College Application Essay Guidance, Uncategorized

Sometimes “help” is not helpful

Parents want to help ... but ... "Colleges have placed more importance on applicants’ essays as an indicator of their values and character. Parents are often tempted to rewrite or edit them heavily. Such meddling is usually obvious to admissions officers, however, who have a keen eye for teenagers’ authentic, and often imperfect, prose."

College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

Show the Real You

“Sheila" bounded into our first meeting with a wide smile across her face, but that smile soon disappeared when I asked her about her essay. She'd been trying to write it for weeks but had gotten nowhere. "I don't know what to write about!" she sighed. We started to talk. About the subjects she enjoyed.… Continue reading Show the Real You

College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

You can’t hide who you are

"Samantha" was one of my favorite clients last year. A hard worker with parents who had endured multiple layoffs, she wanted to write about what she had learned from her family's experience. There was great material here—she had stepped up to help take care of her younger brothers; her parents' struggles had motivated her to work… Continue reading You can’t hide who you are

College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

The Bad Essay

In last week's post, I discussed whether an essay can make or break an admissions decision. The answer: it depends. If you don't have "the goods"—the grades and test scores—a good or even great essay will rarely push you from the "Deny" to the "Accept" pile. But if you land in the "Maybe" pile, a strong essay… Continue reading The Bad Essay

College Application Essay Guidance, Uncategorized, Writing

Can an essay make or break your college admissions decision?

The short answer: it depends. The longer answer: If you don't have the grades and the test scores a college expects from its applicants—in other words, if you aren't academically prepared—it is extremely unlikely for your essay to push you over into the Accept pile. Even the most interesting, unique, or creative essay. Penn's dean of… Continue reading Can an essay make or break your college admissions decision?