Admissions Essay

College: Getting In vs. Graduating

Here’s some information for all you rising high school seniors. A while back, there was a network news story about Japanese high school students preparing for their graduation exams. Their performance on these exams determined what level of university they would get into. Pressure to perform was intense because graduates of the most prestigious university ...

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Bizarro College Admissions

One of the more irrational exercises high school seniors undergo this time of year is trying to figure out why they and some of their peers did or did not get into the colleges to which they applied. Of course, college admissions may well be among the world’s most subjective processes. There are no hard ...

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Plagiarize at Your Own Risk

One of the big challenges of college admissions and of college work itself is writing. When you apply, you have to write application essays. When you take college courses, you have to write term papers and other assignments that require research and skill with the language. Sometimes the pressure mounts until it is almost too ...

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College Admissions Mythology

In most areas of life, common wisdom can be a dangerous thing. One area where the damage can be acute is in college admissions. Many high school students (and many of their parents) depend on peer advice to make crucial decisions about applying to and getting into college. Garnering wisdom from friends and even family ...

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Using Humor in Your College Essay

A while back, I was chatting with an admissions officer from a highly competitive university. We were discussing the importance of the essay in college applications. She told me that while the essay is almost always not a make-or-break factor in their final decisions, it can tip the scales in the positive direction for the ...

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The Application Essay: Think About It

Over the years, in helping many seniors attack their application essays, I have always been surprised at how many of them are stumped for ideas, especially when faced with the “Any topic” prompt. Essay ideas are everywhere; we just don’t see them. Since I have been working with high school seniors for so many years, ...

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There’s No “Aye” in Team Suspension

Question: What if your child was suspended from playing volleyball by the coach for “not being a team player”. Would my daughter (10th grader) have to answer the suspension question with “yes”? Does suspension only apply to suspension from school, not sports teams? There’s no “I” in T-E-AM, but there’s also no “aye” in team ...

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Is a 600-Word Common Application Essay Too Long?

Question: My daughter’s Common App essay is about 600 words. It’s a good essay, very readable, thoughtful, and fun. But, the new essay rule is 250-500 words. I understand that this is to keep lengths down, because students were going on for pages and pages in an effort to impress. So I’m thinking that 600 ...

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College Application Essay Length

Have you ever been around someone who takes forever to make his or her point? Maybe they’re merely relating an anecdote about something funny that happened to them at the supermarket, but in order to get to the point of what happened they have to tell you myriad unrelated–and many times quite uninteresting–details along the ...

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