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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.

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.

 

 

August 12th, 2014

Big No No’s – College Application Essay

keep-calm-and-don-t-do-it-2I’m usually a positive person, but I’d like to focus on some negatives right now: the things one should avoid doing when writing a college application essay. Keeping these in mind when writing your essay just may make the difference in getting you into that top-choice school.

1. Don’t brag, whether about your heroism or how you won the game. Sure you’re proud, but was the moment honestly transformative?
2. Don’t write about pop culture icons or about predictable people: MLK, Einstein, even mom, dad & siblings. The former make you look shallow, and none of them have met you personally save mom, dad and your siblings, whom every student claims is their hero. You need to find a story unique to you.
3. Don’t write about your drug use, sex life, time in jail, or make any deep confessions. Yes, they’ve all been done, and yes, they are all too risky.
4. Don’t repeat information that is already on your application. The college already has lots of information about you the student.
5. Don’t lecture or preach whether about social, political, or religious beliefs. These topics are not taboo, however, you need to be careful how you write about them. You never know who your audience will be.
6. Don’t write using clichés, use too many quotes, or overly rely on the thesaurus. Quality writing matters!
7. Don’t try to flatter the school you’re applying to. The school wants to know about you. They’re confident in their ability to educate you.
8. Don’t fake it. Don’t make yourself out to be someone you’re not. Admissions officers can sniff out a fraud, and when you write about a story that’s sincerely impacted your life, your writing reflects this.

Test Preps’ Essay Workshop for the College Application covers these and many more “don’ts”, but this list will get you started in avoiding some of the most common pitfalls when writing those application essays. And now that you know what not to do, how about those things you should be doing? Sign up for a class and wait for our next blog post!

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