Admissions Essay

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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Ivy League: The Year of Single-Digit Acceptance Rates

Well, it’s over. Another anxiety-filled college admissions season has ended. March 30 was D-Day (“D” for “Decision”) for many high school seniors, especially those applying to the Ivy League and other so-called “elite” colleges and universities. For applicants aspiring to the Class of 2015, timing was unfortunate. This was, without question, the most difficult year ...

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The Agony of Ivy Admissions

Yesterday (March 30) was Ivy League application results day. As in years past, the center of the results universe was the College Confidential discussion forum, which outperformed Harvard’s email decision notification system. As of 10 p.m. last night, there were still many Harvard aspirants who either hadn’t received their admission decision email or who couldn’t ...

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The Ethics of Essays

One of the things I like best about admissions counseling is working with applicants on their essays. I think most high school seniors are capable of writing at least an “honest” statement that presents some insights into the writer. I’ve answered more than a few reporters’ questions about the kinds of problems I see in ...

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