Janet Rapelye, the dean of admission at Princeton University, is answering admissions questions for The New York Times' Choice Blog this week. Her first posting addressed the importance of taking time to write your college essays:
"Your ability to write well is critical to our decision because your writing reflects your thinking. No matter what question is asked on a college application, admission officers are looking to see how well you convey your ideas and express yourself in writing. It is our window to your world."
This definitely reinforces the fact that college essays can play a pivotal role in acceptance to a college. Starting early, staying organized, and investing considerable time perfecting your prose may make all the difference in getting accepted to your top choice college.
It’s official: The 2012/2013 college application season has begun!
Georgia Tech has posted a preview of its essay prompts for the new application season, and after confirming with the university that these are the official questions, we've updated them in College Essay Organizer. We appreciate Georgia Tech's awareness of the stress involved in the essay process when they write: "If you are anxious to get a head start on your application, we would encourage you to work on your essay - the portion of the application that most student's report takes the longest to complete."
Notwithstanding (or perhaps because of) Georgia Tech's ironic typo when emphasizing the difficulty of the writing process (highlighted by us in red), we agree that the college essay process is absolutely the most time-consuming and challenging part for applicants, and we're the only site (including the Common App and Naviance) that makes it a much smoother, more successful experience.
We had a great time at the IECA Fall Conference in Dallas, TX! It was exciting to see so many of you face to face, and to encounter new members interested in learning more about College Essay Organizer. As promised, we also gave away a free CEO master account valued at $195 during the IECA raffle. Good times all around.
For those of you who weren't on hand for an in-person demo, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime, and we can set up a time to walk you through it. IECA members are also entitled to one free student account per season, so please contact us if you have not already done so, so we can get you set up.
Thanks again to all of you who came by to introduce yourselves in person. Talking with our members enables us to keep making improvements, and lets us know that we are meeting your needs.
College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder will be 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!
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- Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
- Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
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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!
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If you have questions, call 646-448-4927 or email info@CollegeEssayOrganizer.com.
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.
Will University of Chicago win our 2011-2012 most interesting essay question award?
We’ve had another exciting day of seeing what’s out there! University of Georgia, University of Chicago, and University of Florida were among the colleges that released some of their 2011-2012 essay questions.
For those of you who have been reading countless essay questions, University of Chicago’s new questions will definitely put some glee in your day. It’s always refreshing to come across a school that is dedicated to breaking conformity and getting your creative juices flowing. You can’t help but smile when you hear a question like, “Don’t write about reverse psychology,” or, “What does Play-Doh™ have to do with Plato?”
Alan Gelb is an author and educational consultant specializing on the college essay process. He has written “Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Step” and “The Complete Student: Achieving Success in College and Beyond”
Alan Gelb offers some practical advice for juniors in this posting on the New York Times Choice blog. While juniors should be thinking about their college lists and beefing up their resumes with some non-academic, real-world experience this summer, they should also be taking advantage of some of their downtime to turn their attention to their college essays.
Gelb writes, “These less hurried months before the onslaught of a highly pressured fall offer the chance for students to think, reflect and connect with a writing topic that can then be developed into 500 words of polished prose.” We wholeheartedly agree, and his practical tips will definitely help your mind to slow down and get your creative juices flowing as you begin to discover and explore your essay topic.
Has being waitlisted left you even more confused?
After all the waiting you have done, the last thing you want now is to be put on a wait list! But what happens if you are one of the 10% of applicants who find themselves fated to wait a bit longer? This article by Zach Miners offers some helpful tips for seeing the bright side of a possibly taxing situation.
The first step is to decide whether or not you would actually attend the college if you were accepted. If it is definitely your first choice, here are a few steps you can take to increase your chances:
- Let the college know that you would like to remain on the wait list.
- If you have new information to share about your accomplishments, write a compelling letter letting the college know.
- Definitely let the college know that you would attend if you were accepted, but don’t become a squeaky wheel or worse yet, try to bribe officials!
- Make plans to enroll at another college so that you are sure to have a spot somewhere in the case that you don’t get off the wait list.
- If you haven’t interviewed yet, call the college to try to set one up. Personal contact along with genuinely expressed enthusiasm for a school can help tip the balance.
- Don’t take it personally if you don’t get in. Only about 30% of students get off of wait lists, and in some cases, even fewer spots are available.
While it may be challenging to sit tight for another few weeks or months, use the time to do more research on the schools that you have been admitted to. Every school has its advantages and disadvantages, so try to focus on the positives. And if you do find that the school you attend is not a good fit, you can always apply for a transfer after a year, but chances are, you’ll end up loving it!