Why Do You Want To Attend This College?

The most frequently-asked-about piece of advice at College Essay Organizer revolves around how to tell a school that you want to attend. Surely they're not just looking for you to write about what makes them great, right? They already wrote their own guidebooks. They should know what makes them great.

And you're right. The purpose of these essays is not to talk about them but to talk about you. Your job in all of your college essay writing is to convince the reader that you're an interesting person who belongs in their highly-selective class. You're trying to get them to choose you instead of someone else.

Easier said than done, indeed. So today we direct you to a post written last year that has gotten a lot of traffic: How to tell a college that you're interested.

Always keep in mind that your job is to express what you have that they want. It's already implied that they have what you want - a great education and a raft of opportunities for your future, whatever that may be. Do this by identifying your own intellectual interests and developing them from a personal standpoint.

Rutgers 2011 College Essay Prompts

Rutgers-New Brunswick and Rutgers-Newark, campuses of the State University of New Jersey, were updated in the database for 2011 this week, along with a host of others, including the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Muhlenberg College, and the U.S. Military Academy.

Many more schools are updated daily at College Essay Organizer, so be sure to check in on our comprehensive list of updated schools, which is updated and re-posted each Friday on the blog.

University of North Carolina State University - Raleigh 2011 Essay Requirements

North Carolina State University - RaleighNC State has a pile of optional requirements that can be evaluated for scholarship purposes, as well as many scholarship-specific questions that are separate from the school's regular application.This year, the school has 14 scholarship-relevant questions in all.

Among them are the Parks Scholarships Program, the Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) Scholarship program, and the Wood Products Scholarship Program, each of which can be addressed in part by using your intellectual interests essay.

Remember that College Essay Organizer can be a prime tool for finding free money for college, because while we centralize the essay requirements you need for all your schools, we also include departmental and scholarship essays, many of which you can satisfy by turning in altered versions of your essays for other school applications.

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College of William And Mary 2011 Essay Requirements

The College of William and Mary

Campus of The College of William and Mary

In addition to the Common App's basic essay requirements, The College of William and Mary asks students to respond to an optional prompt that's wide open:

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful?

We know that nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude, but please restrict your submission to what will fit on one sheet of paper.

These kinds of prompts should always be taken advantage of. Remember that the college essay is a vital opportunity to let the school know specific details about your background that the application itself won't reveal. You have precious few chances to let the school know about your side of "the deal" - those qualities you have that the school wants in its student body. Make sure to take them!

Even if you feel like you don't have a special extra curricular or professional experience that makes you stand out from the crowd, choose to focus on the things you love, and your passion for those subjects will shine through. Anything that improves the chances of the admission officer remembering you and your application is worth the effort.

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Lake Forest College 2011 Essay Requirements

Lake Forest CollegeThis year Lake Forest College outdoes itself with 15 essay requirements, many of which are multi-part and multi-page.

For example, the requirement for the Buchanan Social Justice Scholarship requires applicants to address all of these points:

  • What social justice issues are of concern to you and how you are personally involved in addressing those concerns?
  • What leadership position have you held within a social justice organization?
  • Have you attended a local, national, or international conference focused on a social justice issue? If yes, please share more about what you experienced.
  • Have you received any awards or recognition relative to your involvement in social justice issues?
  • Student leaders at Lake Forest often effect change and leave a legacy from their contribution to the College community. As you look forward to your educational experience at Lake Forest, what social justice issue will you champion and how will you effect change within our community or the world at large?

It might look like a lot of work at first, but using College Essay Organizer can be a shortcut to money you didn't know was there.

Each year we comb school websites not just for primary application requirements, but also for optional, department-specific, honors, and scholarship essays. Your College Essay Organizer Essay RoadMap can be your map to extra achievement, not to mention cold hard cash.

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Tulane University 2011 Essay Requirements

Tulane University has eleven essay requirements this year in the College Essay Organizer database. This year they made a significant change in their application scheme - last year some requirements appeared on the paper application but not the online app, and the school has made the wise decision to change that for 2011. Here are a few of the questions that were not consistent across the two formats last year:

  • Have you ever participated in a community service project abroad? Please explain your experience.
  • Have you ever studied abroad? Please explain your experience.
  • Have you ever been involved in a community service project other than one required by your school or another organization?  Please explain your experience.

These are the kinds of questions that give applicants an opportunity to stand apart from the pack a little bit, so Tulane's decision to present these questions to all applicants was the right choice. It works in the applicants' favor as well as the school's - after all, they want their student body to be as strong and diverse as possible, so no need to make it difficult on people who have these kinds of exciting elements to their backgrounds.

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Ball State 2011 Essay Requirements

Ball State UniversityBall State University has now been updated by College Essay Organizer. There are fifteen program-specific questions, as well as four additional scholarship program questions.

Using College Essay Organizer can help you not only find these hidden questions, but also explore your opportunities while writing your responses to them. Many applicants are unaware of the many different options they have when it comes to applying to a college or university, so College Essay Organizer can be your primary tool for finding out about departments and specific programs that suit your interests.

Some applicants might have a better chance at admission if they apply to a program or department that best suits their interests and talents. Make sure to explore them all via College Essay Organizer and make sure your admissions chances are as strong as possible!

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Common Application Changes Word Count for 2011 Short Essay

Common App LogoJust a few days ago we blogged about the slight disparity in the Common App's word count versus character count limits for the short answer essay requirement. The difference was slight but significant - 150 words (in theory) was actually 750 characters (a hard limit), which meant for the potential of an ugly cut-off if your 150 words happened to be particularly long words.

The Common App has responded to this issue and changed its short answer requirement from 750 characters to 1,000 characters. We have updated our Common App settings at College Essay Organizer and adjusted the Essay RoadMap readouts to reflect this change.

It should also be noted that the Common App did not post an official notice of this fairly crucial change (they've increased the length requirement by a third without saying so!), but College Essay Organizer is on the case as usual.

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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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