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May 16th, 2022

#SummerGoals: Write your college application essay!

With so many moving parts to the college admissions process, it can be challenging to know when or where to start. Summertime presents an ideal time to focus on the college essay, without the pressures of school, homework, and extracurricular activities. Many students find that they’re more inspired and motivated to write their essay during the summer when they have extra time to think introspectively about themselves – something that isn’t always easy to do!

Keep in mind that writing your college essay is personal and a very different task than an English class assignment. It’s essential to take the time to think about what to write about before the actual writing begins. Telling “your story” is a process, so it’s best to start well before the school year ramps up in September. Even the month of August can get busy with vacations, summer reading assignments, and team sports practices. So here are three great reasons to write your college essay during the summer:

Brainstorming  – before you begin!

The idea that optimal performance can be done under pressure does not hold true for the college essay. Formulating a well-written, high-quality essay requires a significant chunk of time. In fact, you may want to first read some sample college essays online before you begin writing. Many colleges post great examples of essays from accepted students that they loved and you can learn a lot from perusing these essays. Reading a wide range of college essays will help you tremendously when brainstorming what you want to share about yourself with prospective colleges. Keep a running list of ideas on your phone so that when it’s time to write, you’ve got some material to start with!

Get some feedback

Fall is a busy time for both students and teachers so it’s in your best interest to get feedback about your essay before the start of the school year. Be sure to have at least one or two people whom you trust to review your essay and provide both support and constructive criticism. It’s important to seek feedback and insight from others who have experience reviewing many college essays, as they will be able to provide the most valuable critique.

Edits and rewrites are key

It’s a given that you’ll have to rewrite your essay many times until you finalize your finished product. Summer offers a stress-free time to work on your essay without worrying about academic homework, tests, and grades. Because you don’t have a tight deadline, you can take a couple of breaks in between your re-writes and revisit your drafts at your own pace. This will help you be more creative in crafting an outstanding college essay that reveals who you really are!

Being proactive about your college essay this summer will take a lot off your plate this fall. This gives you more time to complete other college application requirements including the Common Application. You may even enjoy the essay process more when you can relax a little and write at your leisure.

 

Are you ready to make a plan to write your college essay this summer?

Check out Test Preps’ College Essay Workshops in June, July, or August. We have several options to fit your summer schedule. Private tutoring options are also available. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information!

July 29th, 2020

August is College Admission Essay Month

Well…not officially, but it should be! August is a great month for high school seniors to tackle the daunting task of grabbing a college’s attention in six hundred fifty words or less. And this year Test Preps is offering our College Essay Workshop virtually!

Why write the college essay now?

  1. Because we’re all waiting to hear what “back to school” will actually mean this fall. Why not set your sights beyond this school year and focus on all the possibilities of the NEXT fall? Battle uncertainty with action, and keep your eyes on the prize: acceptance to a great college!
  2. Because no matter what happens, it’s going to be something. The events of the past few months are fresh and uncluttered, and there is no better time to mine them for memorable details. In fact, the Common Application has added an optional Covid-19 question for students who have been greatly impacted. This fall, your teen will be adapting to a new set of school circumstances. Seize the last days of summer and get a jump on that college admission essay before school starts again.
  3. Because your teen probably has some extra time on his or her hands, and Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and TikTok are boring. Okay, maybe that last part isn’t true, but this is: many colleges have made ACT and SAT test scores optional for 2021. Colleges are going to need a way to get to know your teen, and the essay may be the single best way for college seniors to reveal themselves as individuals to prospective colleges.

When it comes to writing an essay for a college application, getting started is the hardest part—we promise. If your teen needs a hand, a nudge, or a cheerleader, Test Preps can help. Our team will guide your teen through brainstorming, editing, and polishing their essay in just one week during our College Essay Workshop.

Class starts August 3rd via Zoom! Space is limited to maintain the small-group focus of our programs, but we still have a few spots left. Refer a friend, and both students receive a free copy of the text we use in class.

Register today! We can’t wait to get your teen started on the next chapter of their college career.

April 20th, 2015

Are My ACT Scores Good Enough?

Students and parents ask me this all the time. My quick answer is “It depends”. Your test scores are an important piece for getting into college and should not be underestimated. Think of the chore college admissions officers have in comparing grades from high schools all across the country or weighing the merits of one student’s participation in band versus another student’s spot on the football team. And let’s not forget that colleges are getting thousands more applications per year due to the ease of the Common Application. The test scores alone compare students from all over the country by the same yardstick and provide an easy means for admissions officers to reduce potential applicants.

ACT-AM-I-READYThe quality of your score depends on which universities you are applying to. The more selective a university, the higher the score required to be admitted. Once you’ve begun to make a list of schools you’re interested in, visit their websites or give them a call and ask what scores they require on the ACT. You can also check websites like College Simply. Just plug in your score and a list is generated of the colleges in every state for which you qualify.

Two other points to keep in mind. First, many colleges superscore the ACT, meaning if you take multiple ACTs, they will combine your top scores on each of the four ACT sections to make a “superscore”, (See Up Up and Away, Superscoring the SAT and ACT Tests, 10/9/14). Yes, you should be taking more than one ACT, especially when research shows that students score best on a second test after prep.

A final point to keep in mind is that higher ACT scores can earn you more merit scholarship money, and with no ceiling to college costs in sight, every point you earn means less debt down the road. Besides merit money, higher ACT scores can gain you admittance into honors programs with preferential scheduling or honors dorms as perks.  Our next blog entry will explore these last points in detail.  Stay tuned.

September 11th, 2014

Tips for the College Essay Application, Take II

 

There are more tips for writing a winning college application essay than there is space to cover them in a few blog posts. Test Preps offers a three-session class for a reason! My last post covered the BIG picture: tell a story about yourself that reveals your values and character. This post will cover some smaller picture items which can sink an essay if missing or handled poorly.

 

First, let’s discuss the words you use. The vocabulary should be stellar but not stilted (like this sentence!). In other words, yes, you studied vocabulary for two months for the SAT, get some of that in your essay. Be sure you are using the words in the correct context though. And try to smoothly add that vocabulary into a more casual style of writing that matches your natural voice. Avoid sounding too formal which will have the admissions officer dozing before reaching the conclusion. On the other hand, avoid a number of words because they are essentially meaningless: always, never, interesting, meaningful, really, very, special, unique, 110%. Avoid others because they are better explained than simply stated: passion, diversity, adversity, hard working, leadership.

 
Second, try to be honest in your essay. Admissions officers can sniff out fakes. Trust me, it comes across in your writing. This doesn’t mean you should be above exaggerating a detail or two to accentuate your thesis. We all do this routinely when sharing stories with friends and family. However, the bulk of your essay should be true. Besides, when you are writing about a topic that you enjoy or are passionate about, the words come more easily and the story is more interesting to read. Again, it comes across in your writing.

Our last three blog articles have attempted to demonstrate the importance of the college application essay and give you some tips to follow as you begin writing. There is no substitute, however, for quality prep by an experienced tutor whether in a classroom setting or privately. Test Preps’ Essay Workshop for the College Application guides students in picking topics that highlight their growth and values, helps students develop quality leads and endings, and ensures that the structure, grammar and vocabulary of their essays are flawless. The end result of our three-session workshop is a complete, winning essay ready to be delivered to college admissions officers’ hands. Browse our website and give us a call. We’re happy to answer any questions.

 

 

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