Learn about how a student-led Strategic Educational & College Admissions Plan makes essay writing manageable and authentic!
Common App Essays– The COVID-19 Prompt returns,
There’s a new Core/Personal Statement Prompt
College Specific Supplement Essay Prompts
Common Application 2021-22
College Essay Tips– What to know about essays in 8th grade– and as a Rising Senior!
Welcome to my Fall Newsletter series on College essays
In Everything You Need to Know About College Applications, I describe all of the moving parts to College Applications and describe how the entirety of the high school career prepares you for your undergraduate experience and the process of submitting your college applications. While your high school transcript and test scores offer a measure of your ability to handle the academic rigors of the undergraduate experience, college essays are one the most effective way to set yourself apart from thousands of equally qualified and interested peers.
College Admissions Officers want to know two things about every applicant– and your essays are how you will provide that information:
1 Who are You ?
What are your passions and experiences that can tell us something about the student you’ll become within a university campus community? What brings you joy? How will you contribute? Below I’ll share examples of essay prompts that are asking this type of question and how to respond.
2 What “Problem” do you want to solve?
What do you want to learn alongside your peers on our college campus? This is a multi-part question. Knowing what you want to learn and being able to demonstrate “informed interest” about a specific university is an admissions advantage!
(It’s okay to be “multi-disciplinary” –in contrast-“undecided” – that’s not the message to present because “undecided”–doesn’t scream I WANT TO LEARN!!. Moreover, platitudes about esteemed faculty or dream schools mean absolutely nothing- read on- to understand more about what you need to show in your essays. All of this is truly a piece-of-cake if you’ve been engaged in directed and guided college research throughout your Sophomore and Junior years.)
While students don’t need to be worrying about writing their college essay in 8th or even 10th grades, I encourage everyone to begin implementing a student-led path of exploration of both personal and academic pursuits throughout middle and high school. Doing so will make high school more joyous, successful, less stressful and you’ll be in a much stronger position to write your college essays when it’s your time to submit your College Applications.
In my previous blog I covered the Covid Prompt
WHO ARE YOU?
THE COMMON APPLICATION ESSAYS — THESE ARE PERHAPS THE MOST CRITICAL & INVALUABLE PART OF YOUR COMMON APPLICATION
WRITING YOUR CORE and COLLEGE SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAYS?
UNIQUE PRESENTATION MATTERS!!
As noted, essays should reveal your strengths, passions and how you connect to others by sharing experiences in a heartfelt and authentic essay.
As a former University Professor, admissions committee member and Cornell University Alumni interviewer, I have thirty years of experience reviewing undergraduate and graduate admissions applications. I know what it takes to get noticed! Let me guide you to making the most clear and effective presentation of your strengths and unique accomplishments to stand out!
WRITING YOUR CORE ESSAY Common App 2021-22 College Essays
The core essay is time for introspection and reflection about experiences that have truly been defining moments. I’ve enjoyed helping students tell their story-some of my favorite essays have been revealing and intriguing tales of childhood memories of Halloween, learning to ski, fishing with grandparents, multi-generational family celebrations, rummy-cube tournaments, emigrating to the US, observing a bucket of KFC at a family funeral in India, cooking multi-cultural recipes, finding a personal voice through tutoring abroad, gardening that led to a hot-sauce venture and working in the customer service department of a local supermarket chain.
If you’ve convinced yourself that you’re not a great writer- don’t let that thought overwhelm you. Simply talk about yourself – to your close friends, a trusted family member (sibling, cousin, parent) or into the voice recorder on your cellphone- and you’ll have the start of your essay.
You don’t need clichés, quotations, or vocabulary that wouldn’t normally be used in conversation. You DO need details, examples and passionate authenticity. Be yourself! Don’t overthink it!
Inspiration might come from identifying a happy or sad memory, a treasured keepsake, a mistake you can’t forget, something you admire about a parent or teacher’s tenacity, moral compass or kindness. Think about the stories your own parents and grandparents share with you about their youth-imagine yourself twenty years in the future sharing your personal stories with a young adult- what would you likely share?
Whether your application is being submitted through the Common or Coalition portals, nearly every university will require a version of a “Core” essay providing the student with an opportunity to reveal and share information that isn’t submitted elsewhere in your application materials.
The admissions essay is a very critical component of your application as it allows you to distinguish yourself from other students and to introduce yourself to the admissions committee. It is how to share and highlight your unique strengths and experiences in a way that your transcript and test scores cannot fully illuminate.
In my decades of experience reviewing numerous undergraduate and graduate applications as a university faculty admissions representative, I can attest to the fact that the content of your essay is often the deciding factor in being admitted, everything else being equal!
A good essay provides readers with a clear understanding of how your experiences have shaped your view of communities and your potential to have an impact on others. The essay is NOT an annotated resume nor an opportunity to restate the materials already noted on the important ‘Activities” section of the Common and Coalition Application.
Your essay is an invitation to tell a personal story that allows the reader to infer important personal characteristics about you based on the anecdotes and experiences you shared. Aim to showcase your personal interests and strengths, your character, your personality all by telling a story in an authentic and heartfelt way about people you’ve met, experiences you’ve enjoyed, and lessons earned.
Above all, connections you’ve made with real people – people you helped in volunteer work, teammates you inspired or who inspired you, family members who influenced you or friends, teachers and coaches who helped shape your values are all opportunities to reveal how you interact with others.
Admissions representative are forming a freshman class and while your transcript and test scores are predictors of your ability to succeed academically, your essay is necessary to determine how you as an individual add to the freshman class. Are you a community member ready to contribute to a vibrant global campus community?
Does your student have an Educational & College Admissions Plan? On Target?
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
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Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. is the founder and principal educational consultant of College Career Consulting, LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a university faculty member and shares her knowledge, professional resources and support with students who are ready to advance their lifelong educational and career journeys.