CEO Now Used By Stuyvesant High School in New York

Stuyvesant High School in New York has set up CEO accounts for its entire senior class.

Stuyvesant High School, the prestigious public high school in Manhattan, has adopted College Essay Organizer for use by all of its seniors - 786 of them to be exact.

While many state and small local colleges have numerous essay requirements, the top colleges in the country typically require the greatest number of essays - after all, applicants to top schools typically have very similar GPA and SAT numbers and thus need something to distinguish themselves from the masses. The essays accomplish this goal.

We've seen again and again that students seeking this kind of competitive edge use CEO to make the most of their valuable time, especially when they're trying to balance their SAT or ACT prep, college application forms, teacher recs, extracurricular activities, and homework ... oh, and be a happy teenager who can hang out with friends, too.

Students are often surprised to learn that even if they use the Common App, there is typically a multitude of supplemental, program-specific, and scholarship essay questions, many of which are NOT found on the Common App. Only CEO can provide them for you in one place -- instantly!

Here are a couple of recent testimonials from Stuyvesant folk who've experienced the power of CEO's technology:

"I felt it was really important that I devote my time and energy to actually writing my essays as opposed to just trying to find and organize all the different questions and figure out which essays overlapped. The huge number of essays seemed overwhelming, but CEO whittled down the topics and gave me a clear plan. Planning in advance has always been so important to me. Without this amazing site, the time needed to complete the application process would have doubled or tripled."

- Robert Hess
Graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 2010; Accepted to Yale University
Chess Grandmaster, Ranked #1 in the US (21 and under)

"Applying to selective colleges can be a formidable undertaking for even the best students, and I know well the importance of strong essays in gaining admission. CEO simplifies the essay process by allowing students to navigate the requirements for each college more efficiently, thus providing more time to focus on writing the best essays possible. I highly recommend CEO for all college-bound students."

- Florri Levy
Chair of the College Committee of the Stuyvesant High School Parents' Association,
2006-2009 (New York, NY)

Have a look for yourself to see why the best and the brightest are taking advantage of CEO. Click here to check for FREE how many essays your colleges require and how CEO can deliver them all to you instantly.

The Bergen Record Features CEO's President Daniel Stern

Daniel Stern, President of College Essay Organizer

Our President and CEO Daniel Stern was featured in the Bergen Record (in New Jersey) yesterday talking about the Common App and the many misconceptions students and counselors have about it.

Dan spoke about the surprising number of essays students face after they've completed their required Common App essays - namely the many supplemental, department-specific, and scholarship questions that pop up for any student applying to multiple colleges.

On top of that, he spoke about the importance of understanding the prompt. When a college asks you why you're interested, remember that it's not advisable to just repeat the guidebook back to them. They know you want to be there - that's why you're applying. What they really want to learn about is you and what you're going to bring to the campus.

Above all, Dan talked about what we're all about here at CEO - simplifying the essay and application process in easy and inexpensive ways so that you can focus your time on your best writing without spreading yourself too thin.

Make sure that you know ahead of time how many essays your colleges require so you don't have any rude surprises in the fall. Getting out ahead of things now will make the rest of the way smooth sailing for sure.

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Many students think that by using the Common Application, they only need to write two essays. But in addition to the Common Application’s basic essays, most schools require multiple supplemental admission essays. Some applicants have never even heard of supplemental essays – which can make for a pretty rude awakening as deadlines approach.

The facts:

  • Submitting 7 college applications often requires more than 15 different admission essays.
  • Just finding and organizing your college essay questions can take several hours.
  • Many admission questions are hard to find, and some are not even located on the Common Application, especially the program-specific and scholarship questions.

CEO provides your essay questions in one place, instantly. We save you hours of work, keep you organized, and make sure you never overlook any essay questions.

We've put together a page explaining what Common App supplements are, and have provided a few examples of colleges that have them. For example, Yale has 2 required supplemental essays along with 5 short-answer essays. Some schools that have gone completely overboard: NYU has 3 required essays and as many as 27 program-specific essays.

With our FREE Essay RoadMap Preview page, you can discover how many essays your schools require.


Ready to get started? Click here to get your essay questions now for as little as $2!

Use the promo code senior9 for a 50% discount this month only!



How To Tell A College That You're Interested

So, so interested.

When you're answering why you're so interested, try not to say, "because it's shiny."

Why are you interested in our college?

This kind of prompt is common, of course, and it seems easy enough at first – you’re applying to the school, aren’t you? You’re interested in it. But now what? Your first instinct might be to repeat what’s in the guidebook, or just talk about what you heard on the informational tour. You might want to act like you need to sell the school back to itself.

But don’t. Essays like these need to be interpreted as what they are – essays about you and your skills. In the broad scheme of things, this is what you might want to call an “Intellectual Interest” essay.

What you want to do with an Intellectual Interest essay is make yourself look good to the school. You don’t need to fill the page with a series of meaningless and optionally funny anecdotes from your summer trip to Lake George with your uncle that one time when he fell off the boat and everyone laughed. What you’re really trying to communicate with this is something about who you are and what you can bring to the school that no one else can. Those are your Intellectual Interests.

It wants to be an essay about the time you demonstrated your love of Steinbeck’s writing to make a point about modern America, or the time you used your knowledge of physics to bond with a carpenter about his work you saw at a fair. Something specific, but tied to your love of academics.

In writing an essay like this, you need to focus your argument or story all around you and what you are capable of. If you want to structure it as an autobiographical episode, make sure the episode is about something specific, namely your interests or skills, and why those are important to have at a university like the one you’re applying to.

You can, of course, talk about your personal experiences visiting the college or about student clubs or opportunities unique to the school, but if you do, make sure that these examples are more about your personal interests than about the school itself.

When broad, vague, or even crazy prompts pop up, give them some thought about how they can be used to reflect something unique about you that the rest of your application doesn’t allow for. Then tell that story in terms of the wacked out prompt the school threw at you.

Using CEO to Find Scholarships And Departments For College

One of the hidden benefits (which we've tried here on CEO blog to keep not-so-hidden) is that the Essay QuickFinder and Essay RoadMap tools will help you find department-specific and scholarship essays you didn't even know existed.

If we take a look at this simple example, the Essay RoadMap finds 9 requirements that can be answered with just 3 pieces of writing. But if you read on, you'll see that even this small selection of colleges brings with it 49 departmental and scholarship essay prompts. 49! And almost none of these questions appear on the Common App.

Searching For Free Money With CEO

Seeing these prompts will doubtlessly set you off towards programs and, in many cases, opportunities for free money that you might have overlooked.

How to Write Fewer Essays for College with CEO's Essay RoadMap

CEO's Essay RoadMap is designed to take any list of universities and find the fewest number of essays that can satisfy all your requirements. We've cooked up a sample here for you to see just how much work it can save you.

Twelve turns into Four!

The schools that appear in the checklist below have 12 required questions among them, and CEO's Essay RoadMap shows you how to answer those 12 questions using just 4 pieces of original writing.

It's also worth noting that there are 19 (count them!) optional, department-specific, and special applicant questions that may or may not apply to every applicant. These can include specific programs within the universities, scholarships, or certain majors that have their own application requirements. These questions are rarely located on the Common App and take hours to locate on the schools' own applications (if you even know to look for them).

The Essay RoadMap is flexible, too. Each check box next to a school's name can be deselected and the RoadMap can be regenerated using the modified list of schools.

Try it yourself with our free Essay RoadMap preview tool!

What to Avoid in Your Application Essays

Yesterday we touched on some basic tips for improving your writing and making a lasting impression on over-worked admissions officers. Today we'd like to flip the script a bit and show you what not to do in your application essays.

These errors are all too common, and they're the kinds of things that can sink an application for good. Letting yourself be sloppy, cliched, repetitive, or negative won't just make your essays forgettable, they can even actively work against you, ruining whatever goodwill the rest of your application has engendered with the person reading it.

So without further adieu, make sure you never make these common mistakes:

  • Don't litter your essay with quotes from others
  • Don't go thesaurus-happy
  • Don't generalize or stereotype
  • Don’t use profanity or crass humor
  • Don't use stuffy language

Take a look at our more comprehensive list of writing styles to avoid and see what other kinds of common errors you can be sure to look out for.

Tips for Personal Statement and College Essay Writing

Now that we've talked a bit about the essay topics you should consider and those you should avoid, let's talk about your actual writing, and how to easily improve the impression you're making on the admissions officers who will see your pieces.

After a cliched topic, the biggest problem you'll want to avoid is writing in generalities. This note applies to many elements of an essay, but overall, it means that you should identify something that is of importance to you and to talk about it with commitment. Make sure that you are addressing the most specific elements of it that you understand, and that you're focusing on the decisions and actions you made during the event you're writing about.

Avoid phrases like "she's always there for me" or "looking around the room, I realized..." Avoid phrasings that don't tell us what someone is actually doing, saying, or feeling.

Here's a short list of writing suggestions to improve others' sense of your writing:

  • Take a risk
  • Show, don't tell
  • Use specific details
    • General: My uncle Mike has been a huge influence in my life.
    • Specific: My uncle Mike was the man who told me my brother had broken both his legs skiing in the Alps. Mike was the man who took me to the father-son picnic when my dad was ill. And when I found myself in need of help that late Friday night that would forever change my life, it was Mike’s number I dialed.

There are a whole lot more here at CEO's guide for what to do in a college essay.

We would love to hear your ideas or other good examples in the comments.

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Bad College Essay Topics For Your Applications

Sometimes knowing what not to do can be as useful as knowing what you ought to do. There are many essay topics that spring to mind quickly. These ideas can be enticing, too - in many cases they seem to almost write themselves... until you realize that they don't paint a particularly flattering portrait of you, or that the reason they sprung to mind so easily is that you've read essays just like them several times before.

Always look out for cliche! Avoid it like the plague, as well as essay topics that center themselves around your faults or around things that you are not, rather than things that you are.

Any advice about what not to do, of course, always comes with a grain of salt. There are always exceptions, so use this only as a guide. Just make sure that if you cover one of the following topics, you do so in a unique way that highlights your strengths:

  • Crime you've committed
  • Character flaws
  • Excuses for your shortcomings
  • The "Big Game"

This last one might surprise you - the big success at a sporting event is a common topic, and it talks about a positive, emotional event. So why not use it?

It often leads you down very well-worn paths without necessarily telling us much about what you will be able to bring to an academic or social environment. More often than not, these essays focus on one-off events that don't translate to your everyday life. But worse, they aren't memorable.

Picture an admissions officer reading through five hundred essays. Five. Hundred. Essays. How many of these feel the same? How many are about a success in a sporting event? Push further, past cliche and into the elements of who you are that are specific to you and what you do. Things no one else in your school can say.

There are many, many more. Take a look at CEO's list of college essay topics to avoid.

If you have more suggestions of good essay topics (or bad ones), we look forward to seeing them in the comments!

Good College Essay Topics For Your Applications

As students head back to school and the application season starts to really heat up, we thought we'd take this week to focus on things you can do to hone your work and make your writing more memorable to those overworked admissions officers.

One of the most obvious things you can do to make your writing stand out is to choose an exciting, accessible topic for your essay. Of course, many of the prompts will be decided for you, but that doesn't mean the topic is. College applications are known for their broad, interpretable questions that have a surprising amount of flexibility to them if you think about it for a bit.

Here are a few good places to start:

  • What are your favorite activities and hobbies? Why?
  • What are your talents/skills? How did you develop them? Who helped you?
  • Who have been the most influential people in your life?
  • What was your most memorable experience? Best? Worst?
  • How have you changed in the past four years?

We've got more good essay topics for you here. Remember to not always choose the first thing that comes to mind. It's much more important to have a good piece of writing than to just get it over with.