College Application Help Line Available

We all need a little help sometimes.

This is a big week in the college application process. Successful early applicants may be able to say goodbye to the process for now, while deferred and rejected applicants may have lots of questions about what happens next. If you're still applying regular decision, you're probably working hard to finish those essays before the January 1 deadline so that you can actually enjoy some of your holiday break. Wherever you are in the process, The New York Times Choice Blog has made a live college application help line available this week.

Marie Bigham, a former college admissions officer and college counselor at Greenhill School in Texas, will be answering questions Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern time. For those who won't be able to tune in, a transcript of the session will be posted on The Choice Thursday morning.

 

 

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Don't Rely on Early Decision. Plan Your Other Essays Now!

Many of you early applicants will be hearing back from your top choices this week, and just in case you find that thin envelope, CEO is extending a new offer to help you get the rest of your applications in order quickly.

50% off all Essay QuickFinder and Essay RoadMap

accounts for individuals during the month of December!

Simply enter the promo code senior9 when you purchase your account.

While you're at it, here are our top 3 tips on what to do if you've been rejected from your top choice:

1. Itemize Your Workload

There’s going to be a lot to do – probably somewhere between six and ten applications in two weeks’ or a month’s time. So before you begin, list all of your work and make sure you have a single source to work from, instead of ten different applications in a pile. Handling such a workload is all about managing your time appropriately.

2. Find other options that are comparable to your first choice

Your first choice is gone. Let it go. But the good news is that there are other options out there that are actually very similar to your top choice in many important ways. In many respects, you’ll even find that they’re better. So do your research if you haven’t already, and find out what else is out there. If you were aiming for Amherst, consider Williams and Brown. If you were aiming for Chapel Hill, think of Ann Arbor and Berkeley. Any one of these places might surprise you if you look a bit further into their many nooks and crannies.

3. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

You’ve got a lot of prompts, but remember that those essays can be handled with fewer essays than you think. After you’ve itemized your workload, consolidate it. Find an efficient way to get things under control, and you may be surprised at how quickly and accurately you can knock these essays out without over-exerting yourself or spreading your interests too thin.

That's where CEO comes in! We'll make sure to save you time and stress, enabling you to focus on writing your best quality essays instead of spreading yourself too thin. Good luck moving forward!

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Early Decision Admission Deadlines Approaching

With most schools' early decision and early action admission deadlines fast approaching, we at CEO want to drop a little wisdom on you:

Don't wait until you hear back to get

started on the rest of your applications.

We see it year in and year out - students put all their eggs in the basket of their dreams, and are then left with a pile of writing to do in a very short window when they receive the dreaded thin envelope.

Remember that college applications, even if you're using the Common Application, are usually made up of several essays, both long and short. And when you're applying to six, eight, ten or even more universities, the amount of writing you may need to do can easily get out of hand.

Head on over to our Essay RoadMap preview and see - for FREE - how many essays your schools will require. Then get started ahead of time and make sure you're using your time wisely while writing as few essays as possible for all your questions.

We're looking to save you time and effort, so get started now. You can thank us later.

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Washington Post: Applicants Apply to Many, Many, Many Schools

Washington Post. Get it? A post? Me neither.

Washington Post. Get it? A post? In Washington? I guess? You have no idea how long we spent looking for an image to put here.

This terrific article over at the Washington Post describes in detail the process that CEO simplifies every day. Top applicants, facing ever-increasing odds against their getting into top schools, diversify their applications and increase the chance they'll land an acceptance from a school at or above their academic level.

Sounds like a plan, right? And why not? There are plenty of horror stories to be had in that article. Perfect SATs. Top grades. Conservatory-level piano skills. A deferral.

But what the Post doesn't address here is that if the process is being made easier and top schools are becoming ever-more selective, what's the downside to applying to more schools?

There isn't one, except for the cost of the applications, which is far outweighed by the potential reward of ending up at a school that brings you up academically, and eventually, professionally and financially.

Take a look at the last line from the article: "I'm feeling it was really smart of me to apply to so many," she said, "because now I have enough options." Speaks for itself.

And with CEO, you can get this work done before that rerun of Seinfeld comes on.

Keep your eye on the ball and you'll see that tools already at your fingertips like CEO make this task easier than ever, often at a very low cost.

New York Times: Applications To Elite Universities Rise Again

...Maybe don't apply early here.

...Maybe don't apply early here.

A brief article posted last week by the New York Times' Education desk confirms that applications to elite American universities rose again this year despite economic hardship. But as always, the number of available spots isn't budging, so the selectivity of those schools continue to increase, and the need for applicants to diversify their applications increases.

Though it might seem dire, there are a number of pieces of good news to take from this. Selectivity increasing at the top means that those schools are stronger than ever. It also means that schools that used to be considered good (or at the very least, good enough) are also improving. Better and better students will find themselves at lower-tier schools, thus raising the quality of the student bodies there.

And what really makes this whole thing not as bad as it seems is that the tools at your disposal have never made applying to school easier or more efficient. Though you'll definitely need to apply to a broader selection of schools to increase the chances you'll be somewhere that satisfies you, tools like CEO can make that task a much more manageable one, often times requiring no additional work from you.

College Essay Writing Help: To Use Humor Or To, You Know, Not?

Think long and hard about how funny you are. Are you funnier than this cat? Are you sure?

Think long and hard about how funny you are. Are you funnier than this cat? Are you sure?

As we have mentioned many times before the college essay is not to be considered a cousin of the typical five-paragraph essay. It is a piece of writing that lends itself to an invention of its form, and in its best cases operates almost like its own genre. Depending on the prompts there can be opportunities to discuss unique experiences, failures, crimes, and misdemeanors. There is also an almost nagging opportunity to write the thing as wittily as possible. For many, that urge is irresistible.

We recognize this desire. We have felt this desire. We demand that you repress this desire.

Why?

Because unless you are simpatico with the admissions officer reading your essay - and have caught him or her in the right mood on the right day - you run the risk of just straight up falling on your face with any gag or tonal shift you attempt. And that is not a risk you can afford to take.

It's not to say that you're not funny - though in our experience you are almost definitely less funny than you think - it's that the shaky likelihood of your reader thinking your humor is good and appropriate to the subject is multiplied against the shaky likelihood that you're funny. Multiply it again by the number of admissions officers who have to read the thing and you've written yourself into a statistical hole.

But the best reason to avoid humor in these essays is the amount of time you're going to spend on the piece. You will be able to much more easily figure out if your essay is good by avoiding humor. You will be able to focus on structural, stylistic, and content elements that are much more easy to quantify. The flip side of that, of course, is that those elements are much more easy to recognize as being well done by the admissions officer, too.

It's not that we don't like funny! We live for funny. It's just that we really live for your admissions success, and that's no laughing matter. Ba-doom-ching.

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More On The University of Chicago Essay Sample

From high above we see... Crazy things afoot.

From high above we see... Crazy things afoot.

The recent problems with the University of Chicago’s admissions department highlight a number of things we should all be aware of regarding the process. First and foremost, it is not a science. There are any number of reasons that can keep you from an acceptance letter, many of which are completely out of your control. Elements such as where you grew up, past histories of applicants similar to you, even the number of kids from your high school applying to the same university can weigh heavily on an admissions officer’s decision if spaces are highly competitive.

But more importantly, recognize that the sample essay the dean of UChicago saw fit to send out was an example of something novel. It gave him a bit of a shock in its approach and its form. It was not the kind of five-paragraph thesis essay the school has seen a thousand times. The writer had an idea and committed to it, and that commitment allowed him to stand out in a spectacular way (perhaps more than he would have liked, in this case!)

You should also notice that it is not the best piece of writing known to man. It is not a work that would make Fitzgerald blush with its superior insight into the human condition. But it is clear. Very clear. It has purpose and intent, and above all, it tells us something about the person reading it that the application cannot. That, above all, should be your goal in developing your application essays.

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What To Do If You’ve Been Rejected Early Decision

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about – there’s always the potential you won’t get into your top choice. If you find the thin envelope in the mailbox this holiday season, regroup quickly, because there’s a lot of work to be done in what is probably a very short period of time.

Frowny, Yes, End Of The World, No.

Frowny, Yes, End Of The World, No.

1. Itemize Your Workload

There’s going to be a lot to do – probably somewhere between six and ten applications in two weeks’ or a month’s time. So before you begin, list all of your work and make sure you have a single source to work from, instead of ten different applications in a pile. Handling such a workload is all about managing your time appropriately.

2. Find other options that are comparable to your first choice

Your first choice is gone. Let it go. But the good news is that there are other options out there that are actually very similar to your top choice in many important ways. In many respects, you’ll even find that they’re better. So do your research if you haven’t already, and find out what else is out there. If you were aiming for Amherst, consider Williams and Brown. If you were aiming for Chapel Hill, think of Ann Arbor and Berkeley. Any one of these places might surprise you if you look a bit further into their many nooks and crannies.

3. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

You’ve got a lot of prompts, but remember that those essays can be handled with fewer essays than you think. After you’ve itemized your workload, consolidate it. Find an efficient way to get things under control, and you may be surprised at how quickly and accurately you can knock these essays out without over-exerting yourself or spreading your interests too thin.

Now if only there were an easy-to-use site that could help…

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