In fact, just because it’s a shorter supplement doesn’t mean you should leave it for last. The “Why this college?” supplement is actually one of the hardest essays to answer. Ideally, you would’ve visited the campus, researched the school, and spoken to former alums to really know the answer. But not everyone has the privilege (or money) to travel to see schools, Luckily, I have some shortcuts for you.Read More
TOPIC 1: Redefining The Idea of Masculinity While Growing Up With Two Moms
SUCCESS RATE: Accepted to all 10 schools he applied to, including Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Yale University, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
WHY IT WORKED: Colleges want to see exceptional students who overcome adversity because it shows strength and students are not afraid to challenge societal norms, because that takes risk. This essay manages to convey both at once.
"As an admissions officer, I analyzed students' personalities. If I read an admissions essay, and the student came off as arrogant, entitled, mean, selfish, or, on the flip side, funny, charming, generous, witty, I wrote that exact trait in my notes. It's not enough just to be smart at top schools. Students must also show that they'll be good classmates and community builders."—Angela Dunnham, Former Assistant Director of Admissions, Dartmouth College [Business Insider]Read More
I know you're supposed to “show don't tell.” How do I do that, exactly?
The best way to show is to use anecdotes, specific examples, and lots of detail. Telling is saying, “I am curious.” Showing is describing an anecdote where you got in trouble with your parents because you snuck into the cabinet and ate coffee beans just because you were curious. Picture your essay as a screenplay and that will help.
Writing the admissions essay is so stressful that I don't blame students for reading about seemingly easy, out-of-the-box approaches and thinking, well, if it worked for this guy, why not me? The problem with such methods, though, is you're not the only one thinking that. Once an admissions trick becomes a trend (and a national news story), it's no longer out of the box. Translation: instead of looking creative, you look lazy.Read More
"Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community."Read More
Let's establish something from the start: admissions essays are freaking hard. Most schools don't emphasize personal essays in their academic curriculum, so it's not surprising that many students struggle with the form. Unless you're a creative writing prodigy, you may not know how to be confessional without revealing TMI, how to impress strangers without being annoying, and how to write well without sounding like a blowhard. Here are five newbie mistakes any senior should avoid in their personal statement, from Ivy League valedictorians to veteran admissions reps.Read More
Your parents may be asking if you heard about high-school senior Brittany Stinson, who is making the Internet rounds for her acceptance to not one, but FIVE Ivy League schools (Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Cornell). Oh, and Stanford, which has an acceptance rate of 4.69%.
The lucky overachiever spoke with Business Insider to explain how she came up with her winning essay topic about...Costco. Yup the wholesale giant suburban parents swear by. Here's what you can learn from her brilliant idea.Read More
The hardest part of any writing assignment is where to start—even for professional writers. The pressure is even worse when it's the one essay that could help determine your future.
Be prepared to go through multiple topics and even drafts before landing the right approach. (It's a little easier if you have some help). I recommend using the summer to start writing and see what clicks. The topic should reveal who you are, what you're passionate about, and how it makes you the perfect fit at your dream school.
The New York Times recently revealed a major red flag in the admissions essay: the cliched community service trip. In Frank Bruni's column, "To Get to Harvard, Go to Haiti?" he explains how disingenuous that idea comes across:
It turns developing-world hardship into a prose-ready opportunity for growth, empathy into an extracurricular activity.Read More