if it takes you three pages or so, that’s alright, too (as long as you’re not just adding words to make your essay longer). It’s not realistic to assume that you can clearly communicate your unique perspective about anything in a short paragraph or two.  Organize your thoughts. All good writing has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That doesn’t mean you should be formulaic in your writing (this isn’t a high school exit exam), but you should introduce your idea, provide interesting examples and details in support of your idea, and come to some sort of conclusion at the end.  Don’t respond to the prompt as though you’re answering a question. Again, we don’t have a perfect essay in mind. The prompt is supposed to get your mind churning, to make you want to tell us what you think about something that’s important to you. Your essay is your opportunity to do that.
  21. 21. Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point Park From the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older brother, Neil, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor at age two. By age seven, when I was four, he developed Leukemia. He relapsed at age 15. All in all, he’s had, and survived, cancer three times. Because of his illness and my family’s dedication to helping him survive, I was never surprised when family members, teachers, and friends treated me differently from other kids. It was as if I were the one who was sick. I received just as much sympathy as my brother. I brushed it off; I became emotionally numb to the entire situation. However, strong emotions began to surface while I was in middle school, during Neil’s third round of cancer. I refused to allow myself to be angry about this new occurrence; after all, it was nobody’s fault. However, having heard that often siblings of cancer patients tend to have major emotional issues, my parents, were concerned about me. I didn’t want them to worry, so I struggled to keep myself busy by playing soccer, attending choir rehearsals, figure skating, and taking voice lessons. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that I finally found my best emotional outlet: Musical Theatre.
  22. 22. Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point Park From the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older brother, Neil, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor at age two. By age seven, when I was four, he developed Leukemia. He relapsed at age 15. All in all, he’s had, and survived, cancer three times. Because of his illness and my family’s dedication to helping him survive, I was never surprised when family members, teachers, and friends treated me differently from other kids. It was as if I were the one who was sick. I received just as much sympathy as my brother. I brushed it off; I became emotionally numb to the entire situation. However, strong emotions began to surface while I was in middle school, during Neil’s third round of cancer. I refused to allow myself to be angry about this new occurrence; after all, it was nobody’s fault. However, having heard that often siblings of cancer patients tend to have major emotional issues, my parents, were concerned about me. I didn’t want them to worry, so I struggled to keep myself busy by playing soccer, attending choir rehearsals, figure skating, and taking voice lessons. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that I finally found my best emotional outlet: Musical Theatre.
  23. 23. Finally, I found something for which I had talent. Finally, I found something to do while my parents were at the hospital. Finally, I found a way to channel all my emotions and energy. Finally, I found my voice, a real voice to which people would listen. Finally! The stage offered me a way to momentarily escape my pain. Through theatre, I discovered a new supportive community and second family. Theatre helped me find confidence in myself that I previously struggled to discover. It was an outlet, a release, and a passion with which I ultimately fell in love. Before I could even fathom how I would react if my brother were to relapse for a fourth time, my father last year was diagnosed with a kidney tumor. I feared the cycle was about to start all over again. Though my father’s illness affected me emotionally, because of theater, I had the support of my peers who helped me fight alongside my father. Through these experiences, I have become an incredibly strong young woman. I have found optimism in difficult and unfortunate situations. My brother and my father are both in remission. Their bravery and willingness to fight has inspired me in numerous ways. I have built the confidence and strength that will help me accomplish all the goals in my life. While I will never forget these experiences, I don’t want that pain and sadness to define whom I am. I am more than that. I am a sister, a daughter, a fighter, and I too, am a survivor.
  24. 24. Four Major Application Types: 3 and 4. Other systems Many conservatories have their own applications as do many privates and publics. Yet their applications for financial aid or academic support programs add in those requirements. Washington State, for example, several short essays which they share with other state systems. Boston Conservatory has one personal statement The Universal Application is another system. It has fewer colleges on it than The Common Application.
  25. 25. Develop A Master Chart Tip 3. Keep a chart of all essays required by each college, including short responses and optional essays. View each essay or short response as a chance to tell a new story and to share your core qualities. I recommend three sheets.  1. Major deadlines and needs. Break it down by the four application types  2. Core essays-Color code all the similar or overlapping essays.  3. Supplemental essays. Each college has extra requirements on the common application. Again color code similar types: Why are you a good match for us? How will you add to the diversity of our campus?
  26. 26. Write the Fewest Yet Most Effective Essays… Tip 4. Find patterns between colleges essay requirements. Use essays more than once. UC 1 or 2=Common App =Scholarship Essay
  27. 27. Where to Begin: Brainstorm
  28. 28. Individual and Collaborative
  29. 29. Positive Personality Traits
  30. 30. 5. Other Brainstorming Tips Help them brainstorm 1.Make a resume. 2.Write about three of your major activities. 3.Reading model essays from actual college websites 4.Looking at other college’s essay prompts-U Chicago, Tufts 5.Creating a letter to future roommate or an amazing list of what makes you you. 6.Looking at 5 top FB and Instagram Pictures 7.Reading models from other students 8.Do culture bags
  31. 31. What Did You Do Last Summer?
  32. 32. Into, Through, and Beyond Essay Approach Tip 7. Follow Dr. Joseph’s Into, Through, and Beyond approach. It is not just the story that counts. It’s the choice of qualities a student wants the college to know about herself
  33. 33. Into,Through, and Beyond Into  It’s the way the reader can lead the reader into the piece—images, examples, context.  Always uses active language: power verbs, crisp adjectives, specific nouns. Through  What happened…quickly…yet clearly with weaving of story and personal analysis  Specific focus on the student  Great summarizing, details, and images at same time Beyond  Ending that evokes key characteristics  Conveys moral  Answers ending prompts of two UC essays  UC 1”and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.”  UC 2 “What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are”
  34. 34. Goal of Into Through Beyond Share positive messages and powerful outcomes. Focus on impact, leadership, and initiative. If you want to include challenges, lead quickly to who you are now. Some states can use only socio-economic status, but not race, in admissions, but in your essays, your voice and background can emerge.
  35. 35. Write the Unexpected I knelt on the ground, aching from the asphalt grinding into my dusty and blackened knees. A piece of thick blue chalk in hand, with one fluid sweep of the arm, and then another, I connected two paths, creating a loop, where one path swung back and reconnected with itself. I stood up. Colorful lines intertwined with each other, knotting, weaving, splitting off, and joining back together. Taking careful steps, I walked over my creation, around the corner of a building, and watched as it continued to stretch out towards one end of school. I spied the start, looked back around the corner, and imagined the end. A few middle-schoolers stood at the edge of my maze, eying one particular path from their feet, all the way until they lost it, then returning to their school day and continuing on to class. A pair of freshman walked the paths, twisting and turning, often looping back around; careful to stay within the lines I had drawn. I walked back to where I was working, picked out a new piece of yellow chalk, and quickly broke an open end of a path into two open ends, then two into four, sweeping, crossing over, then under one another, morphing into green when the yellow chalk ran out.
  36. 36. “I did it!” I looked up. One of the freshmen stood at the end of one of the numerous openings of my half finished maze, arms raised above his head, spinning slowly in circles. Staring blankly at him was his counterpart, still lost deep within the curls of the maze. It was not for myself that I had drawn the maze. It was for the kids mindlessly walking from class to class, staring at the asphalt under their feet as they thought about equations and essays. I created it so that these kids would have another world to enter as they crisscrossed the school, letting their minds wander to a land of color and art. But just as easily as I can draw a chalk line on the ground, I can drowsily greet hundreds of students on a misty morning, moisten the ground, and wash away my chalk line. My work with film is different though. When I create films, I expect them to last forever. I expect to be able to dig them out of an old dusty attic box, plug in a dusty and outdated DVD player and watch what I made. When I come up with an idea, a thought, I expect that idea to be buried deep within the folds of my memory for eternity, waiting to be rediscovered. But not chalk. When using chalk, I expect whatever I make to be gone almost as soon as I draw it, which makes whatever I create all the more precious. When I only have a few seconds, a few hours, a few days to cherish something, those fleeting moments become all the more powerful. All I can do is work to make the most beautiful creations possible and cherish them while they last.
  37. 37. Tip 8. Use active writing: avoid passive sentences and incorporate power verbs. Show when possible; tell when summarizing. Tip 9. Have trusted inside and impartial outside readers read your essays. Make sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors. Take the Time With These Essays
  38. 38. Final Thoughts Tip 10. Most importantly, make yourself come alive throughout this process. Write about yourself as passionately and powerfully as possible. Be proud of your life and accomplishments. Sell yourself!!! Students often need weeks not days to write effective essays. You need to push beyond stereotypes. Admissions officers can smell “enhanced” essays. You can find many great websites and examples but each student is different.
  39. 39. Keep In Touch Follow me on twitter @getmetocollege Become my facebook friend:  getmetocollege freeadvice Email me at getmetocollege.org This powerpoint is on slideshare under my name getmetocollege Buy my website and app: All College Application Essays

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