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Tagged: Essays

Summer splash: diving into college applications

June 25th, 2018

In the world of college admissions, all summers are important for high school students but we see a special opportunity for rising seniors.  In between your structured activities, summer is the perfect time to make major progress on your college applications.  And for rising juniors, setting up a Common App account now gives you the opportunity to add activities and honors over time.

As you approach the Common App with great thoughtfulness, you really want to consider what the reader wants to know. When I sat on college admission committees, the applications that stood out most gave me a sense that the student was sitting right next to me and I could engage in conversation with him or her.  The way you describe yourself should be compelling, while giving an accurate description of your interests and accomplishments.  I encourage all students to approach their work in this way.

A few things to consider when composing your application…

  • Sometimes the activities line does not give you enough space; use the “additional information” portion of the writing section to add important details.
  • The essay prompts used for fall 2018 entry will remain the same for students beginning their applications now.  The choice of which prompt to address is less important than the story to tell – the essay should provide a window into your life.
  • The Common App will be offline from July 27 (midday) to July 31 in preparation to launch the 2018-2019 application on August 1.
    During this time, colleges’ questions are updated and the previous year’s applicants are stored.

    • Account Rollover retains an active applicant’s college list and the seven sections of the ‘Common App’ tab: Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, Writing, and Courses & Grades.
    • After August 1, students may log on with the same username and password, respond to a few questions and find their previous work intact.
    • College supplements, however, will be refreshed and any work on those would be deleted – so while it is okay to peek at last year’s questions, do not tackle college supplements in your Common App until after the Rollover period.
      • Some colleges will place new essay and short answer prompts on their admission sites ahead of the Rollover so it can be wise to check each college’s website for a head-start on institution-specific questions.

Many of our students already have opened their Common App accounts.  If not, please go to www.commonapp.org to get started today!

 

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The Purpose Challenge – scholarship competition and toolkit

October 16th, 2017

Have you ever thought about your purpose in life? Studies have shown that defining your purpose can lead to a happier and more thoughtful way of living.  What exactly does this mean?  Novelist/humorist Leo Rosten defined it like this:

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be ‘happy.’  I think the purpose of life is

  • To be useful
  • To be responsible
  • To be compassionate.

It is, above all

  • To matter
  • To count
  • To stand for something
  • To have made some difference that you lived at all.”

I recently came across The Purpose Challenge and thought it was worth sharing.  The essay portion of this challenge is meant specifically for seniors working on applications – you could earn a scholarship with your purpose-driven essay!  However, this is a good read for all and the site offers a toolkit that has value for high school students of all ages.  I think it can help you find that inner motivation to live each day to the fullest.

 

Read more at The Purpose Challenge >>

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How to conquer the admissions essay

August 7th, 2017

We’ve shared several articles in the past weeks relating to essay questions, and many of our rising seniors have made good progress.  With the first day of school right around the corner, now’s the time to get serious about this part of your application if you haven’t yet done so.  In the article shared below, creative writer Rachel Toor gives great insight into what really goes on behind closed doors during admissions reviews.  

Toor gives specific examples of topics that work and some that don’t, with a great list of of things students should avoid.  The most significant piece of advice throughout this article is to make your essay personal and help the readers understand who you are through your writing.  

Many students have heard me reminisce about my years on admission committees at Tufts, Brandeis and Washington universities.  The best essays that I read during that time made me feel the student was right across the desk from me, ready to talk and answer questions.  Let your personality and voice shine through!

Article published below by New York Times

Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty members who sit around a big table covered with files. The admissions people, often young and underpaid, buzz with enthusiasm; the professors frequently pause to take off their glasses and rub their eyes.

These exhausted folks, hopped up from eating too many cookies and brownies, have been sitting in committee meetings for days after spending a couple of months reading applications, most of which look pretty similar: baseball = life, or debate = life, or “I went to a developing country and discovered poor people can be happy.”

Read more at New York Times >>

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Common Application’s new and revised essay prompts

May 30th, 2017

The school year has ended for some and is near for others!  

While seniors have made college enrollment choices, juniors are just beginning to ramp up for the excitement of application season. For students still intent on final exams, it is most important to finish the year with a flourish.  But as the academic year finishes, juniors can begin letting essay ideas flow.

The new essay prompts from the Common Application have been revised and improved through the guidance of teachers, students and school counselors.  The goal of the edits is to give students more room to express themselves freely.  Along with two new prompts, three of the essay prompts have been revised to reflect the suggestions of members and constituents.

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

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. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]
 

We expect these topics will spark many ideas about great stories to tell and look forward to reading our rising seniors’ essays in the weeks and months ahead.

Read more at The Common Application >>

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