College Essay Tips

TIP 1 - Program-Specific Questions Are Good For You:  While the many program-specific questions seem daunting, they help you discover different programs that may appeal to you and even help you get accepted -- and for some reason these essay questions are almost never even mentioned on the Common App. For instance, maybe you never considered applying to Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, but after seeing that program's essay questions on College Essay Organizer, you realize that this program might not only be right up your alley but also is going to help you gain the competitive admissions edge because of your special talents and background related to the hospitality industry.

TIP 2 - Optional Means Opportunity:  When a college asks you a question and says it's optional, think of it like a parent asking you to do your chores; you don'thave to do them, but if you don't, you're probably not going to get the keys to the family car that weekend. Optional questions present you with the opportunity to convey your passions and interests to people eager to learn more about you. Use such space wisely, and it can make all the difference.

TIP 3 - A Problem Well Organized Is A Problem Half Solved:  You can spend several hours organizing all your essay questions in one clear document (which you know you'll never actually do) and hope that you locate all the hard-to-find supplemental, program-specific, optional, and scholarship questions —and then try to figure out how many original essays you need to write (and on which topics) to make this a quick and simple process. Or you can get started now for FREE and letCollege Essay Organizer do it for you instantly. You're applying to college now — time to start using your brain.

Take a Moment to De-Stress

When you're starting to feel like this, watch our videos.

May 13, 2012

For juniors starting to contemplate the anxieties of the college application process up ahead, we wanted to pass on these great stress buster videos, which will definitely release some of that tension. In addition, stay tuned in to our blog as we regularly post updates on how to stay on top of the process. We also hold free webinars throughout the season, allowing for individual questions to be addressed.

 

 

Maximize Your Chances of Getting into Brown University

Don't miss your chance to apply early decision

Whether you are undertaking the somewhat treacherous admissions path on your own or with a consultant to help lead the way, make sure not to overlook the importance of applying early decision. This article by Steve Cohen, which appeared recently in The Daily Beast, demonstrates how this will benefit students looking for the best way to beat the odds this season, and Cohen has the numbers to prove it.

The statistics clearly illustrate that applying early decision will maximize your chances of getting in. Brown University, one of the country’s most selective colleges, admitted only 7.5% of its regular decision applicants, while 20% of early decision applicants got the green light. So if you want to reach for your dream college, do it early decision, but don’t put off writing the rest of your essays till you find out if you’re accepted. This will leave you only a few short weeks to pull together several more applications. Make sure to plan ahead, and write your essays as early as possible, making your senior year less stressful and more organized.

State University of New York Essay Questions 2011

State University of New York - SUNY LogoThe SUNY (State University of New York) schools have many specific differences, including certain essay questions, scholarship requirements, and the like. But they share this question in common:

Please provide additional information that will help us better understand your academic performance. You may also explain any chronological gaps in your academic history (e.g. a period of time after high school graduation before applying to college).

At first glance, this question seems like it could be an optional "tell us anything" prompt, or even a required "disciplinary" question, telling you to explain any suspensions, or run-ins with authorities that have disrupted your time in school. At College Essay Organizer, we recommend that anybody without the kind of disciplinary problems or "gaps" in the academic record use this prompt as an opportunity to discuss his or her intellectual interests.

We have discussed the intellectual interest essay here before on the blog, but most importantly, it is the piece of writing that tells the school why you are interested in what they can offer you, and what you bring to the table as a member of the student body. It is a chance to discuss your interests while also implying what you are good at and how you spend your time most effectively. It can be a chance to distinguish yourself from your peers in a unique way, which is something you should always be looking for opportunities to do.

Brown University and the Common App Supplement

Emma Watson Brown University Student

One of these people goes to Brown University. Exciting! You should probably not write your essay about that.

Brown University has always been known for its distinctive academic requirements - distinctive in that it has nearly no traditional academic requirements at all. Brown does not have a core curriculum, and allows students to shape their learning around a required number of credits each semester. As one might expect, a number of Brown's essay requirements address this atypical aspect of the school, one of which goes a little something like this:

"A distinctive feature of the Brown Curriculum is the opportunity to be the 'architect of your education.' Why does this academic environment appeal to you?"

This is another way of asking why you are interested in the school, something we've addressed here on CEO Blog before. When Brown asks you what's so great about leaving your educational requirements for you to choose, what they're really asking is what you are interested in and how you plan to take advantage of the opportunities such an arrangement allows you more than anything you might find in a Brown University promotional pamphlet.

Don't forget that your writing is always about what you can do for the school and its student body, regardless of the question. The implied meaning of all your responses is that you are a desirable candidate, and that you have qualities that set you apart from the thousands of other applicants. So when writing about a school-specific quality, like when addressing this prompt from Brown, make sure that you are identifying your own interests, and detailing how they would come alive in such an environment. Be specific, clear, and assertive and find the spots where their interests are yours, too.

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.

Harvard University Returns To Early Action for 2012

Harvard Shield

November 1 comes quickly, little crimsonites.

In 2007, Harvard eliminated its Early Action program and required that everyone send in applications on the same date, January 1st, but this year, it returns to Early Action, with the first round of applications due on November 1, 2011.

The move in 2007 was seen as a reaction against the increasingly competitive admissions environment in America, and many applauded the effort. But other popular schools took this as a competitive advantage and did not follow suit, so Harvard has done its applicants a favor by sparing them the difficult choice of a binding decision from another school when they'd really like to take a shot at Harvard.

Early Action and Early Decision programs certainly increase the pressure on students and parents alike - decisions are often made with a limited amount of information and on very short timetables, but they have their upsides for schools, allowing them to increase yields and fill large portions of their classes with students that are sure to attend.

This decision - coming from the top, as it were - should be read as a firm statement that Early Action and Early Decsion programs are here to stay. Get your work done as early as you can, do your homework, and learn as much as you can about your top choices before committing to your number one school.

New York Times Addresses The Importance Of the College Essay

New York TimesThe New York Times posted an in-depth and informative piece this past weekend about the growing number of applicants to American universities from other countries, and how important the college essay is for gaining an edge.  The problem the article describes is simple: the number of overseas applicants is skyrocketing, increasing at more than 50% a year, every year, and the number of slots available in each school's incoming class is staying the same. With competition becoming ever more aggressive, the cost of advising and essay help is reaching into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per student. While most independent consultants are wonderful, helpful guides, some are willing to rewrite every element of an applicant's essay, or even write it for the student outright.

College Essay Organizer is the ethical solution to this problem. We have been helping foreign students navigate the lengthy and complex essay process for years, and as with all of College Essay Organizer's members, we do it quickly and at a low cost. With the circuitous application system we have in America, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. College Essay Organizer is a one-stop shop for your essay requirements, allowing you to work smarter and spend your time efficiently on the work you have to do, rather than the enormous amount that it seems you have to do.

College Admissions: What You Need To Know

Zen College Life

Louise Baker from Zen College Life weighs
in on college admissions

Today's blog post comes from Louise Baker at Zen College Life. Zen College Life is a leading source for college and degree information online. Their writing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on MSN, About.com, The Consumerist, and many other publications and websites.

Going to college can open up a world of opportunities, both personally and professionally. Getting into college, however, has gotten progressively harder in recent years as more and more high school students have realized that attending college can give them the tools for lifelong success that they need. Below are the tips that you need to know, as you navigate the college admissions landscape.

Although you may be tempted to tag along with your high school buddies, as they road trip to the colleges that have the best parties in your area, it is important to do your own research on the schools that you want to attend. Unless you are confident that you want to attend a school, you will not be able to put together an application that convinces a college's admissions offices that you truly want to be at that university. Start by brainstorming the types of degree programs you are interested in and the geographic area you are willing to move to for college. Then begin visiting schools to narrow down factors like the size of the school and type of campus.

Once you have a list of five to seven schools that you would be okay with attending, make sure that among them is at least one or two safety schools. These should be schools that, based upon your SAT I and SAT II scores and your grades you are statistically likely to be admitted to for the fall semester. Hopefully, you will get into several of your choice colleges, but it is important that you have at least one school to attend in the fall. Remember, you can always transfer to another school later on!

Many colleges accept the common application, which means that you only need to write one essay and put together one package of information. Be careful though, as some schools will require supplemental statements. Sending one to the wrong school can mean being disqualified by both schools! Check the schools' requirements for letters of recommendation and make sure that your teachers write yours and send them in well in advance of their due dates so your application is not held up. Call the admissions office after your teachers notify you that they have sent them to confirm the schools' receipt.

Even if you are fairly confident that a school will accept you, you should still go ahead and ask for an interview. This is a time to show off what makes you special, which may be hard for an admissions counselor to see on your paper application. Show up in a suit or other nice outfit and be ready to discuss your favorite books.

Today Is A Great Day To Get The Process Rolling

Lee Bierer

Lee Bierer of College Admissions Strategies

Today's blog post comes from Lee Bierer, independent counselor and principal of College Admissions Strategies in Charlotte, North Carolina. Additionally, Lee has been writing the weekly “Countdown to College” column for The Charlotte Observer, that is syndicated nationally by McClatchy Newspapers, for over four years. Lee specializes in three areas of college admissions counseling: college identification and selection, application strategy and scholarship search. You can learn more about her and her services at www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.

Now is the right time for high school juniors and their parents to be thinking about colleges and the admissions process. It's not too early, and, thankfully, not too late.

Many families find the most important first step is to discuss options and expectations.

You don't want your child poring over catalogs from colleges in the Northeast if you really want him within driving distance. With private schools costing $20,000 to $50,000 per year, you owe it to yourself and your child to have a frank discussion regarding finances. He needs to know how much has been saved and your expectations for his financial commitment toward college, typically student loans.

Parents and students should independently make a list of a dozen or so colleges that would be a good fit for the student.

Before you begin, have your son or daughter compile PSAT or SAT scores, high school grades, and rank in class or estimated grade point average. These stats will guide you, but understand that only half of students fall within SAT ranges listed in the guidebooks. While grades, rigor of curriculum and SATs are typically the most important criteria, factors such as extracurricular activities, college essays and letters of recommendation  make a difference.

Borrow or buy a current guidebook, and spend some time reading about a range of colleges and universities. Try to reduce your biases and think about what kind of college or university will best serve your child.

Basic areas to consider: size, location, academic offerings, retention rate (how many freshmen return for their sophomore year), cost and availability of financial aid. Depending on your student's interests, you may want to include sports teams and Greek life. (How important are fraternities and sororities to the college?) Some guidebooks offer a quality-of-life rating that provides a peek into campus culture and the surrounding community.

Listen to your student - Once you've done your homework, compare notes and listen to your student's wants and needs. Take a look at the schools that you have in common and discuss why each of you listed them. Encourage everyone to participate in brainstorming and try to minimize judgments. Then hone both of your lists into one with 15 to 25 colleges to explore in more detail. As you narrow the list, keep two things in mind:

  • Academic factors: Where will your student be challenged, but not shoved or overshadowed? Where is the learning environment that matches your student's personal learning style?
  • Social factors: Where will your student be comfortable? Where will he fit in?

Make sure your child "owns" his role in the admissions process. This first exercise often sets the tone for what can be a wonderful collaboration.

3 Tips for Picking a College

  • Don't focus too much on prestige or rankings.
  • Don't assume that schools that cost more are of higher quality.
  • Don't believe there is only one perfect college.