The essays are the part of the college application that students resist the most. Classes and tests require hard work, but there’s something intimidating about sitting down and writing several hundred words from scratch that have such a bearing on your future. In this post, we offer a few tips for the intrepid college-applicants who are just getting started.
The rise of flickering cell phone screens, social media, and the insane competition of college admissions will define this era in history. Alongside the innovations and competition of the 21st Century is a rise of anxiety amongst all age groups, including, and perhaps especially, teenagers. Your anxiety is totally valid. It’s real and it is something that you should communicate to colleges, but you need to know where to send the message.
The college application is holistic. What that means is each part of it should help to complete a picture of the applicant for the admissions committee. As such, no two parts should be the same. A lot of kids end up writing their essays about something that’s already represented elsewhere in the application, like an extra-curricular. While we typically advise against doing that, there is an exception.
The goal of the essay is to tell a story that illuminates something new about you to the admissions committee. Many students take this as an opportunity to try and get deep. Students frequently write about tragedy or major, life-altering obstacles they’ve faced. Some students choose to write about how they’ve grappled with something like addiction or disease. While those experiences are valid, there is a whole separate section just for them. This essay is not the appropriate platform. The trouble with writing about, well, trouble, is that one often falls short of connecting with the anonymous readers, and the whole point if the exercise is to connect with those very people.
Write about something that doesn’t appear in your activities section or resume
Every single component of your application, from essays to short answer supplements, should show the admissions committee a different part of you. Let your personality become three dimensional. Don’t just rattle of the same redundant information they’re going to see on your resume.
Identity is a word that you’ll see often during the college process and it can be daunting to anyone, not just someone writing a college essay.
Not all Common App essays are created equal. In fact, many are garbage. That’s good news for you. In this blog post, we discuss how to get ahead of your competition by creating an excellent and memorable Common App essay.
Spoiler alert: almost none of the best college essays are about sports.
Let’s start with something that most people overlook: the title of your essay is included in the 650 count word limit. This causes a lot of our students to have a mini meltdown (you’re not alone) so we wanted to get that out of the way.
The Harvard supplement is optional, which is one of the reasons for their very, very low acceptance rate. Plenty of unqualified kids think, “Hey. No essay? I’ll throw my hat in.” If you’re serious about applying and your scores and GPA fall into Harvard’s range, then write the essay.
There are a million different ways to write your common app essay, but in this post we’re going to share the process that we use with TKG students. We like this method because it helps us zero in on topics and ideas that students commonly overlook. It works with every personality type and any potential interest, from introverted interior designers to extroverted entrepreneurs.
Most students we work with are familiar with essay introductions that look something like the below:
“Due to my diverse background and upbringing, I’m able to relate to many people because of the experiences I’ve had throughout my life.”
Humility, self-awareness, and a sense of humor. These are all traits applicants should seek to convey in their college essays, and essays about failure are a great vehicle for doing so. Students are sometimes hesitant to highlight failures. After all, isn’t the objective to cultivate and showcase a cluster of assets on the application? In short, the answer is ‘yes.’ However, highlighting a weakness, if done properly, can also mean underscoring growth, as well as an ability to think critically and learn from past mistakes. Simply put, it’s humanizing.
High school college counselors often advise students away from creativity and into a box of ordinary, albeit palatable humble brags. Their method has worked for them before and they’re not about to go out on a limb if they’re not positive it will work. But college is getting increasingly more competitive and run of the mill essays are not going to put anyone over the edge.
We post some of our favorite essays on our website in hopes that you’ll read them. They’re fun, interesting, and great examples of thinking outside the box. We also realize that they aren’t necessarily helpful to someone looking for actual tips on how to write their own essay.
Getting started on a personal essay can be challenging. How do you convey the details of your accomplishments in an interesting way? The answer is, you don’t.
Whew! We’ve been running through all seven Common App essay prompts to provide you with the information you need to pick the one that is right for you and to answer it as well as possible. Now we’re at #6 out of 7, so we’re almost done!
Congrats! You’ve made it to number five! That’s right; we’ve been going through the list of Common App essay prompts and breaking each one down so you can make the best possible decision on which one to pick and how to tackle it once you do. We’re now at number five, which means we are in the final stretch.
We are in a war with prompts. Yes, you read that right, we can’t stand them. We hate having to follow them, and we comply only as far as is absolutely necessary. Why? Because college essay prompts have a way of bringing out the worst in the very people that they are supposed to be helping. It’s as if they were purposefully written to produce bad writing, which is the exact opposite of what we want from our students.