Some people write great college essay's, most others just write essays...the difference is huge!
It's that time of year. Our students will have their college application essay completed by July 31. It will draw and keep interest of the admission counselor. Anything otherwise and a denial can be arrived at quickly.
We have our annual 3-part series on writing the college application essay to show you how we do it. Each part will conclude with an awesome sample essay. Imagine the moment your child's application comes across the computer of an admission counselor for their evaluation. Either it draws and keeps interest or it results in a quick denial, regardless of academic qualifications.
Upon opening the application, a quick check on the student's academic record will be made. The counselor will likely turn to the application essay for a quick read. If found interesting, the counselor may read further and stay on the application. But in many cases, the counselors report they can't get past the first sentence or two of the essay.
In a matter of 5 minutes, the counselor will decide if it's worth their time to continue on with your application or send a denial letter. Don't assume it should be any other way. That's how important the application essay is, it cannot be overstated.
The application essay serves a golden opportunity for the student to demonstrate their ability to write with flow and direction, clarity and insight, meaning and purpose, doing so in a vivid and reflective style gaining immediate interest of the reader and keeping it through to the end. It will correlate a situation or circumstance with present day meaning. It will begin with a Title, provide interesting content, perform the basis for reaching a conclusion, and will tie it all together with a well-constructed ending.
The student's initial job is to pick one of the seven prompts provided on the common application and answer it in 500 - 600 words, where less is more, wordiness is discouraged, and the use of big words and complex terms are highly disliked by the readers. The first prompt has been the most long-lasting. The fourth prompt was new last year and is of significant interest to admissions.
Here are the Application Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Here is a top-quality essay from one of our students, a UPENN student today.
September 6, 2012: I watched the doors slowly close behind me as I scrambled to find a seat on the train. I paused for a moment, wondering if I could pull the alarm bell and get the conductor to stop the train and let me out. Here I was, thirteen years old, on my way to my first day of class at Lauralton Hall, 24 miles from home. Most kids my age were taking the bus to school, excited and having fun with their friends, while I was taking the train. My parents told me the train would be a great experience for me, it would be exciting and fun for me too. What I was experiencing was anything but fun and exciting. They said it was time to grow up. I thought it was time to go to high school. I knew adults commuted to work, but I didn't know kids commuted to school, but here I was sitting on the train waiting for my stop.
Next stop: Fairfield "Fairfield, please watch the gap when exiting the train. Next is Bridgeport," the conductor stated over the speaker system in the train. A flood of men and women in suits stepped aboard the train. I moved my backpack so a woman talking on her cell phone could sit next to me. I tuned her out as I looked out the window and imagined the next four years of my life.
Next stop: Bridgeport "Bridgeport, please watch your step when exiting," the conductor's voice boomed through the speakers once again. I glanced out the window and saw things I had never seen or at least noticed, ramshackle buildings covered in graffiti and garbage lining the streets. Time flew by as I looked out the window at my new surroundings. I anxiously waited as we traveled closer and closer to my destination.
Next stop: Milford "This is Milford, watch the gap please," the conductor declared as I jumped out of my seat, grabbed my backpack, and ran off the train. I stepped out of the doors and onto the platform and this began my journey to my new school, my second home, for the next four years- Lauralton Hall.
Three years later, in looking back to those early days, I realize how far I've come and in many ways. First of all, I'm proud that I have taken this train six hundred times going to school and six hundred times returning home without missing it once. Every morning, I wake up on a tight schedule with a sense of urgency to get to the platform on time because the train truly waits for no one. I've learned to make good use of my time while on the train, studying for tests, doing next week's homework, and preparing for the day ahead. I have had to adopt this level of discipline and responsibility on my own. To make it work day in and day out, I've had to own it.
I have spent three years commuting to my own job- school. Sure, I could have quit, and decided to attend my local high school with my neighborhood friends, but no, in the face of the challenge, I have persevered and continued. Every time I step on the train I am reminded of that first day and my thought of pulling the alarm bell, but I have adapted and am much the better for it. Only two hundred more roundtrips to go.
When I look to my college days ahead, I am a well-seasoned traveler, prepared and determined to see it through. I am ready to embrace the challenges, adapt to the new environment, and contribute to the college community. I'm excited for the opportunity to expand my own perspectives while in college and I hope to contribute the same to my new group of students and educators. I look forward to my next commute of walking to class on a college campus. Next stop: college.
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