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College Talk Blog

College Admission Essays

Has your junior started writing college essays yet?

It may seem early to think about college essays but now is the time to write them. Spring break is a great time to think about content. Writing a little each week can break this large task into small pieces.

Is your junior clueless about where to start? A personal statement of about 500 words is a great place to start. The personal statement is about personal history. Students can demonstrate who they are and how they got that way through a life event or a series of related activities. The essay should be a conversation that introduces them to the reader.

Have you been hyphenating again?

Writing for a more concise word limit in an essay is the opposite of what many students are accustomed to. Most students complain that they are good at "stretching" the length of an essay with adjectives but struggle to stay within word limits. One of their most popular ways to get an extra word in is to hyphenate.

Word counts in college applications often do not count a hyphenated word as two words. Armed with this knowledge some students in need of an extra word or two
will re-read their essay to see if there are words that could be hyphenated.

Think your teen can do college apps solo?

Before they get involved in the process, some parents think their teen will not need help with college applications. "It's just an online application", they say. "How hard could it be?" Many parents are unaware of the depth of information requested from their teen by each college. For a seventeen year old, some college application questions are a challenge.

Each year I watch the skill set of teens evolve. They are evolving faster than college applications (which is pretty fast).

They won't read your admission application essay unless...

I've always encouraged students to write an essay draft and then re-write it until it is a work of art that represents their essence. That is a process that takes time. Students who ignore such advice and dash off a quick admission application essay this year might be surprised at what I heard an admission officer say this week. 

 "If an admission essay does not reveal something about a student in the  first paragraph, I stop reading". 

Yikes! If that does not make a student take an essay seriously, I don't know what will.

Mama don't let your babies submit essays that you wrote

The voices of individual students and each generation of students is distinctive. It does not sound like parents in cadence, language, punctuation or thought process.
Yet, every year I meet parents who think it is a good idea to write their children's essays.

College application essays give students a chance to let colleges know them as people. The best creator of a who am I message is the person who is the subject of the essay.

There are four reasons that allowing a parent to write a teen's college essay is a bad idea: