At CATES, we’ve found that the best essays don’t deal with saving the world, overcoming a terrible personal tragedy, or climbing Mount Everest — instead, they:
The college essay (or personal statement) is one of the most stressed-over parts of a college application. Students fear the college essay because they don’t know what to write about, and can never find the time to work on it amongst piles of homework, tests, sports and extracurriculars during Senior year. Parents dread the college essay because they end up spending hours proofreading or nagging to get it done.
Bottom line, it is difficult. But it’s also one of your only chances to speak for yourself on your college application, and let colleges get to know you a little. In that sense, the personal statement is kind of an amazing opportunity for you to showcase something about yourself that might not show up elsewhere on your application, like a sense of humor, a particular passion, or the way you approach a challenge.
Even if you do want to write about an impressive accomplishment, you’re better off focusing on some small aspect of that story that shows a moment when you struggled, and how you dealt with it. If, for example, you did climb Everest, the story of how you overcame your initial awkwardness and pushed yourself to get to know the locals and their culture, even though you felt like a red-faced tourist at first, would make a far more successful and interesting essay than the story of your flawless summit success.
At CATES, we know the ins and outs and dos and don'ts of the personal statement (along with the other required essays, like the short answer, and college supplements). Our essay experts work with you on your schedule, at your home, to help you brainstorm, write, and polish an amazing college essay that shows you in the best light, sounds like you (rather than a thesaurus), and, most importantly, that you’re proud of.
There is a lot of confusion over the college interview, and how important it is in the admissions process. The weight it is given depends on a number of factors—is it a formal interview, with an admissions officer at the college, or an informal chat with an alumnus at a coffee shop? Is it a group information session, or a sit down with the coach of the sports team you hope to join? In our experience, an interview is probably not going to make or break your chances of getting in. However, it is a great opportunity to you're your interest in the school and what you have to offer a college community, and also get some information about the school in return.
At CATES, we can help you prepare for whichever type of interview you’re facing. Students come to us from all over the New York metropolitan area - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester and Long Island - to learn what interviewers are looking for and what questions they may ask. We help you prep for the interview, and coach you through mock interviews.
Many of our clients attend schools with excellent college counseling programs, and at CATES we work in coordination with our students’ advisors, helping our students manage and complete the materials their counseling experts require. In our private tutoring sessions, we follow the counselor’s lead, and help the student execute the counselor's vision.
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