Live Webcast Tomorrow, Sep 9 - 'Letting Colleges Know You Dig Them'

Colleges have recently started focusing way more on how much students express interest in attending their institutions. In some cases, a student's sincere interest may play a crucial role in the final admission decision. Learn how colleges gauge your commitment and discover strategies for establishing a strong record of student interest so colleges know you genuinely care.

Steven Mercer is the founder of Mercer Educational Consulting, a private college counseling practice based in Los Angeles, with clients across the globe. He is an experienced educator with a background in selective college admission, counseling, teaching, and academic and non-profit leadership.

If you attend, you could win a FREE essay review!

WHEN: Tuesday, September 9 @ 8pm ET

To register, log into your account and upgrade to ExpertAccess. For just $49, you will connect with live experts and gain access to our archive of past webcasts. Each college application you submit will cost more than this one-time fee, so give yourself the competitive edge with ExpertAccess.

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Live Webcast Tonight, Aug 5 - 'College Essays Done Right'

Most high school students struggle with writing. And even those who are strong writers don't always know the difference between a great essay and a great admissions essay. Dan Stern, founder of College Essay Organizer, has helped tens of thousands of students write their way into their #1 choice colleges. Join this webcast to get insider tips you won't learn anywhere else so that you can have the competitive edge.

If you attend, you could win a FREE essay review!

WHEN: Tuesday, Aug 5 @ 8pm ET

To register, log into your account and upgrade to ExpertAccess. For just $49, you will connect with live experts and gain access to our archive of past webcasts. Each college application you submit will cost more than this one-time fee, so give yourself the competitive edge with ExpertAccess.

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Has the Common App Resolved its Issues for the 2014-2015 Application Season?

common-app-picLast year the Common App experienced an unprecedented number of issues leaving students struggling to complete their applications and resulting in numerous colleges extending their deadlines. The Common App has since promised to promptly resolve its glitches and create a less stressful user experience.

So how is the Common App measuring up so far for the 2014-2015 application season? While it experienced supplements for some schools appearing and disappearing when it first went live three hours before the expected August 1 midnight opening, it has since become stable, and for the first time in its history, many of the colleges' supplements were available on August 1 (though many are still unavailable!). Log into your College Essay Organizer account to see which schools have questions available. Here are a few remaining issues to look out for:

  • If you save your writing supplement with all the questions completed and you later try to go back and edit it, the text boxes sometimes disappear (for all schools) and you have to log in again.
  • Some questions don't specify required vs. optional on the supplement, but on the sidebar a check mark will appear on your writing supplement tab when all required questions have been filled out. If an optional question is left blank, it will still be checked. If a required question is left blank, it will remain unchecked.
  • On the dashboard, it will say a supplement is not required (indicated by a red dash), but when you click on the member questions, it will say the questions are not yet available. This is happening in schools that do have supplemental questions, so be sure to keep checking back for the supplement and check with the college to double-check if there are supplemental questions.
  • When a link to an outside page is embedded into a question, and it is clicked, the Common App throws up an error page, so you may have to copy and paste links into a browser window.
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Shedding Light on Oversharing

This label will not help you get in.

This label will not help you get in.

Students now grow up revealing personal details on social media sites, often becoming desensitized to the impact of the information posted. Fast forward to the college application process where students are pressured into finding a way to stand out among thousands of other applicants.

The result is the temptation for students to overshare intimate details of their lives in the attempt to grab the attention of admissions officers. While taking a risk can often set a student apart, the type of information shared must be carefully considered. Definitely get feedback from others before going down this path to make sure that you are leaving a positive impact on your reader. This recent article in the New York Times expertly illustrates the pitfalls of oversharing. Here's a story shared by one of Yale's former admissions officers about a girl who sabotaged her application by giving too much information:

"The Yale applicant had terrific test scores. She had fantastic grades...Then he got to her essay. As he remembers it, she mentioned a French teacher she greatly admired. She described their one-on-one conversation at the end of a school day. And then, this detail: During their talk, when an urge to go to the bathroom could no longer be denied, she decided not to interrupt the teacher or exit the room. She simply urinated on herself."

Don't Miss Our Exclusive Webinar for Educational Consultants -- The New Season Has Officially Begun!

The Common App glitches last year created an incredibly stressful, confusing time for many. Fortunately, our proactive, meticulous approach ensured a successful college essay experience for hundreds of consultants and we're eager to take that to a new level this season. Most IECs have already started with College Essay Organizer for this year, so don't wait -- get started now:

Existing members using us directly -- start here
New members using us directly -- start here
CollegePlannerPro members can email us directly to order in bulk -- you'll save money this way! Simply indicate how many student accounts you want.

Join Our Webinar To Kick Off The 2014-2015 Season

Attend our webinar to learn the insider tips and get answers to your questions:

For members using us through CollegePlannerPro: Thursday, June 5 @ 12 noon ET -- Click here to register now

For members using us directly: Tuesday, June 10 @ 12 noon ET -- Click here to register now

The Common App & College Essay Organizer

Here's a snapshot of how we do things that no other site, including the Common App, does. A few highlights are listed below:

1 - We won't wait until August 1. We will continue to update essay questions before Aug 1 and notify you of these updates instantly. Last year, through our special protocol, we updated more than 300 schools prior to Aug 1 and we expect to be just as aggressive and ensure 100% accuracy once again this season.

2 - We'll give you all the essay questions for different programs and departments in one easy place. The Common App promised last year to provide all program-specific questions via each Writing Supplement. They weren't even close! Not only did they have hidden or "stealth" essay questions that made things incredibly confusing and cumbersome, but they also failed to provide hundreds of essay questions required for applicants to particular programs and departments. We will provide them all in one place -- instantly. No one else can boast this!

3 - We've got all the scholarship essay questions the Common App doesn't. The Common App has never listed scholarship essay questions for the colleges and has no plans to do so now. But, as always, we'll have them for you. College Essay Organizer had more than 1,000 scholarship essay questions last season, and that number will continue to grow.

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National Decision Day is Today

Congratulations on making it this far!

Congratulations on making it this far!

Seniors have until today, May 1, to let colleges know if they will be part of their incoming class this fall. For some students, the decision is easy, while others may still be grappling with a last-minute decision. If that's you, don't panic! Take a deep breath, be thankful that you have choices, and know that wherever you decide, you will make the best of what the school has to offer, and ultimately be happy there or at least learn how to be resourceful. And if things don't work out the way you envision, transferring (or for the most ambitious graduating early) is always an option.

Take a moment to read this post on how one student made his decision to attend UC Berkeley. Whatever your decision turned out to be, last minute or not, congratulations on making it this far, and give yourself some much needed time to relax!






College Essay Organizer Discussed on Fox News

fox_news_logo_a_lSince the College Board announced that it's revamping the SAT in 2016, there have been questions about what the most important factors are in the college admissions process. Scott Farber, co-founder of College Essay Organizer, recently addressed this stating that colleges place equal weight on standardized test scores and grades, with essays following closely behind.

Don't miss this Fox News interview where Farber also mentions College Essay Organizer, created to give students the edge on their essays and enhance students' ability to tell their story in their own unique way. The stories that students write continue to increase in importance and are most often the deciding factor between two students with similar grades and test scores.



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Dealing with College Rejection Letters: How Parents Can Help

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

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

While there may be one applicant that you know who was accepted to all of her colleges, this is by far the exception. For most, there will be a mix of acceptances and rejections to process. How can parents help? Of course, it depends on the student. For some, simply stepping back and giving some breathing room is all that's needed. For others, a more hands on approach is required to help soothe those open wounds. Here are a few tips for parents laid out by writing coach Julie Fingersh.

  • Don't try to explain it away, but meet your child where he or she is. Rejection is tough for anyone, but getting rejected from a dream college might feel like a student's whole future hopes have been crushed. The first step is to simply acknowledge how bad it feels.
  • Tell your own related stories of rejection. Sharing that you aren't perfect and have also struggled and lived to tell about it can help your child to find the silver lining in the situation.
  • Try to tease apart "reality vs. appearance." While this may look and feel bad to your child, the reality is that college does not define a person, nor does it determine one's future. A few well-chosen facts may come in handy when your child is ready to listen. Here's one to keep in your toolbox: "A 2014 Gallup poll found that when it comes to hiring, a mere 9 percent of U.S. business leaders ranked where a candidate went to college as 'very important.'"
  • Once the sting has lessened, share this article on what makes people stronger. If it's well-timed, it will help to put things back in perspective and enable your child to start to make the most of the options that are available.
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Most Popular Scholarship Programs

scholarship question

If you spend too much time thinking about it, you'll never get it done.

There are loads of scholarship programs out there, so it's always good to try your hand at a few that may be a good fit. After all, there's nothing to lose, especially if you already applied or you got in early. College Essay Organizer includes hundreds of scholarship questions in its database, and we rounded up a few of the most popular ones that students are applying to along with some of their thought-provoking essay questions.

Merit-based scholarships at Emory College of Arts & Sciences, Oxford College and the Goizueta Business School require one of the following:

  • A) "The future belongs to the discontented." Robert W. Woodruff -- Just thirty-three years old when he took command of The Coca-Cola Company in 1923, Emory alumnus, Robert W. Woodruff shaped the fledgling soft drink enterprise and its bottler franchise system into a corporate giant with the world's most widely known trademark. During the next six decades, Mr. Woodruff established a remarkable record as a global leader and philanthropist. Describe how this quote resonates with you.
  • B) “The cynics will tell you that the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Just do it anyway.” Roberto C. Goizueta -- The Goizueta Business School is honored to take its name from Roberto C. Goizueta, who demonstrated a level of personal and professional courage throughout his lifetime that has ensured his legacy as one of the most respected business leaders of the 20th century. As a future business leader, what is the good you would like to contribute in the world, and why?

The Dean’s Scholarship in Business at Washington University in St. Louis:

  • What is the world’s most pressing problem and how should business contribute to the solution?

The Lillis Scholarship at University of Puget Sound:

  • A primary objective of the Lillis Scholarship is to encourage intellectual independence. To illustrate your own intellectual independence and ability to integrate it into your life, please provide the selection committee with an original essay in which you respond to the following prompt: Describe an intellectual idea that has transformed your thinking.

The Trustee Scholarship at Boston University requires one of the following:

  • A) Recent disclosures have revealed that the US government maintains a database that logs all American telephone calls and actively collects the contents of large numbers of domestic and foreign emails. National security officials have testified that these once-secret programs have disrupted more than 50 “potential terrorist events.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a suit against the Obama administration demanding an end to this surveillance, contending that it “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.” In your opinion, what are the considerations in determining how much domestic surveillance is warranted to prevent possible terrorist attacks? Do you agree with the ACLU’s position or that of the government? Where do you draw the line regarding data collection and when this should be prohibited?
  • B) According to Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, scientists will soon be able to perform genetic testing to determine an individual’s likelihood of developing 25 major diseases such as cancer, arterial sclerosis, and diabetes. Similar in-vitro testing will be available as well, permitting parents to know the probability of debilitating—as well as “undesirable”—traits in fertilized eggs before they are implanted in the womb. What are the arguments against making such information widely available? Do you agree or disagree with these arguments?
  • C) Responding to the overwhelming amount of facts, information, and opinions that come to us though our electronic devices, the author Pico Iyer has written: “The only way to do justice to our onscreen lives is by summoning exactly the emotional and moral clarity that can’t be found on any screen.” Do you agree with this statement? Why?

College Admissions Officers Look for Red Flags

While you spend this last week preparing and perfecting your remaining college applications, be sure that the content will not raise any red flags with admissions officers. Any glaring inconsistencies in your applications will definitely end you up in the rejections pile no matter how high your test scores or how magnificent your prose. Here are a few situations outlined in this article written by Andrew Belasco that you should definitely avoid:

  • Your resume states that you had the lead role in a play while your drama teacher's recommendation praises your abilities as a stagehand.
  • Your SAT writing score is in the 400s, but your admissions essay is as perfectly written as they come.
  • You mention that you volunteer 20 hours per week at a nursing home, but you play three varsity sports, take 4 AP classes, and edit the school paper.
  • You claim that you are passionate about political science, but you did not take your school's AP Government course. If your interest recently developed, clearly share your story in the essays.

As Belasco writes, "Colleges want to see a real human being capable of communicating their passions and actual life experience. Be genuine. In the world of college admissions, an honest stagehand is always a more marketable applicant than a fraudulent lead player."