First Essay Questions Released for 2014-2015 College Application Season

chicagoColleges strive to make the application season less stressful, and releasing essay questions early is one of the best ways that they can do that. Isn't it great knowing that you have three months to work on your essays before school starts up again?

For those of you who have already nailed this year's Common App essay, and are eagerly awaiting your supplemental essays, put University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virgina, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill colleges on your list. You can sign in to your College Essay Organizer account and get started on your supplemental essays now!

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How to Make the Most of Your Time While Waiting to Hear From Colleges

This is probably not the best attitude to take.

Now that you've finally gotten in all your applications, you may be thinking that the hardest part is over, but many students actually end up struggling most with the last stage of the college admissions process: waiting. It can be difficult to relax knowing that admissions officers are reviewing your applications, and gearing up to make a decision that will affect the direction your life will take. Here's an article with some practical suggestions on how to make the most of your next few months.

  • Keep busy. The more active you become, the less focused you'll be on the future. Dive into an activity that you love or discover a new passion. One applicant threw herself into acting: “After I applied to all my colleges, at the strong encouragement of my friends, I auditioned for the school musical! I had auditioned in my freshman year but focused on other activities for the rest of high school to put on my resume. I got in and it was one of the best experiences of my high school career!"
  • Get to know your colleges better. Since you don't have a lot of time to make a decision once you receive your notification letters from colleges, now is the time to do more research on the colleges you applied to, and even plan a trip to any you haven't yet visited.
  • Apply to scholarships. While most college deadlines have past, scholarship application deadlines are often later in January or February. Now is the time to turn your focus to writing those scholarship essays, and be sure to check your College Essay Organizer accounts to easily find them.
  • Finish the year off strong. You've come this far, and while it may be tempting to turn your attention away from your schoolwork, stay focused. You never know which colleges will be monitoring your academic performance, and it just feels good to end on a high note. According to one applicant, "“Although you may be out soon, you owe it to yourself after all those great college applications to end high school with a bang."
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Last-Minute Essay Writing Tips

Despite our pleas to students to start their essays early, even during the summer before their senior year, there are always students who for whatever reason are unable to get a head start, or even a timely start. And here we are, entering the final week before the January 1 deadline, and students are continuing to upgrade their College Essay Organizer accounts in order to seek out some last-minute advice on how to write a standout essay, and more importantly, on how to get started writing.

The New York Times Choice Blog is also dishing out advice for late-blooming applicants. Definitely refer to this post by Daniel Grayson, associate director of undergraduate admissions at Tufts University, if you fall into that category. We've included a few highlights to help inspire and motivate you to put your best foot forward.  After all, you haven't worked this hard for the last four years to fizzle out so close to the finish line.

  • Don't be afraid to be different: "Being honest and forceful about yourself may make some adults around you nervous; it’s not “safe.” They will worry that you are being too controversial or informal. You should listen carefully and try to see your writing from their perspective. But you should feel comfortable ignoring advice that does not feel right."
  • Think from the point of view of the college: "We want to fill our seats with students who have things to say, who will challenge conventions and advance conversations, who will learn from each other."
  • Stand up for what you believe in: "You need to be confident and proud enough to stand behind those ideas because if you won’t, why would an admissions officer choose to stand behind you?"


What's Next for Seniors

You've applied early. Now what?

Now that many seniors have submitted their early applications, what's next? The New York Times Choice Blog has posted a helpful checklist for seniors. While it's good to take a moment and breathe a sigh of relief that this important step is complete, there are other things that need attention:

  • Review your list of colleges one more time. You can always change your mind or make additions to your list.
  • Make sure to work on the applications for the schools that you will be applying to if you don't get in early. Don't wait till you hear back from those schools to get started. Nobody wants to spend their winter break scrambling to finish their essays and complete their applications.
  • Keep your teachers and counselors informed of your plans to apply to more colleges.
  • Keep your school grades up so you can finish your senior year on a high note.

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Columbia University Extends Early Decision Deadlines

Students interested in applying to Columbia College or Columbia's School of Engineering may have received an email notifying them of extended Early Decision deadlines:

"If you are interested in applying Early Decision to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering, please note that we are extending that deadline to Monday, November 5th given the inclement weather expected this week. We hope this helps to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you might be feeling as the storm approaches your region."

Be sure to keep an eye out for other colleges who may have extended deadlines due to the storm, or reach out to schools if you feel that the storm will affect your ability to complete your application. And for those students safely holed up inside with a day off from school, try using the extra time to your advantage to polish off those essays and double-check your applications.

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Early Application Deadlines Looming

The tension is mounting for tens of thousands of seniors applying early to their first-choice schools. November 1, a popular early deadline, is looming just around the corner, and students are scrambling to polish their essays and send off their applications. Other students are worrying about their test scores, and wondering whether or not they will be good enough.

The New York Times' Choice Blog is answering common questions about the application process this week, and regarding test scores, Kathryn Juric, vice president of the SAT program, advises, "The most important thing for students and families to keep in mind is that college entrance exams represent only one part of your overall college application." Jon Erickson, president of the educational division at the ACT, adds that in cases where a student feels that her scores are not reflective of the rest of her accomplishments, she can explore the following: "retaking the test, after more thorough academic preparation; highlighting other aspects of her academic profile (personal recommendations, course work, grades, other accomplishments); and, if the opportunity exists, meeting personally with an admission officer to demonstrate her personal qualities." We, at College Essay Organizer, also know that using your essays to show who you are can be the most important way to stand out even if your scores fall short.

For more questions and answers on the college admissions process, click here.

Get your college essay questions answered by the expert - FREE Webinar

We know students have lots of questions about their college essays. Now is the chance to get your own questions answered and discover how to write truly compelling essays that get you accepted to your top-choice schools.  

This one-hour webinar with the founder of College Essay Organizer will be an open forum, so prepare all your questions in advance. For example, are you curious if the essay topic you chose is a great one? Struggling to figure out how to answer a particular question? Wondering if and how to use the Common App Additional Information space? 

The webinar will be held today, October 23, at 8pm EST. Click this link to reserve your spot (space is limited, so register now): 

One lucky participant will be selected to receive personalized feedback on his/her essay. 

If you work for a school or educational organization, feel free to attend our webinar and/or forward this invitation to seniors and their parents.

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Best Practices Webinar for IECs Using College Essay Organizer

It's almost the November deadline for early applications, which means it's time to start turning to all those other apps and essays so that if any client doesn't get accepted in December, you can mobilize quickly.

Many consultants find that College Essay Organizer is most valuable when they're managing multiple colleges with multiple essays. So attend Tuesday's webinar in order to:

  • Discover advanced tips on using all features (eg, uploading drafts, sending notes, and using the alert system)
  • Learn how to best interpret each student's RoadMap
  • Get answers to all your specific questions, no matter how big or small

This one-hour webinar is Tuesday, October 23, at 1 pm EST.

                           Click here to register now - space is limited

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Grit Becoming a New Factor in College Admissions

Take those failures in stride. They're just stepping stones on the path to building true grit.

At a time when seniors are worrying about their test scores and grades, it may be refreshing to know that there is a quality superior to pulling off stellar numbers, which is slowly being recognized as a much more telling sign of future success--and some larger colleges are beginning to acknowledge this too! It has even become formal policy at universities such as DePaul, Tufts and Wake Forest.

In case you haven't yet heard the new buzz word, it's called "grit." Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor of psychology, recently described grit as, "perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course."

So, for those who continue to be frustrated by the numbers side of the application process, be sure to take advantage of your interview and essays to highlight examples of the much more important quality of grit. To read more about grit in the admissions process, click here.




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Choosing the Right Topic for Your College Essay

Are you happy with your essay topic?

Michael Winerip of the New York Times offers sound advice on college essays in a recent article in the New York Times. For those still pondering what to write about, the topic you choose is just as important as how you write your essay:

"They’re thinking big and exotic, when they need to think small and meaningful. The single most important advice I give them is to write about something that happened to them that made them feel deeply.

The saying about learning more from failure than success — I’d have to say it’s true, at least when it comes to college essays."

Winerip acknowledges that students are still trying to understand their inner selves, and realizing that the thoughts they have are common to others. Students have to be able to "let the inner out," in order to honestly share who they are with colleges.

To read the full article, click here.




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