Posted: Sunday, February 10th, 2013 | Filed under: college, college essay, SAT, SAT exam, SAT II | author: By Sarah Mollo-Christensen
Posted: Sunday, January 20th, 2013 | Filed under: College acceptance, college essay, college prep | author: By Sarah Mollo-Christensen
SAT Testing Sign via Flickr: methodshop.com
In the last post, we established that you should probably take the SAT more than once, unless you knock it so far out of the park on your first shot that it really is unnecessary. In a college admissions market where competition and pressure are sky high, however, it’s easy to let things get out of hand. It’s hard to know when to stop, when enough really is enough.
The SAT is offered in January, March, May, June, October, November, and December. Theoretically, you could start in January and go straight through the year, taking it month after month. There are a number of reasons why this would be a bad idea, not the least of which being that it would probably drive you completely crazy. Here are a few others:
Posted: Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: Admissions Essay, College acceptance, College Admissions, college essay | author: By Teddy Bergman
Essay paper via Flickr: mrsdkrebs
Many college applicants write about someone who has influenced them, perhaps a relative, or a teacher, or someone they met through a community service program and built a friendship with. On the face of it, there’s no problem here. I mean, one of the essay choices on the Common App is “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.” So why is this on the “What Not to Write About” list? The reason it’s on here is that all too often, these essays end up being am amazing story about…someone else. Your great-grandmother started her own successful farm during the dust bowl, and ended up adopting twenty children and becoming a well-known landscape painter? Fabulous. I would love to hear that story. Unfortunately, however, your grandmother isn’t applying to college, so unless that essay is more about you than it is about her, it’s not much good to you. This isn’t so much a “don’t” as a warning—if you choose to write about someone who has had a significant influence on you, don’t forget the second half of the essay prompt—the “describe that influence” part. Make sure that the essay is about how knowing that person shaped you into the person you are today.
Posted: Sunday, December 16th, 2012 | Filed under: Admissions Essay, College acceptance, college essay | author: By Teddy Bergman
In a previous blog post we talked about some things that you should avoid in your college essay, these are things that you may be tempted to write about, but that for different reasons does not make a good topic for this essay, you can save some of these topics for self discovery papers that you are bound to write in English 101. Here are a few more topics that we recommend you avoid in your admissions essay.
Many people, teenagers included, have had tragic things happen in their lives that have changed the way they see the world, and influenced the way they choose to live. Students who have experienced tragedies often really want to use them as the topic of their college essays, but essays that deal with tragedies are very tricky. These essays can work, but be careful, and avoid these traps:
- The Bid for Sympathy: Essays about tragic events, if they focus too much on the negative, can sometimes seem like sob stories, or bids for pity.
- The Downer: College admissions officers are plowing through thousands of applications, and reading essay after essay. You want them to feel interested and excited to keep reading, not exhausted and ready to put down your application and reach for the tissues.
- The Essay that Goes Nowhere: “Here is a terrible that happened to me” is not an essay about you; it’s an essay about the terrible thing. If you write about a difficult time or event, you also need to write about how you dealt with it, and what you learned from the experience.
Posted: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 | Filed under: Admissions Essay, college education, college essay, Common app | author: By Sarah Mollo-Christensen
College Admission Essay
None of these topics are ever 100% off-limits (well, except maybe for sex and drugs), but they are extremely difficult to write a college essay about in an effective and compelling way, so much so that we really think it’s not worth it. Consider yourself warned.
Sex and Drugs (you are allowed to write about Rock n’ Roll).
Writing about sex, drugs, or any other inappropriate topics in your college essay isn’t edgy, it’s disrespectful, and it shows that you’re someone who is thinking more about getting a reaction than about communicating something truthful and helpful to the admissions officer reading it.
It’s one of the only two essays on the Common App proper, but it doesn’t get much attention. The extracurricular essay—that 1000 character short essay on the Common App that asks you to briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences” just doesn’t get a lot of love.
“The College Essay” refers to the Personal Statement—the approximately 500-word main essay that the Common App requires applicants to upload, and each college and university has their own supplement, complete with supplemental essays that run the gamut from “Why Tufts?” (Tufts, 2012) to “So where is Waldo, really?” (U Chicago, 2012). The extracurricular essay often gets overlooked (some students and parents aren’t even aware that it’s there until they look at the Common App for the first time). To see this little essay as a throwaway, however, is a big mistake, and a missed opportunity.