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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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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5 College Essay Writing Mistakes To Avoid

Now that you've all come out of your turkey-induced comas, let's get back to the matter at hand - finishing off all those college application essays you have hanging over your head. This kind of writing can be hard to kick-start, especially if you’re used to writing more academic essays, but hopefully with the guidance we've been able to give here on CEO blog, you'll be able to write memorable pieces without falling into the common traps. What common traps, you say? Funny you say that. We've got five common mistakes for you to avoid, listed here for your list-loving pleasure.

Dont Go Down This Road People

Don't go down this road, people. Please.

1. Don’t write a traditional 5-paragraph essay with a thesis, body, and conclusion. Take some risks with the structure and show your personality. Use the first person and just start writing. See what happens. You can pose a question or start with a distinctive opinion on a topic. Almost anything goes.

2. Don’t be gimmicky. We’ve all heard about the student who wrote his essay about his childhood years with a crayon and got accepted to every college. The likelihood of this being true is slim. It’s like communism: good in theory, impossible in practice. Let the substance of your writing be the real story.

3. Don’t come off as arrogant. This can be difficult, because part of what you’re trying to do with your personal essay is highlight something positive about yourself. But it’s one thing to call yourself awesome in your own essay and quite another to write about things you’ve done that show how awesome you clearly are. The old rule of writing applies here: show, don’t tell.

4. Don’t be cheesy. You shouldn’t come off like a bad Hallmark card. Let’s be serious. You’re not somebody who is so inspired by the beauty of the world you are brought to tears at the sight of a single flower. Come on. You know over-sentimentality when you see it, so keep it out of your essay.

5. Don’t use overly formal language. Applying to college is serious business, but that doesn’t mean that the tone and style of your essays need to be stuffy. Colleges are looking for personality and character, so relax when you start expressing yourself. Instead of writing something dry like, “I have come to this understanding according to certain factors that have influenced my life…” write something lively like, “During the summer of 2009, I was stalked by my literary hero.”

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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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North Carolina School of the Arts 2011 Essay Questions

The essay requirements for the North Carolina School of the Arts are live in the College Essay Organizer database. There are required, optional, and departmental essays to be found there, as there are with most of the arts schools in the database.

In NCSA's case, there are requirements that feel like they ask for traditional essays, but there's also an optional writing addition to the portfolio assessment:

A piece of creative writing (screenplay, short story, essay, etc.) may be submitted to the School of Filmmaking as part of the application portfolio for those interested in  Directing, Picture Editing and Sound Design, Producing, and Screenwriting.

College Essay Organizer is not only for national universities and liberal arts colleges, we address a number of arts schools, religious institutions, and music conservatories as well. As with all schools in the database, you can use College Essay Organizer to find out about departments and scholarship opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise known were there.

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Cogswell Polytechnical College 2011 Essay Question

Cogswell Polytechnical College

Cog-nation.

Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, California, is a recent addition to the College Essay Organizer database. Cogswell has a number of interesting essay requirements, including this one for its Digital Motion Picture Program:

A crayon, a fishing rod, and a can of beer are being chased down the street by a bunch of muffins. Why?

The obvious reaction to this is to wonder what the people at Cogswell were on when they wrote it. But like any "strange" essay prompt, it's your job to turn it into a question about a specific idea, and then respond to that idea. For the Cogswell DMP program, applicants are being tested on the narrative sensibilities and their understanding of cause and effect. Basic narrative machinations require an understanding of character, wants, and consequence. By expressing a sense of those facets, applicants can write their way right into the school.

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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.

How To Keep Your Voice In Your College Essay

Cyndy McDonald

Cyndy McDonald from mycca.net

Today's guest post is from Cyndy McDonald at mycca.net.

I have been assisting students with brainstorming college essay topics and reviewing college essays for almost twenty years. I have watched many students learn and grow from that process. One of the most important parts of the college essay process is for you to keep your voice. I have developed three tips to assist you in this process:

1. Limit the number of people who will review your personal statement. Having lots of people read your essay will give you lots of suggestions as to how to make it better. Often you can get too many suggestions. One person’s advice will contradict another. Select only 2 people, 3 at the most, to review your essay. This helps you to keep your voice in your essay clear and distinct.

2. Explain to parents this essay is hands off. I recall one distinct experience with this. I was working with a student in the final phases of his college essay. I was reviewing what was supposed to be his final draft. It was filled with words and phrases that did not fit. As I circled the phrases, the student started grinning. The more I circled, the more he grinned. That is not the usual response I get from a student when he is submitting a final draft and I am telling him to go back and redo it one more time. Finally, I asked him, "Why are you grinning?  I was expecting a frown, not smiles.” He responded, “Everything you have circled, my dad told me to put in.”  “Go tell your dad you are taking these parts out. They are not you. It does not fit and does not have your voice.” Parents mean well but are not the best sources to turn to when it comes to writing in your own voice. It is best if they take a hands off approach to this process.

3. Be true to yourself. The college essay is your opportunity to tell the college anything you want about yourself. It is not the time to try to impress them with an intellectual dissertation. Be true to who you are. If you ask a friend to read your essay, ask them “Does this sound like me?”. If the answer is “No,” then start again and write until the answer is “Yes”. The passion and sincerity of who you are needs to shine through your essay.

Using College Essay Organizer will help you to understand what you are writing about, and help you find your voice in your essays. It gives you a clear writing plan that you can use in the process.

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State University of New York (SUNY) 2011 Essay Requirements

SUNY SealThough Binghamton and Purchase are still yet to release their Common App Supplements, the other State University of New York (SUNY) schools are now fully updated in the College Essay Organizer database. And there's plenty of them! Have a look:

  • State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • State University of New York at Oneonta
  • State University of New York at Buffalo State College
  • State University of New York - College at Brockport
  • State University of New York at Old Westbury
  • State University of New York at New Paltz
  • State University of New York at Potsdam
  • State University of New York at Cortland
  • State University of New York - University at Buffalo
  • State University of New York at Albany
  • State University of New York at Geneseo
  • State University of New York at Fredonia
  • State University of New York at Oswego
  • State University of New York at Plattsburgh

These schools have many overlaps but are not identical by any stretch. Be sure to explore their departmental and scholarship options if these schools find their way onto your list.

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