Colleges Updated in College Essay Organizer for the 2011/2012 Application Season

Here is a list of colleges that have been updated for the 2011/2012 application season in College Essay Organizer through August 11th. Expect this list to continue to grow each week.

  1. Albright College
  2. Alfred University
  3. Alma College
  4. American University of Paris
  5. American University of Rome
  6. Amherst College
  7. Arizona State University
  8. Auburn University
  9. Augustana College
  10. Babson College
  11. Baldwin-Wallace College
  12. Bard College at Simon's Rock
  13. Bates College
  14. Belmont University
  15. Beloit College
  16. Benedict College
  17. Bennington College
  18. Bentley University
  19. Berea College
  20. Berklee College of Music
  21. Berry College
  22. Birmingham-Southern College
  23. Bloomfield College
  24. Boise State University
  25. Boston University
  26. Bowdoin College
  27. Bowling Green State University
  28. Bradley University
  29. Brevard College
  30. Brigham Young University-Provo
  31. Brown University
  32. Bryant University
  33. Cabrini College
  34. California College of the Arts
  35. California Lutheran University
  36. California State University-East Bay
  37. California State University-Bakersfield
  38. California State University-Long Beach
  39. Calvin College
  40. Campbell University
  41. Carnegie Mellon University
  42. Carroll University
  43. Catholic University of America
  44. Cedar Crest College
  45. Centenary College of Louisiana
  46. Centre College
  47. Chatham University
  48. Christendom College
  49. Christian Brothers University in TN
  50. Claremont McKenna College
  51. Clark Atlanta University
  52. Clarkson University
  53. Clemson University
  54. Coe College
  55. College of Idaho
  56. College of New Jersey
  57. College of the Atlantics
  58. College of the Holy Cross
  59. College of the Ozarks
  60. College of Wooster
  61. Colorado College
  62. Colorado School of Mines
  63. Columbia College Chicago
  64. Columbia University
  65. Connecticut College
  66. Cornell University
  67. Dartmouth College
  68. Delaware State University
  69. Denison University
  70. Duke University
  71. Duquesne University
  72. Eastern Mennonite University
  73. Elmira College
  74. Elon University
  75. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
  76. Emory and Henry College
  77. Erskine College
  78. Fairfield University
  79. Fisher College (MA)
  80. Fisk University
  81. Flagler College
  82. Florida Atlantic University
  83. Florida Institute of Technology
  84. Florida International University
  85. Florida Southern College
  86. Florida State University
  87. Fordham University
  88. Franklin and Marshall College
  89. Franklin Pierce University
  90. Furman University
  91. Gannon University
  92. George Fox University
  93. Georgetown College
  94. Georgetown University
  95. Georgetown University
  96. Georgia College and State University
  97. Georgia Institue of Technology
  98. Georgia Southern University
  99. Gonzaga University
  100. Gordon College
  101. Goshen College
  102. Goucher College
  103. Green Mountain College
  104. Grinnell College
  105. Guilford College
  106. Hamilton College
  107. Hampshire College
  108. Hampton University
  109. Hanover College
  110. Harvard College
  111. Hastings College
  112. Hendrix College
  113. High Point University
  114. Hiram College
  115. Hollins University
  116. Hood College
  117. Illinois Institute of Technology
  118. Indiana University
  119. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  120. Indiana Wesleyan University
  121. Iowa State University
  122. Kansas State University
  123. Keene State College
  124. Kenyon College
  125. Knox College
  126. Lees-McRae College
  127. Lehigh University
  128. Lenoir-Rhyne University
  129. Longwood University
  130. Louisiana State University
  131. Louisiana Tech University
  132. Loyola University New Orleans
  133. Lynchburg College
  134. Lyon College
  135. Macaulay Honors
  136. Maine College of Art
  137. Marlboro College
  138. Marshall University
  139. Marymount Manhattan College
  140. Marymount University (VA)
  141. Maryville College
  142. Marywood University
  143. Massachusetts College of Art & Design
  144. McDaniel College
  145. Miami University (OH)
  146. Michigan Technological University
  147. Middlebury College
  148. Mills College
  149. Millsaps College
  150. Misericordia University
  151. Mississippi College
  152. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  153. Monmouth College
  154. Moravian College
  155. Morgan State University
  156. Mount Union College
  157. Murray State University
  158. Nebraska Wesleyan University
  159. New College of Florida
  160. New England College
  161. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  162. Newbury College
  163. Norfolk State University
  164. Northeastern University
  165. Northern Arizona University
  166. Northland College
  167. Northwestern University
  168. Nova Southeastern University
  169. Oberlin College
  170. Occidental College
  171. Ohio State University-Columbus
  172. Oklahoma State University
  173. Otterbein University
  174. Pacific Union College
  175. Palm Beach Atlantic University
  176. Paul Smith's College
  177. Pepperdine University
  178. Piedmont College
  179. Pitzer College
  180. Pomona College
  181. Post University
  182. Prescott College
  183. Princeton University
  184. Principia College
  185. Quinnipiac University
  186. Randolph College
  187. Randolph-Macon College
  188. Rhodes College
  189. Ripon College
  190. Roanoke College
  191. Rosemont College
  192. Sacred Heart University
  193. Saint Joseph's University
  194. Saint Mary's College (CA)
  195. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  196. Saint Michael's College
  197. Saint Vincent College
  198. Sarah Lawrence College
  199. Scripps College
  200. Seattle University
  201. Sewanee: The University of the South
  202. Shenandoah University
  203. South Dakota State University
  204. Southwestern University
  205. Spelman College
  206. Springfield College
  207. St. Edward's University
  208. St. Mary's College of Maryland
  209. St. Mary's University of San Antonio
  210. Stanford University
  211. State University of New York at Oswego
  212. State University of New York at Plattsburgh
  213. Stephens College
  214. Sterling College
  215. Stevens Institute of Technology
  216. Suffolk
  217. Swarthmore College
  218. Sweet Briar College
  219. Syracuse University
  220. Texas A&M University-College Station
  221. Texas A&M University-Galveston
  222. Texas State University
  223. The University of New England
  224. Touro College
  225. Trinity College (CT)
  226. Trinity University
  227. Truman State University
  228. Tufts University
  229. Tusculum College
  230. Tuskegee University
  231. United States Air Force Academy
  232. University of Alabama
  233. University of Alabama-Huntsville
  234. University of Arizona
  235. University of Bridgeport
  236. University of California-Berkeley
  237. University of California-Davis
  238. University of California-Irvine
  239. University of California-Los Angeles
  240. University of California-Merced
  241. University of California-Riverside
  242. University of California-San Diego
  243. University of California-Santa Barbara
  244. University of California-Santa Cruz
  245. University of Central Florida
  246. University of Chicago
  247. University of Cincinnati
  248. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  249. University of Colorado-Boulder
  250. University of Connecticut
  251. University of Dayton
  252. University of Denver
  253. University of Findlay
  254. University of Florida
  255. University of Georgia
  256. University of Great Falls
  257. University of Idaho
  258. University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  259. University of Iowa
  260. University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  261. University of Maryland-College Park
  262. University of Miami
  263. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  264. University of Minnesota-Morris
  265. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  266. University of Mississippi
  267. University of Missouri-Columbia
  268. University of Missouri-Kansas city
  269. University of Montana
  270. University of Montevallo
  271. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  272. University of New Hampshire at Manchester
  273. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  274. University of North Dakota
  275. University of Notre Dame
  276. University of Oklahoma
  277. University of Pittsburgh
  278. University of Rhode Island
  279. University of Richmond
  280. University of San Diego
  281. University of South Dakota
  282. University of Southern California
  283. University of Southern Maine
  284. University of Southern Mississippi
  285. University of St. Thomas
  286. University of Tampa
  287. University of Texas-Austin
  288. University of Texas-El Paso
  289. University of Tulsa
  290. University of Utah
  291. University of Victoria
  292. University of Virginia
  293. University of Washington-Seattle
  294. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  295. University of Wyoming
  296. Utah State University
  297. Utica College
  298. Valdosta State University
  299. Valparaiso University
  300. Vanderbilt University
  301. Villanova University
  302. Wake Forest University
  303. Washington and Jefferson College
  304. Washington and Lee University
  305. Washington University in St. Louis
  306. Webb Institute
  307. Wells College
  308. Wesleyan College
  309. Wesleyan University
  310. West Virginia University
  311. Western Michigan University
  312. Westminster College (MO)
  313. Westmont College
  314. Wheaton College
  315. Wheaton College (IL)
  316. Wilkes University
  317. Winona State University (MN)
  318. Wofford College
  319. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  320. Xavier University (OH)
  321. York College of Pennsylvania

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Application Deadlines

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill LogoOne benefit of using College Essay Organizer is our inclusion of what we call "Bio Data," or the most important information about applying to a given school. Any time you look at your Essay RoadMap or Essay QuickFinder, you'll see a small block of text along with the name of the school that provides the application deadline, academic achievements of the accepted student body, SAT and ACT ranges, and the school's website.

Just like with essay requirements, this information can be surprisingly difficult to find or confirm with school officials, so we do a lot of leg work on our end to check and re-check this information before presenting it to our users.

A good example of why that is came up this week while researching the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. UNC is obviously a large and prestigious public institution, and as a result gets a lot of traffic on College Essay Organizer. The state of North Carolina maintains a site called the College Foundation of North Carolina, dedicated to helping students from that state find the right education for them - but when we looked on that site, we saw that there was a discrepancy in the application deadline. I think we can all agree that's a fairly important piece of data.

After some more research on our end, we found that the deadline for Early Action to UNC-Chapel Hill is indeed 10/15, not 11/1 as the College Foundation site claims. And this is an official site put together by the state!

Add to this the piles of misinformation in books published every year about the admissions process, and on the College Board and Common App, and it quickly becomes clear that it is not always as easy as it might seem to dig up this information. You can do this tedious, time-consuming work on your own - or have College Essay Organizer do it for you instantly.

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New York Times Stresses the Importance of the College Essay

New York TimesThis article recently featured on the New York Times stresses the importance of the college essay, even going so far as to suggest that students should devote their summers to crafting an experience worthy of a college essay. One of the more interesting aspects to the article is that students do not need to necessarily spend an enormous amount of money, or even travel great distances to come up with an experience that makes for a stand-out essay. Trips can be small, or even local, just so long as they are targeted, specific, and memorable:

Students do not have to spend a summer abroad for an essay-worthy experience. When Mary Lang Gill was a rising senior at the Atlanta Girls School, a private school, she hired Pam Proctor, an independent college counselor and the author of “The College Hook,” a college admissions guide. After learning that Ms. Gill loved to paint, Ms. Proctor connected her to the Florida Highwaymen, a band of renegade painters active during the 1950s and ’60s.

“I spent a whole day with them,” painting and observing, said Ms. Gill, who just graduated from Dickinson College. “It was one of the coolest things ever, and I love that and I got to put it on my application.” Ms. Proctor said she spent a great deal of time with students helping them find the right topic for the college essay. “Picking the essays is as important as writing them,” she said. After that, she said, the stories “write themselves.”

Creating a strong college essay is often about specificity and significance of subject as much as command of basic writing. By keeping that in mind, often just a few hours' work in selecting a topic, and a day or three of effort to make it a reality can yield a truly unique piece of writing, not to mention a genuine experience and new sights for the student.

Keep in mind, though, that most articles and books about the college essay process fail to point out that you'll have many essays to write, not just one. Check for free here to see how many essays your colleges require.

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The Importance of August

Shereem Herndon-Brown is the Founder and President of Strategic Admissions Advice, LLC. He is a former Admissions Officer from Georgetown University, college counselor at three private schools and Director of Middle and Upper School Admission. An Associate Member of IECA, he has clients around the country particularly in New York City, Atlanta and Dallas.

Although there is no immediate application deadline looming, August is an intense month in our industry. With the Common Application becoming available and colleges releasing supplements, we are bombarded with “start now!!” The anxiety surrounding the college application process is upon us and, rightfully and respectively so, many of us want our kids to start early. Waiting until when school starts is dangerous and should be avoided. Too often we allow our kids to wait, and with the possibility of fall standardized testing, the inevitability of quizzes or papers on summer reading and, naturally, the emotional ups and downs of leaving home in twelve short months, the school year becomes hectic and unnecessary stress ensues.

For me, August marks the time that kids have to get serious. Whether or not they drafted a personal essay last spring or in July, there is no denying that they must do it now. Couple that with Early Decision, Early Action and Rolling deadlines a mere ten to fourteen weeks away, and I want them to be proactive and gearing up for the ride.

Having clients in New York City means 16-hour workdays for the next three months. Almost all of my students will have an early-something deadline. From August through October, I meet with students, review applications and writings online and have daily “calming” phone calls to soothe parental nerves.

Admittedly though, I am excited for this time of year. I desperately want my enthusiasm and energy to be contagious. I encourage my students to use this month, this last glimmer of late sleeping and long evenings, to create application accounts and enter in basic data while watching an evening baseball game. Once they do that I suggest that they can leave a printed copy of the CEO-produced supplemental essays on their kitchen tables and let their parents suggest ideas for questions like “Tell us about an experience in which you left your comfort zone. How did this experience change you?” (University of Richmond). And finally, I implore them to brainstorm, outline and write multiple drafts of the all-important personal essay without the hovering thought of a Physics Lab or TS Eliot paper.

I want my students to flourish within this process and learn more about who they are and which schools can help them to achieve their goals. I think August and not procrastinating can foster this. Will they produce final drafts of essays? Probably not, but starting now versus on October 10th with a November 15th deadline is preferable any day of the week.

Colleges Updated in College Essay Organizer for the 2011/2012 Application Season

Here is a list of colleges that have been updated for the 2011/2012 application season in College Essay Organizer through August 4th. Expect this list to continue to grow each week.

  1. Albright College
  2. Alfred University
  3. Alma College
  4. American University of Rome
  5. American University of Paris
  6. Amherst College
  7. Arizona State University
  8. Baldwin-Wallace College
  9. Bard College at Simon's Rock
  10. Bates College
  11. Benedict College
  12. Berea College
  13. Berklee College of Music
  14. Berry College
  15. Bloomfield College
  16. Boise State University
  17. Boston University
  18. Bowdoin College
  19. Bowling Green State University
  20. Bradley University
  21. Brevard College
  22. Brigham Young University-Provo
  23. Brown University
  24. Bryant University
  25. California College of the Arts
  26. California State University-Bakersfield
  27. Calvin College
  28. Campbell University
  29. Carnegie Mellon University
  30. Carroll University
  31. Christendom College
  32. Christian Brothers University in TN
  33. Claremont McKenna College
  34. Clark Atlanta University
  35. Clarkson University
  36. College of the Ozarks
  37. Colorado College
  38. Colorado School of Mines
  39. Columbia University
  40. Cornell University
  41. Dartmouth College
  42. Delaware State University
  43. Duke University
  44. Duquesne University
  45. Elon University
  46. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
  47. Emory and Henry College
  48. Erskine College
  49. Fairfield University
  50. Flagler College
  51. Florida Institute of Technology
  52. Florida State University
  53. Fordham University
  54. Franklin and Marshall College
  55. George Fox U
  56. Georgetown College
  57. Georgetown University
  58. Georgetown University
  59. Georgia College and State University
  60. Georgia Institue of Technology
  61. Georgia Southern University
  62. Gordon College
  63. Grinnell College
  64. Guilford College
  65. Hampton University
  66. Hanover College
  67. Harvard College
  68. Hastings College
  69. High Point University
  70. Hood College
  71. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  72. Iowa State University
  73. Kansas State University
  74. Kenyon College
  75. Lees-McRae College
  76. Lehigh University
  77. Lenoir-Rhyne University
  78. Longwood University
  79. Louisiana State University
  80. Louisiana Tech University
  81. Lynchburg College
  82. Lyon College
  83. Macaulay Honors
  84. Marshall University
  85. McDaniel College
  86. Middlebury College
  87. Mills College
  88. Mississippi College
  89. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  90. Morgan State University
  91. Murray State University
  92. Nebraska Wesleyan University
  93. New England College
  94. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  95. Norfolk State University
  96. Northwestern University
  97. Nova Southeastern University
  98. Ohio State University-Columbus
  99. Oklahoma State University
  100. Otterbein University
  101. Pacific Union College
  102. Paul Smith's College
  103. Pepperdine University
  104. Pitzer College
  105. Pomona College
  106. Post University
  107. Princeton University
  108. Principia College
  109. Ripon College
  110. Roanoke College
  111. Sacred Heart University
  112. Saint Joseph's University
  113. Saint Mary's College (CA)
  114. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  115. Saint Michael's College
  116. Sarah Lawrence College
  117. South Dakota State University
  118. Southwestern University
  119. Spelman College
  120. Springfield College
  121. St. Edward's University
  122. St. Mary's College of Maryland
  123. Stanford University
  124. Stephens College
  125. Sterling College
  126. Stevens Institute of Technology
  127. Swarthmore College
  128. Syracuse University
  129. Touro College
  130. Truman State University
  131. Tufts University
  132. Tusculum College
  133. Tuskegee University
  134. United States Air Force Academy
  135. University of Alabama-Huntsville
  136. University of Arizona
  137. University of California-Berkeley
  138. University of California-Davis
  139. University of California-Irvine
  140. University of California-Los Angeles
  141. University of California-Riverside
  142. University of California-San Diego
  143. University of California-Santa Barbara
  144. University of California-Santa Cruz
  145. University of Central Florida
  146. University of Chicago
  147. University of Cincinnati
  148. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  149. University of Colorado-Boulder
  150. University of Dayton
  151. University of Denver
  152. University of Florida
  153. University of Georgia
  154. University of Idaho
  155. University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  156. University of Iowa
  157. University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  158. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  159. University of Minnesota-Morris
  160. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  161. University of Mississippi
  162. University of Missouri-Columbia
  163. University of Missouri-Kansas city
  164. University of Montana
  165. University of Montevallo
  166. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  167. University of New Hampshire at Manchester
  168. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  169. University of North Dakota
  170. University of Notre Dame
  171. University of Oklahoma
  172. University of Pittsburgh
  173. University of Richmond
  174. University of San Diego
  175. University of South Dakota
  176. University of St. Thomas
  177. University of Tampa
  178. University of Texas-El Paso
  179. University of Virginia
  180. University of Washington-Seattle
  181. University of Wyoming
  182. Utah State University
  183. Valdosta State University
  184. Valparaiso University
  185. Vanderbilt University
  186. Wake Forest University
  187. Washington and Jefferson College
  188. Washington and Lee University
  189. Webb Institute
  190. Western Michigan University
  191. Wheaton College (IL)
  192. Wilkes University
  193. Wofford College
Colleges Updated in College Essay Organizer for the 2011/2012 Application Season

More Thoughts on Your Essays

Today's blog post is from Kathryn Miller, an independent educational consultant based in Englewood , CO,  who specializes in the college search and application process. A graduate of Northwestern University, Miller also received  a certificate in Educational Consulting from the University of California. You can learn more about Kathryn and her services at
Kathryn Miller

Kathryn Miller

Colleges want to get to know you as a person, in addition to your grades, test scores and activities. Essay writing, along with the entire college search process, is a time for self-discovery and reflection. It isn’t always easy to think about yourself in this way, but it can help you define what you are looking for in a school and what you will bring to a college community. Your essay is your opportunity to tell YOUR STORY. It lets them understand who you are, what you care about, and what is truly unique about YOU. Here are 10 more essay tips to keep in mind:

1. Write about what you know. Your topic may not be unique, but your approach and understanding of it is all your own.

2. Write about what you love. What motivates you? You are not just your resume. You have chosen to participate in activities or to learn new things for a reason.

3. Begin with the end in mind. Steven Covey coined this phrase in his popular book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”  Why are you telling this story? When someone reads your essay, what will they have learned about you?

4. Get their attention. Admissions people read hundreds, even thousands, of essays every year. They may be reading yours late at night after a long day of traveling. Grab the reader’s attention right away so that they want to know more about you.

5. Be honest. You may feel vulnerable by disclosing a characteristic or situation that was uncomfortable or you may want to embellish the truth. You need to be admitted to a college for who you are, so don’t be tempted to change that.

6. Answer the question. The Common Application’s Personal Essay gives you six choices, including “topic of your choice” to write about. The Short Answer gives you the opportunity to elaborate on your activities or work. The individual college supplements may challenge you with different questions, so read them thoughtfully before you write.

7. Read your essay out loud. Your essay should demonstrate your Own Voice. Does it really sound like you and who you really are? If you are funny, does that come across? If you aren’t funny, are you trying too hard?

8. Write.  Read.  Edit.  Repeat. If you are reading this, you are starting your essay in plenty of time to find the best topic and write about it in a way that really stands out. Don’t rush the process. It will take time, but you will be happier with the results!

9. Get help when you need it. Early in the process, you may want to ask your family and friends for stories about you or observations they may have. After you have worked on writing what you know is a good essay, ask your parent or teacher to read it for feedback only if you are willing to accept constructive criticism.

10. And, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to…. Keep word or character limits under control (more is not better); spell check; grammar check; quote check; fact check; college name check; and don’t use too many semi-colons!

New Common App Updates For 2011/2012

The Common App has gone live for the new application season and we are doing the necessary legwork to confirm all currently available requirements, including optional, departmental, and scholarship ones.

Though the Common App has updated, not all schools that accept the Common App have currently released their supplements, so over the next few weeks, you will notice that the number of schools that are current for the new year will be increasing each day.

We appreciate the positive feedback we've been getting from our users this year! There have been a lot of great accounts of how College Essay Organizer has helped students, counselors, and parents in the admissions process, and we're always glad to hear them. Keep them coming!

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Harvard University Returns To Early Action for 2012

Harvard Shield

November 1 comes quickly, little crimsonites.

In 2007, Harvard eliminated its Early Action program and required that everyone send in applications on the same date, January 1st, but this year, it returns to Early Action, with the first round of applications due on November 1, 2011.

The move in 2007 was seen as a reaction against the increasingly competitive admissions environment in America, and many applauded the effort. But other popular schools took this as a competitive advantage and did not follow suit, so Harvard has done its applicants a favor by sparing them the difficult choice of a binding decision from another school when they'd really like to take a shot at Harvard.

Early Action and Early Decision programs certainly increase the pressure on students and parents alike - decisions are often made with a limited amount of information and on very short timetables, but they have their upsides for schools, allowing them to increase yields and fill large portions of their classes with students that are sure to attend.

This decision - coming from the top, as it were - should be read as a firm statement that Early Action and Early Decsion programs are here to stay. Get your work done as early as you can, do your homework, and learn as much as you can about your top choices before committing to your number one school.

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The Common App for 2011/2012 is Live

That's right. The wait is over.

The Common App went live yesterday officially beginning the application process for the class of 2016. The Common App, now totaling 456 schools, has added 45 new members this year, including Caldwell College, Howard University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

College Essay Organizer is now in the thick of the updating process, keeping track of all the new changes and supplemental essay questions for you. Expect hundreds of updates by the end of the week!

We continue to receive feedback on how College Essay Organizer is the perfect partner for using the Common App. It instantly delivers not only the supplemental essay questions, but also the department-specific questions and scholarship questions, which are often not included in the Common App. Check here for some great tips on how to use College Essay Organizer and the Common App to write winning essays.

Fox Searchlight's Another Earth, and the Power of the Essay

Fox Searchlight's Another Earth

Another Earth, starring Brit Marling

The remarkable new film ANOTHER EARTH, which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and is currently expanding around the country, hinges, funnily enough, on an essay. Brit Marling plays Rhoda, a young girl stricken with grief after driving drunk shortly after being accepted into M.I.T., and killing all but one member of a young family in a crash.

After serving a four-year prison sentence, Rhoda is released, and finds that the "little blue dot" that had appeared in the night sky on the same night of her accident has crept closer to Earth and revealed itself as a mirror world to our own. It has the same geography, the same environment, and even the same people, all living parallel lives to those on Earth.

Soon enough, a contest emerges, put together by a Richard Branson-like entrepreneur who wants to allow a normal person to be among the first to travel to Earth II. The application to go revolves around a 500-word essay, and Rhoda focuses on her prison time in her application. She wins.

What we found amusing was that the tack Rhoda chooses for her essay makes all the difference, which actually felt very true. Rhoda, like any good college applicant, chose from among her specific life experiences and painted herself as the ideal candidate. She did it not by focusing on her own desire to be on Earth II (something that she shared with all the other applicants), but by focusing on the one thing that made her distinct from the others she'd be judged against. Few things are more important than this when choosing your essay topic. You've got to make an effort to stand apart from the pack.

The film's sci-fi elements hang over every scene, but what drives the drama is the interpersonal connection between Rhoda and her one surviving victim. The way in which this very small film is able to engage audiences on both a micro and an interplanetary level should not be lost on us. The shocking truth of your unique emotional responses to everyday scenarios can carry an unforgettable strength, even for complete strangers. Commit to those instances in your life in which you felt something powerful and you may be surprised how far these pieces of writing can take you.

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