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.

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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Harvard University Returns To Early Action for 2012

Harvard Shield

November 1 comes quickly, little crimsonites.

In 2007, Harvard eliminated its Early Action program and required that everyone send in applications on the same date, January 1st, but this year, it returns to Early Action, with the first round of applications due on November 1, 2011.

The move in 2007 was seen as a reaction against the increasingly competitive admissions environment in America, and many applauded the effort. But other popular schools took this as a competitive advantage and did not follow suit, so Harvard has done its applicants a favor by sparing them the difficult choice of a binding decision from another school when they'd really like to take a shot at Harvard.

Early Action and Early Decision programs certainly increase the pressure on students and parents alike - decisions are often made with a limited amount of information and on very short timetables, but they have their upsides for schools, allowing them to increase yields and fill large portions of their classes with students that are sure to attend.

This decision - coming from the top, as it were - should be read as a firm statement that Early Action and Early Decsion programs are here to stay. Get your work done as early as you can, do your homework, and learn as much as you can about your top choices before committing to your number one school.

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The Common App for 2011/2012 is Live

That's right. The wait is over.

The Common App went live yesterday officially beginning the application process for the class of 2016. The Common App, now totaling 456 schools, has added 45 new members this year, including Caldwell College, Howard University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

College Essay Organizer is now in the thick of the updating process, keeping track of all the new changes and supplemental essay questions for you. Expect hundreds of updates by the end of the week!

We continue to receive feedback on how College Essay Organizer is the perfect partner for using the Common App. It instantly delivers not only the supplemental essay questions, but also the department-specific questions and scholarship questions, which are often not included in the Common App. Check here for some great tips on how to use College Essay Organizer and the Common App to write winning essays.

New York Times Analyzes Most Expensive Schools In America

Department of EducationWith perfect timing, the New York Times has presented the flip side of our previous post about the value of pursuing scholarships, analyzing the Education Department's recent release of its database of the most expensive colleges and universities in America.

The rise in cost of education in America is clearly outstripping inflation, household income, or any other benchmark against which tuition increases of America's not-for-profit universities could be measured year over year. So what is to be done about the astronomical costs incoming freshmen are facing?

The answer is found in the data itself, and in the public response from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (the school with the dubious distinction of being the most expensive four-year not-for-profit school in America). Increase the amount of financial aid available to students of lesser means.

Scholarships are at a higher premium than ever before, so make sure to do your homework this summer and apply to as many as you can find. In many ways, such applications are a numbers game - the more you can find, the less you'll pay up front.

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New York Times Addresses The Importance Of the College Essay

New York TimesThe New York Times posted an in-depth and informative piece this past weekend about the growing number of applicants to American universities from other countries, and how important the college essay is for gaining an edge.  The problem the article describes is simple: the number of overseas applicants is skyrocketing, increasing at more than 50% a year, every year, and the number of slots available in each school's incoming class is staying the same. With competition becoming ever more aggressive, the cost of advising and essay help is reaching into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per student. While most independent consultants are wonderful, helpful guides, some are willing to rewrite every element of an applicant's essay, or even write it for the student outright.

College Essay Organizer is the ethical solution to this problem. We have been helping foreign students navigate the lengthy and complex essay process for years, and as with all of College Essay Organizer's members, we do it quickly and at a low cost. With the circuitous application system we have in America, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. College Essay Organizer is a one-stop shop for your essay requirements, allowing you to work smarter and spend your time efficiently on the work you have to do, rather than the enormous amount that it seems you have to do.

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Answering More Questions From Independent Consultants

This week we're featuring answers to fifteen frequently asked questions from Independent Counselors and other academic consultants about College Essay Organizer. Here's the last of the fifteen. If you have more questions, please let us know.

13. Is there anything that I can do to improve the format when printing the RoadMap results?

We have added functionality to remove any questions, which will reduce the length of your printed document as much as you choose. If you are copying and pasting into a Word document, you can reduce the amount of space between lines by making sure the document is single-spaced with zero paragraph spacing before and after each line (look for this setting in the Alignment and Spacing section of the formatting palette). If you have further questions about formatting your RoadMap for your students and their families, please just send us an email and we'll be happy to help you out.

You may want to consider giving your clients access to their CEO accounts, rather than printing out reports, as many consultants have found that sharing CEO with their clients serves two key purposes: first, it validates the need for your services, as CEO demonstrates the sheer magnitude of the essay process; second, it delivers a clear plan that parents can follow if they wish and empowers students to work more efficiently and proactively on their own.


14. Will you be adding essay questions for transfer students?

We don't have enough demand for transfer applicants at this point in time. Most students who want to transfer typically apply to only one or two specific colleges, making CEO less useful to them.


15. Do you value customer service?

We place great value on our customers, and provide quick and accurate responses to all inquiries. We are always available by email and phone to further discuss how we can improve your experience if you feel anything is in need of improvement.

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Answering More Questions From Independent Consultants

This week we're featuring answers to fifteen frequently asked questions from Independent Counselors and other academic consultants about College Essay Organizer. Here's the next bunch, and if you have more questions, please let us know.

11. Is there always a word or character count listed for every essay?

We always include the listed word or character limit for each question if it is provided on the application. Instances in which essay lengths are listed as "Short space provided" (or something similar) refer to physical limits on a paper application. When there are discrepancies between the stated lengths of questions in the online and paper applications, CEO lists the questions for the online application.


12. How useful are College Essay Organizer's essay samples?

We post what we deem to be "very strong" essays. We have found that posting truly exceptional essays intimidates students who are poor writers or are uncomfortable writing about themselves. We'll be adding more samples this year, which should give your students a broader range of essay topics to review.

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Answering More Questions From Independent Consultants

This week we're featuring answers to fifteen frequently asked questions from Independent Counselors and other academic consultants about College Essay Organizer. Here's the next bunch, and if you have more questions, please let us know.

7. I found that I did not use the RoadMap as much as I could have. Do you have any suggestions to help me make better use of it?

The RoadMap provides a suggested plan for organizing your essay questions and shows the overlapping themes among your essays. But one of its best features is that it provides as many topic options as possible for each essay that the student needs to write. Take advantage of this flexibility! It is ultimately up to the independent consultant and the student to relate the student's life to the broad themes addressed by the essay questions. But choose your topics carefully and specifically. It will make the writing process quicker and simpler, and increase the quality of the essays.

We are always improving the RoadMap's functionality and ease of use. We have greatly simplified the layout of the RoadMap, and have added note-taking and essay uploading features to make CEO your one-stop source for guiding students through the essay writing process.

If you would like to go over these upgrades individually, or find out how to optimize your clients' experience using CEO, please let us know and we'll arrange a private demo with Dan Stern, our president. We're confident you'll find that the new and improved CEO will guide students more clearly and successfully.


8. Will you be adding any additional tutorials for independent consultants?

We will be including additional resources to help new users this coming season, including live webinars that explain how to best use CEO and that cover various essay topics. We will also include materials you can share with clients that allow them to optimize their CEO experience. Though these additions aren't required to use CEO or understand its benefits, they can help improve the experience for all.


9. Is it possible to buy only the QuickFinder for my clients?

We do not currently offer QuickFinder-only accounts through the Master Account platform.


10. Why not?

We have developed the RoadMap around the QuickFinder format, allowing the RoadMap to function as a flexible, modifiable QuickFinder. Now that we've added an essay-sharing platform to make communication between you and your students even easier, CEO has become a one-stop shop for the college essay writing process. We see the RoadMap as the core of that experience. The overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the RoadMap, as well as the upgrades that make the RoadMap even easier to interpret now, makes clear that this is the best approach for our users.

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Finding Your Authentic Voice (With Some Help From Your Fan Club)

Avery Educational Resources

Today's post comes courtesy
Erin Avery at Avery Educational Resources


Today's blog post is from Erin Avery, an independent educational consultant based in Fair Haven, New Jersey, who specializes in the college and boarding school search and application process. A graduate of Oxford and Yale, Avery is a Certified Educational Planner and creator of CollegeApp, available on the App Store. You can learn more about her and her services at averyeducation.com.

Ed. Consultant Erin Avery: “So, where geographically are you considering attending college?”
Son: “I don’t know…I was thinking of maybe an island.”
Father: “Yeah, Long Island.”

Yesterday, I sat beside a father and son duo, not unlike many cradled in the inner sanctum of my office’s worn leather armchairs. Often, as depicted above, parent and child come with divergent perspectives: rightfully so based on their respective worldviews and life experiences.

This is why I always welcome parents, guardians or other loving stakeholders to participate in the all-important Essay Brainstorming Session. The results are phenomenal. The invited “guests” act as time capsules, jogging the student’s memory of past notable examples of characteristics demonstrated, or character embodied. They may recall that precise anecdote that illustrates the quintessence of the student. Ultimately, if it is conducted properly, the essay brainstorming session is akin to a love-fest wherein the student hears and has mirrored back to him or her a chorus of voices affirming his or her unique gifts to the world.

In my role as an educational consultant, I have to admit, I am always scanning my conversations with you, my client, for “essay-worthy” content. I simply can’t help it. I have met myriad teens in my near decade of private practice. By employing my strength-based methodology, I passionately echo back to each student how incredible I find him or her. High school students never cease to astound me! While peers and society attempt to smother teens with the gag order of conformity, I bathe you in affirmation for your daily courage to choose to be yourself.

I have seen my share of Eagle Scouts, Congressional Medalists, National Merit Finalists, Point and Figure Charting experts, even oyster gardeners, and the accolades continue. Yet be mindful that the most profound essay topics need not be the most cataclysmic. At a symposium last spring, the New Jersey reader from GW shared, as she welled up with tears, that her favorite essay amid her applicant pool was written by a student portraying the profound impact on him of his parents’ 25-year marriage. (Her second favorite essay topic was on the sneaker-odor of the applicant’s car.) Your story can (and often must) be drawn from the quotidian, everyday seventeen year-old lived experience. Do not grant one instant to counterproductive feelings of inadequacy if you have not yet discovered a cure for cancer (but get on that, would you?). Rather, own who you are and where you are. If you are presently staring at a blank screen, go grab a decaf frappuccino with someone who loves you and if you are too embarrassed to ask them blatantly to sing your praises, ask him or her what s/he would say at your funeral (morbid, yes, but effective!). Still stumped? Google and read “The Desiderata”. Works like a charm.

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