Turning a Personal Experience Into the Perfect College Essay

It's hard to go wrong when writing about a meaningful experience

Students face all kinds of situations growing up, but the best kind of story is when someone can overcome and move beyond a significant challenge in his or her life. Through his own courage and determination, high school senior Daniel Altman was able to overcome a stutter, which he had struggled with since the age of two, through his work as a Production Assistant working on an Independent Film.

This is especially inspirational, because Daniel was also able to turn his personal success into an inspirational college essay, which got him accepted into his first choice college. Find the complete essay here.

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More Answers to More Educational Consultant Questions

Yesterday, we posted the first part of our Q&A series addressing common questions asked by educational consultants who want to learn more about College Essay Organizer. We will continue to post additional questions in the days to come, but if you happen to have a question that you do not see, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to help you.


4. Students often choose not to apply to schools on their original lists. Will it be possible to make changes to the list of schools for each student?

Each account allows a maximum of 25 college selections. The Essay RoadMap allows for colleges to be selected and de-selected, and will automatically provide an updated essay writing plan based on the student's most current list.


5. How can College Essay Organizer enhance independent consultants who pride themselves on their 'high-touch' services?

College Essay Organizer is designed to increase the quality of 'high-touch' services. Researching and organizing essay questions on your own (or having your clients do it) wastes valuable time and opens up the possibility of overlooking program-specific, optional, and scholarship questions, which are usually not included on schools' regular applications or the Common App.

With College Essay Organizer, speed and accuracy are taken care of, and you can focus your energies on high-level essay responsibilities like brainstorming the best topics and editing drafts. This optimizes the real value you bring as a consultant and eliminates the tedious, time-consuming work involved in looking up essay questions and designing a personalized essay plan.

Our new note-taking and essay uploading features will make this process even easier, allowing you to use College Essay Organizer as your one-stop source for the college essay process.


6. How can I be sure that College Essay Organizer's data will be updated quickly and accurately?

We consider accuracy our top priority. Occasionally there will be a slight delay between the time an essay question is made available by a college and when it appears on our site, but we closely monitor all the universities in our database and upload their essay questions as soon as they have been released publicly and verified by our staff.

Our stellar track record for speed and accuracy speaks for itself, and this season we will continue to work hard to ensure that new essay questions are uploaded as early as possible.

Unfortunately, university admissions departments do not always post accurate information. In 2010, many colleges posted essay questions that contradicted different versions of their own applications. Ultimately, College Essay Organizer helped to resolve these issues for its users, and for the colleges who were unaware of their discrepancies. We plan to have even more researchers this year further increasing speed and accuracy.



Answers To Educational Consultant Questions

Educational Consultants often want to learn more about how College Essay Organizer can assist them in their businesses, saving them time and money, and increasing their ability to market themselves to new students. Below is the first of a Q&A series that will help educational consultants in deciding how College Essay Organizer can best serve them. As always, we are available to answer any other questions you may have. You can email us at [email protected] and we will respond as quickly as possible.


1. Is College Essay Organizer appropriate for all students?

College Essay Organizer is a time-saving tool regardless of where a student is applying. It instantly delivers all of the questions for any student's selected schools -- and for students applying to schools with few or no essay questions, College Essay Organizer helps them confidently know that a certain college does not have any essay questions, as sometimes it takes hours of looking to determine this.

Moreover, many colleges that don't have required supplemental essay questions for traditional applicants do have required questions for students applying to specific programs or departments. Most students are not aware of this, find out too late, and end up rushing to write mediocre essays in order to make their deadlines.

Finally, an increasing number of universities, especially state schools, offer a multitude of scholarship essay questions that appeal to all demographics, even those who do not require financial aid. College Essay Organizer now features hundreds of such questions, and the list is growing.


2. Can you help me place a value on College Essay Organizer?

Based on our research, the value of College Essay Organizer far exceeds our current price point. With College Essay Organizer, consultants save several hours per student, which means much less work required for the same number of billable hours. During the busy application season, this means your efficiency in setting up new clients skyrockets.

In fact, many consultants have found that if they share a sample College Essay Organizer report with potential clients, it often convinces clients that they could not possibly manage this process on their own without enduring excessive stress and confusion.

College Essay Organizer also finds program-specific essays that aren't included in schools' applications or on the Common App -- these questions tend to get overlooked or are discovered late in the game. Rather than spending hours seeking these out or losing your credibility when clients recognize that you've failed to address them, you can have them all delivered instantly through College Essay Organizer.

College Essay Organizer also provides a multitude of scholarship essays that can mean thousands of dollars in additional money for applicants.

With our feature that allows you and your clients to upload and edit essay drafts within the College Essay Organizer platform, you won't have to email multiple drafts back and forth for multiple students.

The alternative to using College Essay Organizer is researching all the questions on your own or assigning this task to your clients, which may lead to incomplete and inaccurate results, not to mention frustrated students and parents. It also means resorting to the cumbersome process of emailing drafts back and forth dozens, even hundreds of times.

We offer various promotional discounts via our partner sites throughout the year and post new discount codes on our blog regularly, giving you many opportunities to make College Essay Organizer an even more valuable part of your business.


3. What new features have been added to College Essay Organizer?

Our recent upgrades include making the RoadMap so much easier to interpret, adding note-taking and essay uploading features, and providing a checkbox that allows you to know whether or not an essay has been completed. We have also added the ability for educational consultants to co-brand their accounts and have increased the number of college selections to 25 per student in addition to enhancing site speed overall.

We will be holding weekly webinars for members, covering various essay topics, guidance on how to make the most of College Essay Organizer accounts, and Q&A for answers to specific questions.

Finally, all independent consultants who are College Essay Organizer members will be able to guest blog on our heavily trafficked site, expanding their reach to potential new clients.

If there is ever anything that you would like to see added to College Essay Organizer, please let us know. Your feedback drives us to be better!


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Essay on Family Values

Colleges may ask you to describe your family, but what they are often trying to understand is the type of values your family hold. This student creatively responds to the question by not only talking about his family, but also his friends and the way he views others with an open mind. 

Every high school has its stereotypical cliques. The jocks, the nerds, the popular ones, and on and on. I have always found these labels so narrow-minded and unfair. I move comfortably from one group to another, always at ease with whom I am among. But some friends don’t understand this. Sometimes I am with a friend and am told that I can’t bring him to some get-together going on elsewhere. I either defend my friend or simply don’t meet up with the others, but I would never abandon him. Respect is the cornerstone of any true friendship, and I have always valued the differences that others embody.

Differences are what I am all about. My father is a French-Lebanese immigrant who moved to the United States in 1979, while my mother is a native Brazilian who came to the US in 1978. They both arrived in America eager to explore their new opportunities and discover different parts of their existing identities, and this hunger for adventure and possibility has been cultivated in me.

Their upbringings have created vast distinctions between my home life and that of my friends. My parents’ cultural backgrounds stress a greater emphasis on the family unit, whereas my friends tend to be pushed into more individualistic roles that prioritize the importance of doing things on their own.

Then there is also the matter of travel. I have visited many different countries and every vacation must be a family trip. We’re more travelers than tourists, looking to experience different nations and peoples from the inside perspective. I’m sure this is largely because of my experience going so often to Brazil. I travel there yearly, spending two or three months there each year. As a Brazilian citizen fluent in Portuguese, with family in Rio de Janeiro, I am able to mingle with the culture from the inside.

This diverse background, especially in the most multicultural city in the world, has given me a very unique perspective on life. When many people mention the term “diversity,” it is often just a concept or a word. It has little relevance to their actual lives. For me, diversity is my life, and this diversity of background has opened me to political movements, social ideas, and personal attitudes that more traditional Americans might not be receptive to. As a result, I am able to look beyond a limited perspective and consider issues in more global terms.


U.C.L.A.’s Admissions Mistake Disappoints Hundreds of Students

University of California, Los Angeles representatives have issued an apology for sending an email to 894 wait-listed students congratulating them on their acceptance. The press release said: “UCLA has not yet accepted any students on the wait-list. Decisions on wait-listed students will be made after May 1, and the UCLA Admissions Office will communicate with students directly in this regard.”

This is not the first time a college has emailed false acceptance letters. Both Vassar College and University of Delaware experienced computer glitches when notifying applicants. While technology has enabled students to receive admissions decisions in a more timely way, it is important to be aware of the possibility of a mistake occurring.

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College Admissions Advice

Who is dealing with it better? You or your parents?

With seniors recently receiving their admissions decisions from their colleges, there are lots of stressed out kids and, perhaps, even more stressed out parents. J.D. Rothman, a television comedy writer and Emmy award winner, found herself in this boat when her two sons were going through the college application process. Her solution to this problem was to start a blog, The Neurotic Parent, which offers advice to other neurotic parents on how to survive the process.

Her latest post, entitled “Why your brilliant child didn’t get into the ivies,” helps parents understand or at least see the humor in their child’s rejection. Her final explanation definitely helps take the weight off of parents’ shoulders: “The admissions people, who say they consider each applicant ‘holistically’ and pay no attention to who needs financial aid, are actually sitting in a room eating pizza and throwing darts. So find solace in the fact that they've rejected your brilliant child for no good reason at all.“

Essay on a Personal Value

Personal values are qualities that represent your priorities and highest motivations. Asking about personal values allows colleges to gain insight into the traits that students hold dear. This student wrote the essay below when colleges asked him to describe one of his personal values. He also used it in modified form to address such essay topics as adversity, personal trait/identity, community, diversity, social issue, and greatest accomplishment, among others. The key is to interpret the questions creatively and apply them to your own personal characteristics.

Grapes, box scores, and musical fugues – not a list of things commonly associated with one another but, in my life, these items are forever linked.

One day, as I was sitting in my highchair, pretending to be king of all babies perched on my throne, my parents decided to interrupt my fantasy for a meal. A bowl of voluptuous grapes was placed before me. "How many grapes are there, Joshie?" my mom asked. "Ten!" When she took three away, I counted seven. And with that, my passion for numbers took its alpha step into what would become a lifelong pursuit of numerical wisdom, a love I have always referred to as The Grapes Of Math.

The eminent physicist Richard Feynman once remarked that, in order to do multiplication, all one needs is to know how to count. I proved this concept a few years later. My dad, recognizing my early proficiency for addition and subtraction, and my early passion for all things athletic, decided to test my knack for multiplication with batting averages and box scores in the New York Times.

Perhaps the only other activity in my life that conjures up such passion for me is music. From the age of three, I sang the concluding prayers at my synagogue. Congregants would tell me what a beautiful voice I had, but I never believed them. As I got older, my confidence as a singer began to grow and I joined a small choral group in fourth grade. Unfortunately, by fifth grade, my voice experienced that inevitable adolescent mutiny and I became embarrassed to continue in the chorus.

Last year, several juniors at my school performed at Fugue Night to an audience of peers and parents. I composed a fugue and helped perform another. Our music teacher, who happened also to be the chorus director, heard me sing and told me that I had an amazing ear and great voice. At her urging, I auditioned for chorus, and, with her support, I became one of 15 students chosen for the school’s prestigious chamber choir.

Just as my “grapes of math” have aged, so too has my passion for math. As I have learned more, math has become more exquisite and flavorful to me. Similarly, musical tastes change with age, and my musical development has seen me evolve from a carefree singer, to an insecure one, to a skilled one, to an educational one. For a while, music represented a suppression of a love, for which I struggled internally with self-doubt. But it always remained inside me; a true passion, after all, cannot be kept silent for long.

April Admissions Calendar Released

Now is the time to start planning for the college application process.

For those juniors eager to keep on track with the admissions process, The NY Times Choice Blog just posted its April Checklist. Here are a few important items to keep on your radar:

Continuing the search: Now is the time to keep working on your college list. Look out for college fairs, open houses, and opportunities to visit colleges.

Think about money: Make sure to consider your financial situation and the types of aid available when thinking about your college list.

Plan when to take standardized tests: Be sure to research which tests you need to take. Some colleges require SAT IIs in addition to the SAT or ACT, so make sure not to leave those requirements for the last minute.

Start to think about your essays: The Common App will be releasing a preview of the application mid-April. This offers a great opportunity to get those 2 required essays out of the way early.

Get feedback from seniors and counselors: Make sure that you’re getting all the advice and information you need from seniors who have just been through the process and from counselors who can help you decide how to best strengthen your resume for your senior year.

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Essay on a Person of Influence

In an effort for colleges to better understand you as a person beyond grades and test scores, they may invite students to write about important influences in their lives. Below is a student's response when asked to describe a person who influenced him in a meaningful way.

Sometimes you find your inspiration where you least expect it. I found mine in Mr. Glick, my high school’s long-time vocal teacher. Given my love of math and science, I certainly did not walk into his class in seventh grade expecting anything more than a few hours a week listening to and learning about music. Instead, I found a new passion, singing, and a teacher who, through the zeal and energy he brought to each moment in class, served as a standard against which I could measure my own efforts.

My growing love for singing has led me to audition and become a part of Mr. Glick’s most selective choir group, the A Cappella singers. Singing without the aid of any instruments, turning our combined voices into the instruments themselves, is difficult work. It requires trust, teamwork, and the willingness to take risks, because any one person out of tune will ruin the sound. When everyone works together, though, the sound that is produced is simply amazing.

Through his boundless enthusiasm for music and tireless zest for teaching, Mr. Glick has been an indirect inspiration to me since seventh grade. As my vocal teacher and my advisor (a title similar to that of homeroom teacher), he has also directly encouraged me to seek out the camaraderie, solidarity, and shared passion I experience in choir through other activities. Sports turned out to be a natural outlet for me, and I was amazed to find the same sense of intuitive and collaborative bond with my school football and basketball teams as I did in choir.

The pleasure of being part of a community defines much of my time spent in high school. This feeling of connectedness to others, of having learned from and supported others in our common path toward a shared goal, is largely the result of finding myself in Mr. Glick’s music class five years ago. Now, as a senior in the A Capella choir who is also on the varsity football and basketball teams, I am fortunate to be part of such a wonderful high school family that I helped create.

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All IECA Members Receive a Free Student Account

Through our strategic partnership with IECA, we are excited to remind you that all IECA members and associate members will receive one FREE student account each application season when you purchase directly through College Essay Organizer. Get your free 2014/2015 student account today.

If you do NOT yet have a College Essay Organizer master account

  1. Click here and create your Independent Consultant account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Enter "1" for the number of student accounts, and then enter promo code iecafree3 (all lowercase letters) and press the tab key. Do not enter any credit card information.
  3. You can purchase additional student accounts from within your account later if you choose.

If you already have a College Essay Organizer master account

  1. Simply email us at [email protected] to request your freebie.
  2. We'll add 1 student account to your existing master account.

Join the hundreds of independent consultants who are saving hours of time and working smarter with our easy-to-use web tool. New users will discover in less than a minute the tremendous benefits of our technology, and existing users can experience our new upgrades.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not College Essay Organizer is for you, click here to learn more.

If you have any questions, call 646-448-4927, or email [email protected].

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