A Simple Common App Tip For The End Of The Year

Common App LogoOur friends at the Common App offer useful tips and tidbits about the application process every few days on their Facebook page. They've reminded us of one of the most important tips there is - not to mention one of the ones you're most likely to forget:

Don't forget: Go to your My Colleges page and check the Application, Supplement, and Payment statuses for each of your colleges. If the status does not show as green, then you have not submitted that item--even if you think you have. Please do this now. It's much better to discover this today than after the deadline has passed.

Simple, but important, no? Make sure that your applications have fully submitted, and that the payments have gone through. As they say, much better to catch this today than after the deadline has passed.

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Free Help For Your Regular Decision Applications

If you're cramming in the remaining work for your regular decision applications, remember that College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder is FREE for the remainder of the year! Get access to every essay question you'll need to write this year, including supplemental, scholarship, optional, and program-specific questions you won't find on the Common App -- all organized in one place!

Get Started Today For FREE!

  1. Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
  3. Enter promo code blogfree1 and press tab - your Essay QuickFinder is free!

This offer applies only to high school seniors - no counselors. Each student gets only one free account.

Once you create your account, simply select your colleges and College Essay Organizer will do the rest!

All students who create their accounts will be eligible to enter our Best Essay Contest and win up to $500 cash!





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Free College Application Help From College Essay Organizer

Here's another reminder that College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder is FREE for the remainder of 2011! Get access to every essay question you'll need to write this year, including supplemental, scholarship, optional, and program-specific questions you won't find on the Common App -- all organized in one place!

Get Started Today For FREE!

  1. Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
  3. Enter promo code blogfree1 and press tab - your Essay QuickFinder is free!

This offer applies only to high school seniors - no counselors. Each student gets only one free account.

Once you create your account, simply select your colleges and College Essay Organizer will do the rest!

All students who create their accounts will be eligible to enter our Best Essay Contest and win up to $500 cash!





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Your Online Identity And Your College Application

College Essay Organizer Is On FacebookThis new article in the Wichita Eagle talks about the importance of your online identity in the college admissions process. We've spoken before about some of the unexpected ways college admissions officers can check into your background, but this is the first article we've seen with hard numbers about the percentage of admissions officers that actively check the Facebook profiles of their applicants, or that Google applicants before fully evaluating their applications.

The article cites College Essay Organizer user Naomi Steinberg, owner of Apply Yourself Educational Consulting in Boca Raton, Florida, as saying that it can be useful for seniors to change the name on their accounts, even if only for the application season:

"As parents and advisors, of course we should be encouraging kids to make good choices and maintain favorable online reputations. In reality, we know we cannot monitor and control every move they make, every photo they or their friends take, and what they have in their hands when the photo is taken."

It doesn't even have to be permanent - returning the user name to your actual name after the acceptances come in is standard, though you'll want to keep privacy settings at a comfortable level if you want to avoid a similar problem with your future job searches.

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How To Handle The Open-Ended College Application Essay

Too Many Choices

You mean I can have any bag of lettuce? Any bag at all?
So many choices.

We have written about the style of the college essay many times here on CEO Blog. The form at its best is almost its own genre of writing – it is a combination of story telling, personal expression, and resume that demands a level of revision that most high schoolers are not used to.

There are all kinds of things that can make a writer freeze up when putting together a personal statement, but ironically, one of those things is having too many options. Many essay prompts, including the Common App’s long response, allow you to write on a topic of your choice, which is to say anything at all.

When you can write about anything, write about your passion.

Your passion won’t be the thing you think you’re supposed to write about, or the thing you think will be most impressive to the guidance counselor you are imagining, but it will be the thing that makes you sit up and say, “I can write about that.”

When you have that a-ha moment and recognize what you care about, your writing will actually improve. You will avoid cliché and, better yet, you will be able to write with detail that shows you understand the world you’re talking about. You will be able to invite the reader into an understanding of what you love and show why your involvement in it matters.

In short, you’ll be able to describe for the reader something about yourself that your resume doesn’t reflect as well as it could, and that’s the job of this piece of writing.

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College Application Essays: Pacing Yourself This Fall

Will you take a risk when you write your essays?

Chances are, your days are already pretty packed: classes, extracurriculars, seeing friends, spending time with family… and now applying to college on top of that. Senior year can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to writing your personal essays. And while you’ve certainly written essays on the Civil War, Einstein, or plant biology, a personal essay is a different animal. It can be time consuming and even emotionally draining, depending on your choice of topic. Make sure to pace yourself accordingly and keep that pile of college essay assignments manageable.

Make sure to set aside a little bit of time every day to work on your essay. It’s better to spend 20 minutes on it daily than 10 hours right before it’s due. You’ll find that visiting it every day will help your ideas flow and connect better, give you perspective on what you’ve already written, and reduce the chances of sloppy mistakes.

As for topic selection, instead of trying to brainstorm an essay that matches an existing question from your school of choice, try working backward. Think of a personal experience that moved you or changed you, then tailor that to answer the question. Let’s say you want to write about your experience playing the flute for the first time with a large orchestra. This story answers a lot of possible essay questions: what was a personal activity of special significance, or an accomplishment you are proud of—even an adversity you have dealt with. This one story can be tweaked into the many essays your colleges require.

It’s great to get feedback from a friend or a teacher on a draft you’ve written, but don’t overdo it. A common mistake is an essay written “by committee” – too many people have read it and the writer is trying to please too many different opinions. In the end, you’re left with an essay with all the life sucked out of it. Find one person you trust—preferably not a family member or friend—and let that individual be your sounding board.

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The China Conundrum from The New York Times

New York TimesThe New York Times has a magazine piece up today about the influx of Chinese students into the American university system in recent years. Many of the students, the article notes, are from middle- to upper-class families that can afford to pay the full tuition - a boon for schools struggling under recent budget cuts - but who often arrive without the requisite English skills to keep up in the classroom.

The onus is on them, for the most part, and though navigating a university education in one's second language is an enormous challenge, it's one that isn't dissuading Chinese parents from sending their children to America in rapidly-increasing numbers.

As with any international shift in the college admissions game, understanding the system is of primary importance, especially when choosing your school and managing the college essay process. A number of the students cited in the article admit that when they applied to the school, their English was not strong, which is all the more reason to keep the application process simple, efficient, and direct, so as not to write any unnecessary essays or misinterpret what's required for a given application.

Use of College Essay Organizer has likewise grown among international applicants and international counseling services, and that's to everyone's benefit. Keep things simple and targeted, and make the most of what you have.

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Expect to Write More College Essays When Applying to College Next Year

Will this be you next fall?

For all the juniors out there who are starting to quiver in their boots in anticipation of applying to colleges in the fall, you might just

have something to worry about. Most of you have heard the stories from your older friends and siblings of how many essays there are to write when applying to college. Well, expect even more essays next season.

As top schools get inundated with college applications -- thousands more than in previous years for the same number of spots -- discussions are forming on how admissions officers can abate surging numbers of applicants coupled with plunging admissions statistics. In a recent article in the Harvard Crimson, Justin Worland writes that Don McMillan, president of a Boston-based educational consulting firm, believes that the Common App is the main force in the rapid growth of college applications.

However, McMillan claims that the Common App supplemental essays (for each individual college) deter some students from submitting additional applications: “The main thing that is keeping kids from increasing the number of applications from 6 to 11 is the supplement. One way [colleges] will be able to moderate [the increase in applications] is by requiring additional supplementary essays or campus visits.”

CEO was created with this very point in mind. We agree that the number of essays are on the rise. But because of the overlapping themes among essay questions, as the number of essays increase the number of original essays that you write doesn’t have to.

See what we mean here? It'll take you just ten seconds to discover how CEO can save you hours and allow you to apply to all the colleges you want without any additional essay writing.

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St. John's University (NY) Admission Essay Prompt Confusion

While researching the essay requirements of the over 600 colleges and universities currently in our database, we have come upon many inconsistencies and contradictions, but few as noticeably different as the one between St. John's University's online application and the PDF version. Here's a taste of what we're talking about - St. John's online application asks this of all who apply:

Although this is optional, we'd like to learn just a little bit more about you. Please submit a short personal statement on one of the topics listed below.

  1. What motivates you? We'd like to know what activities you really enjoy. Do they tie in with any career goals? Have you won any awards or honors?
  2. Don't reinvent the wheel. You have the option to submit a graded essay from your senior year.

Nothing too out of the ordinary there. It's an optional but recommended essay with a straightforward prompt and another option to submit a writing sample. But here's what they ask if you're using the paper application:

A 250-word, typewritten personal statement or essay on a topic of your choice. If you choose to submit a personal statement, please offer some explanation of your current career goals, information about honors and awards you have received and/or other activities in which you have engaged in order to provide us with a clear, personal profile of your pursuits and interests beyond the classroom.

This prompt is clearly on a topic of the applicant's choice. So the options are wide-open, which for many applicants means the difference between writing an additional essay or not.

This is the kind of work CEO does for you. We check and re-check the thousands of requirements on many applications nationwide, looking for opportunities like these, and making sure that your options are clearly presented to you. CEO sides with the online application in this case, since it's the one the majority of applicants will be using, but we also provide a note in the school's header explaining the difference and allowing you to choose.

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Good College Essay Topics For Your Applications

As students head back to school and the application season starts to really heat up, we thought we'd take this week to focus on things you can do to hone your work and make your writing more memorable to those overworked admissions officers.

One of the most obvious things you can do to make your writing stand out is to choose an exciting, accessible topic for your essay. Of course, many of the prompts will be decided for you, but that doesn't mean the topic is. College applications are known for their broad, interpretable questions that have a surprising amount of flexibility to them if you think about it for a bit.

Here are a few good places to start:

  • What are your favorite activities and hobbies? Why?
  • What are your talents/skills? How did you develop them? Who helped you?
  • Who have been the most influential people in your life?
  • What was your most memorable experience? Best? Worst?
  • How have you changed in the past four years?

We've got more good essay topics for you here. Remember to not always choose the first thing that comes to mind. It's much more important to have a good piece of writing than to just get it over with.