Tag Archives: personal statement

Are Any of These Top 16 Colleges on Your List?

24 Apr


As we head into the new college search season, I thought you might find this article from The Huffington Post of interest. I know not everyone is shooting this high, or needs to, but it is loaded with great information and tips.

Click HERE to read the entire article, see the top 16 colleges they picked, and listen to helpful videos on how to get in!

The 16 Most Selective Colleges In The Country

The Huffington Post teamed up with the Princeton Review, one of the nation’s leading education-services companies, to present this special feature on the nation’s most selective colleges — and how to get in to them.

The goal of our “America’s Most Selective Colleges” project is to give college-bound students and their parents straight-on information about these challenging schools’ acceptance rates and truly savvy tips for applicants.

To that end, we asked the Princeton Review to shares its list of the 16 colleges in its flagship book,The Best 376 Colleges (published August 2011) that earned a 99 -– the highest possible score — on the Company’s unique “Admissions Selectivity Rating.” Presented in alphabetical order, this list is based on the Princeton Review’s analysis of data it exclusively gathers from its institutional and student surveys.

We also asked the Princeton Review’s Senior VP/Publisher, Rob Franek, to offer his expert advice on how to gain acceptance into these outstanding schools. Having also been a college-admissions officer, he knows this side of the admissions scene well. His seven short videos are packed with insights on what admissions officers are looking for, plus need-to-know tips for earning high test scores, writing stellar college essays and winning financial aid. All are sure to be useful in your college applications.

The Princeton Review publishes college information, admissions data, and application guidance on its website and Facebook.

Join us in the conversation that will lead you to the best-fit school for you!

THE FIRST ONE: Amherst College
Location: Amherst, MA
ASR: 99
Average HS GPA: NR
ACT Range: 30-34
SAT Critical Reading: 670-770
SAT Math: 670-770
SAT Writing: 680-770
% accepted: 15
Total undergrad enrollment: 1,795
Professor interesting rating: 87
Professor accessible rating: 93
Rankings/Lists: Dorms Like Palaces
Photo Credit: David Emmerman
Click HERE to read the entire article and see their top 16 schools.
Make sure to watch the video where the college counselor man gives his sage advice!!!
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How Far Will You Go for A Great Essay Topic?

4 Nov

 

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times about how high school students are seeking out exotic trips, usually to foreign countries, mainly so they will have an intriguing topic for their college essays.  (Article copied below)  I think these trips can be amazing, and that students learn a lot about other places, cultures and themselves. Yes, GO!!  But if you are lucky enough to take one of these trips, the last thing I would do is plan it so you can write a snazzy college admissions essay. I actually believe this approach can backfire. An instant turn-off to essay readers is a student who is trying to impress them.

To avoid sounding over-privileged, students should look for essay topics that focus on everyday subjects, often called “mundane topics.” Every time, the essay about a summer job where a student flipped pancakes at IHOP or washed dishes or sold shoes turned out so much better than the one where they went to Africa and lived in mud huts or helped farmers in Guatamala pull weeds. For some reason, the more basic topics feel more authentic and are naturally more interesting. And the writer comes across more humble, and likable, even.

That’s not to say that you can’t write a fine essay about a cool trip abroad. My advice is that in your search for a topic, don’t consider the trip itself the topic. Instead, focus on one thing that happened on that trip. Focus your essay on a specific experience, and just let the trip to the cool place be the background. That way, the college folks see how adventuresome you are, but you can focus your essay on something more specific and meaningful. College folks want to learn about how you think and what you value. So it’s not so much where you were or did something, but what happened, how you handled it and what you learned in the process. That’s why scooping gelato, parking cars or walking dogs can make more interesting topics than your travels around Timbuktu.

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Jumpstart Your Personal Statement in 6 Simple Steps!!

11 Aug

If you are writing an essay that responds to a prompt that asks you to tell about yourself, or describe a quality, characteristic, experience or accomplishment (such as the Number 2 UC personal statement prompt!), here’s one way to approach your personal narrative. Remember, “narrative” means telling a story. I’m pretty sure at some point you learned in English class that to create a story you need at least two things: a character and a conflict. So one magic way to create a personal narrative is to search your recent past for a conflict. (You are the “character.”) Again, thinking back to English class, conflicts can come from many different places–from within yourself (internal: you have a personal issue or hang-up that caused you pain or trouble) to outside yourself (external: something bad happened to you.)

To put it simply, a conflict is a problem. Problems come in all shapes and sizes. They do not need to be traumas or a crisis, although those can work, too. (HINT: Basic, everyday problems work best!
Check out this post about “mundane” topics.) Here are other words for a conflict or problems: challenge, obstacle, mistake, hang-up, issue, dilemma, fears, obsessions, etc. Examples of conflicts or problems: you are shy, competitive, stubborn, didn’t make the team, got injured, have big feet, frizzy red hair, smile too much, someone quit at your work, don’t have own car, can’t spell, adhd, ocd, don’t eat meat, perfectionist, slob, lazy, drunk driving, have a mean grandparent, no money, etc…Man, there are a lot of problems out there! But for the purposes of writing these dreaded essays, that’s a good thing for once!

Once you remember a juicy problem, follow these steps:

1. Describe the time you had a problem or describe a strong example of your problem (Include what happened and how it made you feel. Try to start at the moment it hit, or happened for the best impact!  Include the 5Ws! Stick to one or two paragraphs.)

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DONE!!!

17 Jan

Yesterday, my son sent in the last of his college applications (just hours before many of the Common App Deadlines, might I add). YEA!!! I’m not sure which of us is more relieved. He is the youngest of my two children (my daughter is a sophomore in college), so this is it for me in terms of a personal role in the college application and essay writing process. Of course, I will continue writing this blog and tutoring college-bound students and parents on how to write powerful admissions essays. But boy does it feel great to be on the other side!

If you are still on the dark side, and have either just started thinking about your college essays or still have a couple to polish and send in for 2011, you, too, will someday be on the bright side with my son and I! The one thing you do not want to feel at the point where we are is regret. No matter how stressful and overwhelming the process, it is worth sticking with it to make sure everything is as good as you can make it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

And when you are done, you can step back and let what happens happen. There’s  nothing else you can do at that point. But if you are still cranking on these essays and supplements, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, remember your goals, know that it will be over soon, and JUST WRITE THEM!

Congratulations to all of you who have all your applications in, and best of luck to those of you still plugging away!

Before you push the button…

2 Oct

You are finally finished with your essay. It’s time to copy it into the online application and send it off. You’ve worked hard. Why not make sure it’s fabulous?Follow this checklist to double check that it’s as good as it should be:

  • Read your prompt (the question) one more time. Often a prompt will ask you to answer more than one question, or address several points. Make sure you address or answer them all!
  • Did you make your point? (Yes, that’s the same thing as your “main point.”) You should be able to state it in a sentence or two. And it should be stated somewhere in your essay as well. If you can’t do this, chances are your essay is too broad, and too broad means boring.
  • Do you prove the (main) point you are making in your essay? Did you provide examples?
  • When you give examples in your essay, or describe something, are you specific? Use details!
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Should you title your essays?

27 Sep

I like titles. But they need to be good. A title should be short and witty. Not cutesy. The tone of the title and essay should match. The best ones don’t give away too much about the essay, and only hint at what’s to come. Do not use questions. And don’t even think about a title that sounds anything like “My College Admissions Essay.”

Now, how do you think of a title, a good title? Brainstorm ideas by playing off words that link to your theme, message or topic.

Example: A student wrote an essay about how he broke his wrist playing football, and how he learned more about the game sitting on the bench that season. Theme: How bad things can result in good things/How you can learn from a new perspective.

Make a quick list of words from the essay that you could play around with: break, benched, football, sports, view, injury, hurt, new perspective…Let yourself “free associate,” which means you list key words and sayings that come to mind when you say one of them, such as “break.” Try the word in different tenses, in common phrases, in pop culture phrases (titles of movies, books, songs, etc.) and even clichés can work. Also, skim your essay for catchy phrases that might work. Try mixing up a couple keys words to make your own phrase. You can also use the Internet to brainstorm ideas–just Google your keywords or phrases. Have fun with it.

Breaking Away (movie title)

The Big Break

Breaking Up

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so stressed you can’t even start? let me talk you down…

20 Sep

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A friend just told me his daughter was not going to apply to the UC (University of California) schools because she would need to write two essays. Instead, she was going to stick to the Cal state schools, which don’t require essays.

What a tragedy, I thought. These aren’t that hard to write!! Here’s what I would say to try to change his mind, and tell his daughter:

These essays don’t have to be perfect. Shoot for mediocre if it takes the pressure off. Just find a little story to tell about yourself, something that happened one time, and pound it out. Stick to the first person; describe what happened. Then, explain what it meant to you, how you thought about it, what you learned, how it changed you (even if just a little bit.) Voila! An essay!! That’s it!!!

Of course, if you can go back, re-read it, take out the boring parts, amp it up with colorful details, cut extra words, carve out a main point, read it out loud,  listen to the flow, find a nifty metaphor to life, allude to interesting ideas, fix it up, work on it—you will have an even better essay.  And did I mention all my other informative posts on this blog are designed to help you write a killer essay? (Look for specific topics in the “Get Help By Topic” listing on the right.)