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College Talk Blog

Make sure your kid understands college admission questions

Make sure your teen does not mistake a college admission application essay question for a short answer question. Several teens with whom I have worked have indicated that they plan to answer an essay question with a sentence or two. To compete well for college admissions, students must follow directions on every section of their college applications.
An essay question is often 250 to 650 words in length and has a specific format and theme. A short answer question is a more direct question that requires a more specific answer of a sentence or two in length. Most, but not all, college applications include both types of questions.
To help your teen do the best job on his application:
  • look at the blank college application with him
  • ask your teen for his user-id and password and put it in a safe place in case he stores it on his computer and his computer crashes
  • Encourage your teen to write his essays early so that he will have time to edit a few times before it is time to apply
  • Go over the application together before he clicks on the send button.
Some people encourage parents not to get involved with the college application process. As a parent, you know whether your teen has the attention to detail and experience to do his best. Given the high level of competition for college admission at many colleges, I recommend erring on the side of caution, with the cooperation of your teen, and being his mentor in the process.

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