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College Talk Blog

Admission Essays

Bragging Rights and Essays

All of their lives, people tell kids "don't brag, it's not nice." But once a teen gets to eleventh grade, we expect them to know how to talk about their gifts as they navigate the college process. Unfortunately, those early childhood parent tapes are still rolling and many teens are not comfortable telling the stories about how they overcame a challenge.

Early training conflicts with the reality of college applications are just the tip of the iceberg. Another barrier is knowing how to create an interesting and informative personal essay.

Why kids avoid preparing for college

I often speak to parents who are frustrated with their teen who does not seem to be putting in enough time on SAT or ACT Prep or appears to be avoiding writing a college essay or working on college applications or even going on college tours. The parent point of view is often that the student is playing around. Parents also feel that their teen either does not care about college admission outcomes or that the teen assumes that college admission is assured.

Speaking to the students in question often paints a different motivational picture.

What's Your Story?

You've got a story that admissions readers want to hear. Are you ready to tell it? Don't be hesitant to share your history, beliefs, humor and intellect. Your humor is welcomed by admissions readers who read way too many very sad stories. 

Some students think the lack of a sad story is a problem. Nope. Admissions readers want to get to know YOU. You are unique. Because you are not like everyone else, your story won't be either.

If you were an admissions reader, how would you like to read very sad stories all day?

Stranded at the Essay Stoplight?

Students stop dead in their tracks at the essay portion of college applications. Many are dismayed to see that there is an essay but are happy when the length is shorter than average (500 words). The good news for students is that the 250-300 word essay is gaining in popularity with colleges. The bad news is that this length allows students to express less information and requires more concise writing skills.

Conciseness is not in the repertoire of many students with whom I work. They say they are used to having to stretch ideas to meet a lengthy word count set by teachers.

Brain Sucking Zombie Attack Begins this Month!

Students dreading the start of college application season that began August 1st have said it is like facing a giant brain-sucking zombie. They run screaming from the forced brain dumps into electronic applications asking very personal questions as well as questions they do not know how to answer. And just when they think they have answered all application questions, there are endless supplements sucking the limited information still remaining in their brains.

The creators of The Walking Dead described the best way to kill a zombie in an interview that appeared December 3, 2010 in an article in Popular Mechanics Magazine written by Joe Pappalardo.