Jump-start the College Essay Process

Start brainstorming for the college essay process

The blistering heat of summer brings lazy, lethargic days. What smarter way to spend these hours than to jump-start the college essay process? The New York Times Choice Blog just posted a college application checklist here, recommending seniors to take advantage of summertime freedom and begin writing required essays before the school year begins.

Although the Common Application does not go live until August 1, 2012, many colleges and universities release supplemental essay questions during the summer, and the Common Application’s long and short essays have been confirmed. To keep track of these early releases, be sure to create your College Essay Organizer account now, as schools are updated as early as possible.

Simply brainstorming ideas when you have free time will pay off in the long run. Ann E. Selvetti of the New York Times advises seniors to “Give yourself the gift of time for the fall by getting as much done as possible this summer. Every year, seniors lament frittering away their summertime instead of using it to get a head start.” So instead of sunbathing on your deck this afternoon, grab a pencil and notepad and start jotting down ideas for your essay questions. When the cold autumn wind blows into town, you will thank yourself for starting early.

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Take a Moment to De-Stress

When you're starting to feel like this, watch our videos.

May 13, 2012

For juniors starting to contemplate the anxieties of the college application process up ahead, we wanted to pass on these great stress buster videos, which will definitely release some of that tension. In addition, stay tuned in to our blog as we regularly post updates on how to stay on top of the process. We also hold free webinars throughout the season, allowing for individual questions to be addressed.



Essay on Family Values

Colleges may ask you to describe your family, but what they are often trying to understand is the type of values your family hold. This student creatively responds to the question by not only talking about his family, but also his friends and the way he views others with an open mind. 

Every high school has its stereotypical cliques. The jocks, the nerds, the popular ones, and on and on. I have always found these labels so narrow-minded and unfair. I move comfortably from one group to another, always at ease with whom I am among. But some friends don’t understand this. Sometimes I am with a friend and am told that I can’t bring him to some get-together going on elsewhere. I either defend my friend or simply don’t meet up with the others, but I would never abandon him. Respect is the cornerstone of any true friendship, and I have always valued the differences that others embody.

Differences are what I am all about. My father is a French-Lebanese immigrant who moved to the United States in 1979, while my mother is a native Brazilian who came to the US in 1978. They both arrived in America eager to explore their new opportunities and discover different parts of their existing identities, and this hunger for adventure and possibility has been cultivated in me.

Their upbringings have created vast distinctions between my home life and that of my friends. My parents’ cultural backgrounds stress a greater emphasis on the family unit, whereas my friends tend to be pushed into more individualistic roles that prioritize the importance of doing things on their own.

Then there is also the matter of travel. I have visited many different countries and every vacation must be a family trip. We’re more travelers than tourists, looking to experience different nations and peoples from the inside perspective. I’m sure this is largely because of my experience going so often to Brazil. I travel there yearly, spending two or three months there each year. As a Brazilian citizen fluent in Portuguese, with family in Rio de Janeiro, I am able to mingle with the culture from the inside.

This diverse background, especially in the most multicultural city in the world, has given me a very unique perspective on life. When many people mention the term “diversity,” it is often just a concept or a word. It has little relevance to their actual lives. For me, diversity is my life, and this diversity of background has opened me to political movements, social ideas, and personal attitudes that more traditional Americans might not be receptive to. As a result, I am able to look beyond a limited perspective and consider issues in more global terms.


Colleges Updated in College Essay Organizer for the 2011/2012 Application Season

Here is a list of colleges that have been updated for the 2011/2012 application season in College Essay Organizer through August 25th. Expect this list to continue to grow each week.

  1. Agnes Scott College
  2. Albright College
  3. Alfred University
  4. Allegheny College
  5. Alma College
  6. American University
  7. American University of Paris
  8. American University of Rome
  9. Amherst College
  10. Arcadia University
  11. Arizona State University
  12. Auburn University
  13. Augustana College
  14. Austin College
  15. Babson College
  16. Baldwin-Wallace College
  17. Bard College at Simon's Rock
  18. Barnard College
  19. Barry University
  20. Bates College
  21. Baylor University
  22. Belmont University
  23. Beloit College
  24. Benedict College
  25. Bennington College
  26. Bentley University
  27. Berea College
  28. Berklee College of Music
  29. Berry College
  30. Birmingham-Southern College
  31. Bloomfield College
  32. Boise State University
  33. Boston University
  34. Bowdoin College
  35. Bowling Green State University
  36. Bradley University
  37. Brevard College
  38. Brigham Young University-Provo
  39. Brown University
  40. Bryant University
  41. Bryn Mawr College
  42. Bucknell University
  43. Butler University
  44. Cabrini College
  45. California College of the Arts
  46. California Institute of Technology
  47. California Lutheran University
  48. California State University-Bakersfield
  49. California State University-East Bay
  50. California State University-Fullerton
  51. California State University-Long Beach
  52. California State University-Monterey Bay
  53. Calvin College
  54. Campbell University
  55. Carleton College
  56. Carnegie Mellon University
  57. Carroll University
  58. Catholic University of America
  59. Cedar Crest College
  60. Centenary College of Louisiana
  61. Centre College
  62. Chatham University
  63. Christendom College
  64. Christian Brothers University in TN
  65. Claremont McKenna College
  66. Clark Atlanta University
  67. Clarkson University
  68. Clemson University
  69. Coe College
  70. Colgate University
  71. College of Idaho
  72. College of New Jersey
  73. College of St. Benedict
  74. College of the Atlantics
  75. College of the Holy Cross
  76. College of the Ozarks
  77. College of Wooster
  78. Colorado College
  79. Colorado Mesa University
  80. Colorado School of Mines
  81. Columbia College Chicago
  82. Columbia University
  83. Connecticut College
  84. Cornell University
  85. Creighton University
  86. Daemen College
  87. Dartmouth College
  88. Davidson College
  89. Delaware State University
  90. Denison University
  91. DePauw University
  92. Drake University
  93. Drexel University
  94. Duke University
  95. Duquesne University
  96. Earlham College
  97. Eastern Mennonite University
  98. Elmira College
  99. Elon University
  100. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott
  101. Emory and Henry College
  102. Emory University
  103. Erskine College
  104. Eugene Lang College
  105. Fairfield University
  106. Fisher College (MA)
  107. Fisk University
  108. Flagler College
  109. Florida Atlantic University
  110. Florida Institute of Technology
  111. Florida International University
  112. Florida Southern College
  113. Florida State University
  114. Fordham University
  115. Franklin and Marshall College
  116. Franklin Pierce University
  117. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  118. Fresno Pacific University
  119. Furman University
  120. Gannon University
  121. George Fox University
  122. Georgetown College
  123. Georgetown University
  124. Georgia College and State University
  125. Georgia Institute of Technology
  126. Georgia Southern University
  127. Gonzaga University
  128. Gordon College
  129. Goshen College
  130. Goucher College
  131. Green Mountain College
  132. Grinnell College
  133. Guilford College
  134. Hamilton College
  135. Hampshire College
  136. Hampton University
  137. Hanover College
  138. Harvard College
  139. Hastings College
  140. Hendrix College
  141. High Point University
  142. Hillsdale College
  143. Hiram College
  144. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  145. Hollins University
  146. Hood College
  147. Illinois Institute of Technology
  148. Indiana University
  149. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  150. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
  151. Indiana Wesleyan University
  152. Iowa State University
  153. Jacksonville University
  154. John Carroll University
  155. Kansas State University
  156. Keene State College
  157. Kenyon College
  158. Knox College
  159. La Salle University
  160. Lake Forest College
  161. Lees-McRae College
  162. Lehigh University
  163. Lenoir-Rhyne University
  164. Lesley College
  165. Linfield College
  166. Longwood University
  167. Louisiana State University
  168. Louisiana Tech University
  169. Loyola Marymount University
  170. Loyola University Maryland
  171. Loyola University New Orleans
  172. Lynchburg College
  173. Lyon College
  174. Macalester College
  175. Macaulay Honors
  176. Maine College of Art
  177. Marlboro College
  178. Marquette University
  179. Marshall University
  180. Marymount Manhattan College
  181. Marymount University (VA)
  182. Maryville College
  183. Marywood University
  184. Massachusetts College of Art & Design
  185. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  186. McDaniel College
  187. Menlo College
  188. Mercyhurst College
  189. Methodist University
  190. Miami University (OH)
  191. Michigan Technological University
  192. Middlebury College
  193. Mills College
  194. Millsaps College
  195. Misericordia University
  196. Mississippi College
  197. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  198. Monmouth College
  199. Monmouth University
  200. Moravian College
  201. Morgan State University
  202. Mount Union College
  203. Murray State University
  204. Muskingum College
  205. Nebraska Wesleyan University
  206. New College of Florida
  207. New England College
  208. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  209. Newbury College
  210. Norfolk State University
  211. Northeastern University
  212. Northern Arizona University
  213. Northland College
  214. Northwestern University
  215. Nova Southeastern University
  216. Oberlin College
  217. Occidental College
  218. Ohio Northern University
  219. Ohio State University-Columbus
  220. Oklahoma State University
  221. Otterbein University
  222. Pacific Union College
  223. Palm Beach Atlantic University
  224. Paul Smith's College
  225. Pepperdine University
  226. Piedmont College
  227. Pitzer College
  228. Pomona College
  229. Post University
  230. Prescott College
  231. Princeton University
  232. Principia College
  233. Purdue University-West Lafayette
  234. Quinnipiac University
  235. Ramapo College of New Jersey
  236. Randolph College
  237. Randolph-Macon College
  238. Reed College
  239. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  240. Rhodes College
  241. Rice University
  242. Ripon College
  243. Roanoke College
  244. Rochester Institute of Technology
  245. Roger WIlliams University
  246. Roosevelt University
  247. Rosemont College
  248. Sacred Heart University
  249. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
  250. Saint Joseph's University
  251. Saint Louis University
  252. Saint Mary's College (CA)
  253. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  254. Saint Michael's College
  255. Saint Vincent College
  256. Salisbury University
  257. San Francisco State University
  258. Sarah Lawrence College
  259. Scripps College
  260. Seattle University
  261. Sewanee: The University of the South
  262. Shenandoah University
  263. Skidmore College
  264. Smith College
  265. South Carolina State University
  266. South Dakota State University
  267. Southern Methodist University
  268. Southern New Hampshire University
  269. Southwestern University
  270. Spelman College
  271. Springfield College
  272. St. Edward's University
  273. St. John's College (MD)
  274. St. John's College (NM)
  275. St. Lawrence University
  276. St. Mary's College of Maryland
  277. St. Mary's University of San Antonio
  278. St. Olaf College
  279. Stanford University
  280. State University of New York-College at Brockport
  281. State University of New York-University at Buffalo
  282. State University of New York at Albany
  283. State University of New York at Buffalo State College
  284. State University of New York at Cortland
  285. State University of New York at Fredonia
  286. State University of New York at Geneseo
  287. State University of New York at New Paltz
  288. State University of New York at Old Westbury
  289. State University of New York at Oswego
  290. State University of New York at Plattsburgh
  291. State University of New York at Potsdam
  292. Stephens College
  293. Sterling College
  294. Stevens Institute of Technology
  295. Suffolk University
  296. Susquehanna University
  297. Swarthmore College
  298. Sweet Briar College
  299. Syracuse University
  300. Temple University
  301. Texas A&M University-College Station
  302. Texas A&M University-Galveston
  303. Texas Christian University
  304. Texas State University
  305. Texas Tech University
  306. The University of New England
  307. Touro College
  308. Trinity College (CT)
  309. Trinity University
  310. Truman State University
  311. Tufts University
  312. Tusculum College
  313. Tuskegee University
  314. Union College
  315. United States Air Force Academy
  316. United States Merchant Marine Academy
  317. University of Alabama
  318. University of Alabama-Huntsville
  319. University of Arizona
  320. University of Bridgeport
  321. University of California-Berkeley
  322. University of California-Davis
  323. University of California-Irvine
  324. University of California-Los Angeles
  325. University of California-Merced
  326. University of California-Riverside
  327. University of California-San Diego
  328. University of California-Santa Barbara
  329. University of California-Santa Cruz
  330. University of Central Florida
  331. University of Chicago
  332. University of Cincinnati
  333. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  334. University of Colorado-Boulder
  335. University of Connecticut
  336. University of Dayton
  337. University of Denver
  338. University of Evansville
  339. University of Findlay
  340. University of Florida
  341. University of Georgia
  342. University of Great Falls
  343. University of Idaho
  344. University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  345. University of Iowa
  346. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  347. University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  348. University of Maryland-College Park
  349. University of Miami
  350. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  351. University of Minnesota-Morris
  352. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  353. University of Mississippi
  354. University of Missouri-Columbia
  355. University of Missouri-Kansas city
  356. University of Montana
  357. University of Montevallo
  358. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  359. University of New Hampshire
  360. University of New Hampshire at Manchester
  361. University of North Carolina-Asheville
  362. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  363. University of North Dakota
  364. University of North Texas
  365. University of Northern Colorado
  366. University of Notre Dame
  367. University of Oklahoma
  368. University of Oregon
  369. University of Pittsburgh
  370. University of Redlands
  371. University of Rhode Island
  372. University of Richmond
  373. University of San Diego
  374. University of San Francisco
  375. University of Scranton
  376. University of South Dakota
  377. University of Southern California
  378. University of Southern Maine
  379. University of Southern Mississippi
  380. University of St. Thomas
  381. University of Tampa
  382. University of Tennessee
  383. University of Texas-Austin
  384. University of Texas-El Paso
  385. University of Tulsa
  386. University of Utah
  387. University of Vermont
  388. University of Victoria
  389. University of Virginia
  390. University of Washington-Seattle
  391. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  392. University of Wyoming
  393. Ursinus College
  394. Utah State University
  395. Utica College
  396. Valdosta State University
  397. Valparaiso University
  398. Vanderbilt University
  399. Vassar College
  400. Villanova University
  401. Virginia Tech
  402. Wagner College
  403. Wake Forest University
  404. Warren Wilson College
  405. Washington and Jefferson College
  406. Washington and Lee University
  407. Washington College
  408. Washington University in St. Louis
  409. Webb Institute
  410. Wells College
  411. Wesleyan College
  412. Wesleyan University
  413. West Virginia University
  414. Western Michigan University
  415. Westminster College (MO)
  416. Westminster College (PA)
  417. Westminster College of Salt Lake City
  418. Westmont College
  419. Wheaton College
  420. Wheaton College (IL)
  421. Wheelock College (MA)
  422. Whittier College
  423. Wilkes University
  424. Willamette University
  425. Winona State University (MN)
  426. Wofford College
  427. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  428. Wright State University
  429. Xavier University (OH)
  430. York College of Pennsylvania

The Importance of August

Shereem Herndon-Brown is the Founder and President of Strategic Admissions Advice, LLC. He is a former Admissions Officer from Georgetown University, college counselor at three private schools and Director of Middle and Upper School Admission. An Associate Member of IECA, he has clients around the country particularly in New York City, Atlanta and Dallas. http://www.strategicadmissionsadvice.com

Although there is no immediate application deadline looming, August is an intense month in our industry. With the Common Application becoming available and colleges releasing supplements, we are bombarded with “start now!!” The anxiety surrounding the college application process is upon us and, rightfully and respectively so, many of us want our kids to start early. Waiting until when school starts is dangerous and should be avoided. Too often we allow our kids to wait, and with the possibility of fall standardized testing, the inevitability of quizzes or papers on summer reading and, naturally, the emotional ups and downs of leaving home in twelve short months, the school year becomes hectic and unnecessary stress ensues.

For me, August marks the time that kids have to get serious. Whether or not they drafted a personal essay last spring or in July, there is no denying that they must do it now. Couple that with Early Decision, Early Action and Rolling deadlines a mere ten to fourteen weeks away, and I want them to be proactive and gearing up for the ride.

Having clients in New York City means 16-hour workdays for the next three months. Almost all of my students will have an early-something deadline. From August through October, I meet with students, review applications and writings online and have daily “calming” phone calls to soothe parental nerves.

Admittedly though, I am excited for this time of year. I desperately want my enthusiasm and energy to be contagious. I encourage my students to use this month, this last glimmer of late sleeping and long evenings, to create application accounts and enter in basic data while watching an evening baseball game. Once they do that I suggest that they can leave a printed copy of the CEO-produced supplemental essays on their kitchen tables and let their parents suggest ideas for questions like “Tell us about an experience in which you left your comfort zone. How did this experience change you?” (University of Richmond). And finally, I implore them to brainstorm, outline and write multiple drafts of the all-important personal essay without the hovering thought of a Physics Lab or TS Eliot paper.

I want my students to flourish within this process and learn more about who they are and which schools can help them to achieve their goals. I think August and not procrastinating can foster this. Will they produce final drafts of essays? Probably not, but starting now versus on October 10th with a November 15th deadline is preferable any day of the week.

College Essay Organizer's New Alert System Is Live

College Essay Organizer has created a new alert system to allow students and counselors to communicate with each other directly. This system simplifies the collaboration process between student and counselor, and instantly tells each user when new essay drafts or notes are ready to be reviewed.

With this easy-to-use alert system, College Essay Organizer functions as a comprehensive tool for the entire college essay process. Members are already telling us how much easier this makes everything. And that's what we're all about: making applying to college simple, stress-free and successful. Now go enjoy your last weekend of July before the Common App goes live on Monday!

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Start Working on Your College Essays this Summer

Alan Gelb is an author and educational consultant specializing on the college essay process.  He has written “Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Step” and “The Complete Student: Achieving Success in College and Beyond”

Alan Gelb offers some practical advice for juniors in this posting on the New York Times Choice blog. While juniors should be thinking about their college lists and beefing up their resumes with some non-academic, real-world experience this summer, they should also be taking advantage of some of their downtime to turn their attention to their college essays.

Gelb writes, “These less hurried months before the onslaught of a highly pressured fall offer the chance for students to think, reflect and connect with a writing topic that can then be developed into 500 words of polished prose.” We wholeheartedly agree, and his practical tips will definitely help your mind to slow down and get your creative juices flowing as you begin to discover and explore your essay topic.

IECA Highlights CEO in Its Current Newsletter

College Essay Organizer ("CEO") is excited to be highlighted in this Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) newsletter. More than 150 IECA members have signed on with CEO in our first season, and we look forward to more members taking advantage of CEO’s valuable tool that instantly streamlines the college essay process.

The IECA has been a leading force in promoting innovative tools that improve the efficiency of consulting practices. Thanks to the feedback of our independent consultant members, CEO will be incorporating the following new features this season:

  • Student accounts will increase from 15 to 20 college selections.
  • The Essay RoadMap will be even easier to interpret, with an alternate viewing format and the ability to hide essay questions not relevant to an applicant.
  • Independent consultants will have the ability to upload essay drafts and share notes with their clients within the CEO platform; no need to email back and forth anymore.
  • Marketing potential will be optimized: you can co-brand your CEO accounts with your company logo
  • IECA members can become guest bloggers, promoting their services on CEO’s heavily trafficked site and sharing important tips and stories about their experiences working with students’ essays.
  • IECA will orchestrate FREE instructional webinars for introductory and training purposes for IECA members and their clients.
  • CEO will have a separate area that allows visitors to our site to connect with IECA members in their area.
  • Exclusive IECA discounts will be shared directly by IECA headquarters in the coming weeks.

To join IECA and learn about their great services, click here.