Writing Commitment Letters to Colleges And Universities

Commitment. It's a big thing.

This time of year is stressful for high school seniors for many reasons, not least of which is the early decision or early action notification. Though your chances of attending your top choice are higher if you apply early, acceptance is never a sure thing.

If you've been deferred by your early decision option, or you made a late decision on which college you really want to attend, there are ways to channel that anxious energy into something tangible that can actually increase your chances of getting in.

Experts suggest that writing a Commitment Letter will not only help reduce your stress but might also be just what the college needs to tip the balance in your favor.

When the regular decision process unwinds, college admissions officers will be at their desks struggling to determine how many students will accept their offers. After all, they don't want to accept students that are not likely to actually attend. A commitment letter lets the college know that you are passionate about enrolling, and that if admitted, you would definitely accept the offer.

This love letter should demonstrate your enthusiasm for the school and include important updates on your academic and extracurricular life. There's no need to repeat what you've already told them - this should be new info, along with the heartfelt expression of hope that you'll be accepted. Don’t you want your favorite school to know that you’re still working hard on your AP courses, and have now become president of the chess team, or whatever else you might be up to these days - and that all the while you’re dreaming of the day when you can pack up your things, leave home, and finally be on their campus?

Consider this to be one last college essay, just make sure not to be unfaithful. Committing to a school and not attending can reflect negatively on your high school, affecting future students’ chances. Also, colleges sometimes share notes on applicants, and if they realize that they have all gotten the same commitment letter, it might hurt you. No one wants a player.

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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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Getting Your Recommendations In

Common App LogoAt this time of year, with certain Early Action and all Regular Decision applications getting close to the deadline, it can be important to revisit some of the basics to avoid last-minute... how do we put this delicately... freak-outs.

Students should remind their counselors and teachers that any forms sent by mail should be addressed to the admission office of each college to which they are applying. This certainly sounds basic, but the good people at the Common App remind us with their helpful Facebook updates that these kinds of errors are anything but uncommon.

For teachers and counselors, please do not send anything to the Common Application offices. Though they will (thoughtfully!) post it return to sender, these kinds of mistakes, if made at the last minute, can weigh heavily on students. And if you know of people who are confused about where to send their recommendations, be sure to point them here.

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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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Free College Application Help for 2011

No, it's not technically a Thanksgiving Day promotion, but if that helps you along, feel free to pretend like you're getting a Black Friday deal like no other.

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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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.

University of Kentucky 2011 Essay Prompts

University of KentuckyThe University of Kentucky pushes for a record by logging 26 essay requirements this year. Its enormous number is thanks to a load of school-specific, departmental, optional, honors, and scholarship requirements. Kentucky has a lot of each of them.

Kentucky also accepts the Common App this year, so College Essay Organizer users will see more than twenty essay requirements through their RoadMaps and QuickFinders that don't appear on the Common App site. College Essay Organizer does this for all schools, providing you a direct look at what's really out there.

Using the Common App alone can often leave you with only a partial look at what's really expected of you. Head over to our Common App page to read more about this.

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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.