Steps to a Great College Application Essay - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Title: Steps to a Great College Application Essay


1
Steps to a Great College Application Essay
  • According to Petersons and The College Board

2
The Role of the Essay
  • The Common Application
  • Recommended form for more than 240 colleges and
    universities
  • Personal Statement section
  • This personal statement helps us become
    acquainted with you as an individual(p4
    Petersons)
  • 5 choices

3
The Role of the Essay
  • How important is the essay?
  • The closer you are to the borderline, the more
    significant a role the essay will play in the
    admission decision.
  • Will someone even read my essay?
  • It dependssize of school, type of school,
    deadline, applicant pool, GPA and SAT scores

4
Role of the Essay
  • Who will evaluate my essay?
  • At least one admission officer
  • Typically alumni, then perhaps another officer or
    perhaps the admission director or assistant
    director
  • Some colleges have admission committees comprised
    of 5 to 7 people (admission officials, faculty
    members, and possibly students)

5
Role of the Essay
  • How do schools evaluate the essay?
  • Methods vary
  • Larger schools tend to use multiple-scoring
    system (content, style, mechanics)
  • Other schools may take more of a holistic
    approach, relying on written comments by
    evaluators as well as conversation among
    committee members

6
10 Steps to a Great Essay
  • 1. Learn more about yourself
  • Interview friends and family
  • Best thing about me?
  • Worst thing about me?
  • Most unusual thing about me?
  • How would you describe me to someone who does not
    know me?
  • What was your initial impression of me and how
    has that changed?

7
10 Steps continued
  • 1. Learn more about yourself
  • Record your dreams
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings about
    issues that are most personal and immediate
  • Self-esteem
  • Identity
  • Independence from parents
  • Academic and extra-curricular success
  • Acceptance by peers
  • Loyalty, trust, honesty
  • Physical appearance, attractiveness, sexuality,

8
10 Steps continued
  • 2. Do some serious brainstorming
  • Record observations in a believe it or not
    notebook-try to see the unusual in the ordinary
    as Jerry Seinfeld has mastered.
  • Become a keen observer of human behavior
  • Introversion vs. extroversion
  • Aggressiveness, assertiveness, and passivity
  • Friendliness and unfriendliness
  • Intelligences, talents, skills
  • Competitiveness and cooperation
  • Self-affirming and self-defeating behavior

9
10 Steps continued
  • 2. Do some serious brainstorming
  • Read the editorial section of the newspaper
  • Scan the magazine rack in the library
  • Check out college related internet resources
  • Surf the web for interesting articles and essays
  • Read essays by the great essayists
  • Revisit essays of your own

10
10 Steps continued
  • Great essayists
  • Contemporary-Calvin Trillin, Anna Quindlen, Dave
    Berry
  • Modern-John Updike, H.L. Mencken, Tom Wolfe,
    George Orwell
  • Not-so-modern-Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson,
    Jonathan Swift
  • Writers who write about writing- William Zinsser,
    E.B. White

11
10 Steps continued
  • 3. Check out the colleges own resources for
    essay ideas
  • Read college newspaper
  • Read alumni publications
  • Tour the campus with eyes wide open
  • Investigate the history
  • Talk to current students
  • Read what the admissions application says about
    the essays
  • Contact the admissions staff with unanswered
    questions about the essay
  • Visit the schools website

12
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused ideas Seek out overlooked
    ideas
  • Essays about personal relationships and
    influences consider
  • Your favorite teacher
  • Your coach
  • Distant relatives
  • Your arch-rival at school
  • A neighbor
  • Penpals
  • A member of a friends family
  • DO NOT write about your dog or cat!

13
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Essays about issues
  • Avoid the environment, world peace, prejudice and
    discrimination, drugs, crime
  • Consider individual rights (right to die, AIDS,
    abortion, gun control, free speech), consumerism
    and materialism, fairness, justice, and equality,
    free trade among nations, internet issues
    (privacy, alienation, education, commerce)

14
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overusedseek overlooked
  • Essays about your experiences, activities, or
    significant events
  • Avoid the college admissions process especially
    the SAT and essay writing
  • Avoid your big trip to somewhere far away
    especially if you focus on cultural awareness,
    yucky food, acceptance of others, theres no
    place like home.
  • Avoid wilderness and survival experiences
  • Avoid winning or losing the big game
  • Avoid how all your hard work paid off
  • Avoid summer camp
  • Avoid a part-time job
  • Avoid your most unforgettable experience

15
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Seek other personal experiences
  • A seemingly ordinary trip that turned into an
    unexpected adventure or self-defining event
  • A song, poem, novel, or other serious literary
    work that made a genuine and deep impact
  • The time you received an unexpected gift from an
    unexpected source, or the time you spontaneously
    gave of yourself to someone or something
  • A white lie , an off-the-cuff insulting remark or
    a discourtesy that helped you to grow and mature
    in your understanding of yourself and others

16
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overusedseek overlooked
  • Seek other personal experiences cont.
  • A contribution or accomplishment of yours not
    motivated by a potential external reward
  • An informal social situation that holds special
    meaning to you, not holidays, weddings, or proms
  • A time when a teacher or other authority figure
    enabled you to approach him like an equal and
    friend

17
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused Seek overlooked
  • Essays about your own personal qualities
  • Avoid lists of your favorite things or
    least-favorite things
  • Avoid your determination and tenacity and how it
    allows you to always accomplish your goal
  • Avoid how diverse you are in your interests and
    endeavors

18
10 Steps continued
  • 4 Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Seek those little habits of yours that sometimes
    annoy others
  • Seek that time you really put your foot in your
    mouth
  • Seek a personal possession to which you have
    grown irrationally attached
  • Seek particular study habits that you would like
    to change
  • Seek your unusual awkwardness in certain social
    situations

19
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Observe these dos and donts for theme and
    content
  • Do write an essay that only you could
    write-originality
  • Do convey a positive message overall
  • Do strive for depth, not breadth
  • Do think personal and anecdotal
  • Do reject your first idea or angle
  • Do be interesting, but be yourself
  • Do write about what you know and have observed or
    experienced firsthand
  • Do write about something you feel strongly about
  • Do write about others as well as yourself

20
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Dos and donts
  • Dont let others decide what you write
  • Dont tell the reader the way it is Dont try
    to prove anything
  • Dont try to write a scholarly purely
    informational essay on some researched topic
  • Dont try to guess what the admissions committee
    wants you to write
  • Dont write about things that are found elsewhere
    in the application
  • Dont appear overly idealistic recognize the
    merits of all sides

21
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Dos and donts
  • Dont explain blemishes or deficiencies on your
    application
  • Dont write anything that might embarrass the
    reader
  • Dont write an essay that reads like a newspaper
    editorial
  • Dont mention popular t.v. shows, movies,
    musicians, or actors
  • No references to Dr. Seuss

22
10 Steps continued
  • 6. Write, write, and write some more
  • Try stream of consciousness speed drills
  • Keep all of your drafts
  • Start with the four common app ?s
  • express your ideas openly on the internet
  • Know when you are finished

23
10 Steps continued
  • 4 common application questions plus
  • Evaluate a significance experience, achievement,
    risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have
    faced and its impact on you
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national,
    or international concern and its importance to
    you
  • Indicate a person who has had a significant
    influence on you, and describe that influence
  • Describe a character in fiction, an historical
    figure, or a creative work that has had an
    influence on you, and explain that influence
  • Topic of your choice

24
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Equally concerned with format, structure, syntax,
    tone, and word choice as subject matter
  • Structure and format
  • Shorter is preferable-concise
  • Use paragraph breaks appropriately
  • Do not use a 5 paragraph essay format
  • Avoid poetry
  • Do not draw on essay
  • Essays as essays not contracts, court documents,
    or lab experiments

25
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Find an appropriate and genuine style and tone
  • Strive to write in a casual, conversational tone
  • Dont try too hard to be funny, no puns
  • Be forceful and opinionated but not insulting or
    offensive
  • Avoid whining, complaining, or appearing bitter,
    sarcastic, or angry
  • Avoid coming across as overly humble

26
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Hook
  • Strive to engage the reader immediately
  • Do not write Hello, my name is
  • Dont ask for permission to tell about yourself
  • Stay away from the term paper style introduction
    reiterating the topic or question or itemizing
    the points you will make in subsequent paragraphs
  • Begin as a comedian would

27
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Begin with an enigmatic statement that makes the
    reader wonder to what or whom you are referring
  • Begin with an obscure quotation
  • Begin with a thoughtful question
  • Begin with a trivial observation that anyone can
    relate to but no one would think to use in a hook
  • Begin with a paradox
  • Begin with a gross generalization
  • Begin with someone elses opinion or theory
  • Begin with a confession
  • Begin with an overly obvious statement

28
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Essay endings (not summary or conclusion!)
  • Do provide closure-bookends or come full circle
  • Do answer any posed question or end any created
    suspense
  • Do use short, forceful sentences
  • Dont address the admissions committee
  • Dont use words like finally or in conclusion
  • Dont repeat or sum up in any way
  • Dont end your essay with a quotation

29
10 Steps continued..
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Include a title for your essay only if it helps
    to communicate your message or if you have an
    irresistible idea, otherwise DO NOT title your
    essay
  • Use effective word choice
  • Avoid certain wordsresponsibility, goal,
    interact, develop, role, integrity, leadership,
    excellence, interpersonal
  • Avoid slang and currently popular buzz phrases
  • Avoid superfluous wordsobviously, somewhat, I
    think or I believe, first, second, etc., however,
    thus, in conclusion
  • Avoid technical, scientific, and obscure
    SAT-style words

30
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Dos for stylistic devices
  • Do use analogies
  • Do incorporate dialogue
  • Do mix up sentence length
  • Do use logical paragraph breaks
  • Do use the active voice

31
10 Steps continued
  • 7 Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Donts for stylistic devices
  • Dont tell the reader explicitly I am a unique
    and interesting person
  • Dont parody a well-known writer or literary work
  • Dont use alliteration
  • Dont start too many sentences with the word I
  • Dont use a lot of
  • Dont necessarily write entirely in complete
    sentences

32
10 Steps continued
  • 8. Avoid careless errors and grammatical
    blunders
  • Actually read through for spelling/word usage
    errors
  • Get the school name right!
  • Have someone read it for grammatical errors

33
10 Steps continued
  • 9. Obtain useful feedback and fine-tune your
    essay
  • Ask someone to read it and respond to the
    question, If you didnt know me, what would you
    say about the person who wrote the essay?
  • Set the draft aside for several days, then reread
  • Post pieces of drafts on relevant internet
    newsgroups and bulletin boards for feedback-dont
    let on that it is for an application
  • Dont ask for too may perspectives on your essay
  • If described as cute, humorous, or clever
    revise so it is not!

34
10 Steps continued
  • 10. Package and present your essay appropriately
  • If permitted present essay on a separate sheet of
    paper
  • Number each page and include a header with your
    name and social security number
  • Assemble your essays properly
  • Comply with page restrictions
  • Dont worry too much about word counts
  • Type every essay using readable fonts and ample
    margins
  • Think twice before submitting supplementary
    materials
  • Do not submit essays on video or audiotape

35
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Steps to a Great College Application Essay

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Title: Steps to a Great College Application Essay


1
Steps to a Great College Application Essay
  • According to Petersons and The College Board

2
The Role of the Essay
  • The Common Application
  • Recommended form for more than 240 colleges and
    universities
  • Personal Statement section
  • This personal statement helps us become
    acquainted with you as an individual(p4
    Petersons)
  • 5 choices

3
The Role of the Essay
  • How important is the essay?
  • The closer you are to the borderline, the more
    significant a role the essay will play in the
    admission decision.
  • Will someone even read my essay?
  • It dependssize of school, type of school,
    deadline, applicant pool, GPA and SAT scores

4
Role of the Essay
  • Who will evaluate my essay?
  • At least one admission officer
  • Typically alumni, then perhaps another officer or
    perhaps the admission director or assistant
    director
  • Some colleges have admission committees comprised
    of 5 to 7 people (admission officials, faculty
    members, and possibly students)

5
Role of the Essay
  • How do schools evaluate the essay?
  • Methods vary
  • Larger schools tend to use multiple-scoring
    system (content, style, mechanics)
  • Other schools may take more of a holistic
    approach, relying on written comments by
    evaluators as well as conversation among
    committee members

6
10 Steps to a Great Essay
  • 1. Learn more about yourself
  • Interview friends and family
  • Best thing about me?
  • Worst thing about me?
  • Most unusual thing about me?
  • How would you describe me to someone who does not
    know me?
  • What was your initial impression of me and how
    has that changed?

7
10 Steps continued
  • 1. Learn more about yourself
  • Record your dreams
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings about
    issues that are most personal and immediate
  • Self-esteem
  • Identity
  • Independence from parents
  • Academic and extra-curricular success
  • Acceptance by peers
  • Loyalty, trust, honesty
  • Physical appearance, attractiveness, sexuality,

8
10 Steps continued
  • 2. Do some serious brainstorming
  • Record observations in a believe it or not
    notebook-try to see the unusual in the ordinary
    as Jerry Seinfeld has mastered.
  • Become a keen observer of human behavior
  • Introversion vs. extroversion
  • Aggressiveness, assertiveness, and passivity
  • Friendliness and unfriendliness
  • Intelligences, talents, skills
  • Competitiveness and cooperation
  • Self-affirming and self-defeating behavior

9
10 Steps continued
  • 2. Do some serious brainstorming
  • Read the editorial section of the newspaper
  • Scan the magazine rack in the library
  • Check out college related internet resources
  • Surf the web for interesting articles and essays
  • Read essays by the great essayists
  • Revisit essays of your own

10
10 Steps continued
  • Great essayists
  • Contemporary-Calvin Trillin, Anna Quindlen, Dave
    Berry
  • Modern-John Updike, H.L. Mencken, Tom Wolfe,
    George Orwell
  • Not-so-modern-Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson,
    Jonathan Swift
  • Writers who write about writing- William Zinsser,
    E.B. White

11
10 Steps continued
  • 3. Check out the colleges own resources for
    essay ideas
  • Read college newspaper
  • Read alumni publications
  • Tour the campus with eyes wide open
  • Investigate the history
  • Talk to current students
  • Read what the admissions application says about
    the essays
  • Contact the admissions staff with unanswered
    questions about the essay
  • Visit the schools website

12
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused ideas Seek out overlooked
    ideas
  • Essays about personal relationships and
    influences consider
  • Your favorite teacher
  • Your coach
  • Distant relatives
  • Your arch-rival at school
  • A neighbor
  • Penpals
  • A member of a friends family
  • DO NOT write about your dog or cat!

13
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Essays about issues
  • Avoid the environment, world peace, prejudice and
    discrimination, drugs, crime
  • Consider individual rights (right to die, AIDS,
    abortion, gun control, free speech), consumerism
    and materialism, fairness, justice, and equality,
    free trade among nations, internet issues
    (privacy, alienation, education, commerce)

14
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overusedseek overlooked
  • Essays about your experiences, activities, or
    significant events
  • Avoid the college admissions process especially
    the SAT and essay writing
  • Avoid your big trip to somewhere far away
    especially if you focus on cultural awareness,
    yucky food, acceptance of others, theres no
    place like home.
  • Avoid wilderness and survival experiences
  • Avoid winning or losing the big game
  • Avoid how all your hard work paid off
  • Avoid summer camp
  • Avoid a part-time job
  • Avoid your most unforgettable experience

15
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Seek other personal experiences
  • A seemingly ordinary trip that turned into an
    unexpected adventure or self-defining event
  • A song, poem, novel, or other serious literary
    work that made a genuine and deep impact
  • The time you received an unexpected gift from an
    unexpected source, or the time you spontaneously
    gave of yourself to someone or something
  • A white lie , an off-the-cuff insulting remark or
    a discourtesy that helped you to grow and mature
    in your understanding of yourself and others

16
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overusedseek overlooked
  • Seek other personal experiences cont.
  • A contribution or accomplishment of yours not
    motivated by a potential external reward
  • An informal social situation that holds special
    meaning to you, not holidays, weddings, or proms
  • A time when a teacher or other authority figure
    enabled you to approach him like an equal and
    friend

17
10 Steps continued
  • 4. Avoid overused Seek overlooked
  • Essays about your own personal qualities
  • Avoid lists of your favorite things or
    least-favorite things
  • Avoid your determination and tenacity and how it
    allows you to always accomplish your goal
  • Avoid how diverse you are in your interests and
    endeavors

18
10 Steps continued
  • 4 Avoid overused seek overlooked
  • Seek those little habits of yours that sometimes
    annoy others
  • Seek that time you really put your foot in your
    mouth
  • Seek a personal possession to which you have
    grown irrationally attached
  • Seek particular study habits that you would like
    to change
  • Seek your unusual awkwardness in certain social
    situations

19
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Observe these dos and donts for theme and
    content
  • Do write an essay that only you could
    write-originality
  • Do convey a positive message overall
  • Do strive for depth, not breadth
  • Do think personal and anecdotal
  • Do reject your first idea or angle
  • Do be interesting, but be yourself
  • Do write about what you know and have observed or
    experienced firsthand
  • Do write about something you feel strongly about
  • Do write about others as well as yourself

20
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Dos and donts
  • Dont let others decide what you write
  • Dont tell the reader the way it is Dont try
    to prove anything
  • Dont try to write a scholarly purely
    informational essay on some researched topic
  • Dont try to guess what the admissions committee
    wants you to write
  • Dont write about things that are found elsewhere
    in the application
  • Dont appear overly idealistic recognize the
    merits of all sides

21
10 Steps continued
  • 5. Dos and donts
  • Dont explain blemishes or deficiencies on your
    application
  • Dont write anything that might embarrass the
    reader
  • Dont write an essay that reads like a newspaper
    editorial
  • Dont mention popular t.v. shows, movies,
    musicians, or actors
  • No references to Dr. Seuss

22
10 Steps continued
  • 6. Write, write, and write some more
  • Try stream of consciousness speed drills
  • Keep all of your drafts
  • Start with the four common app ?s
  • express your ideas openly on the internet
  • Know when you are finished

23
10 Steps continued
  • 4 common application questions plus
  • Evaluate a significance experience, achievement,
    risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have
    faced and its impact on you
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national,
    or international concern and its importance to
    you
  • Indicate a person who has had a significant
    influence on you, and describe that influence
  • Describe a character in fiction, an historical
    figure, or a creative work that has had an
    influence on you, and explain that influence
  • Topic of your choice

24
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Equally concerned with format, structure, syntax,
    tone, and word choice as subject matter
  • Structure and format
  • Shorter is preferable-concise
  • Use paragraph breaks appropriately
  • Do not use a 5 paragraph essay format
  • Avoid poetry
  • Do not draw on essay
  • Essays as essays not contracts, court documents,
    or lab experiments

25
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Find an appropriate and genuine style and tone
  • Strive to write in a casual, conversational tone
  • Dont try too hard to be funny, no puns
  • Be forceful and opinionated but not insulting or
    offensive
  • Avoid whining, complaining, or appearing bitter,
    sarcastic, or angry
  • Avoid coming across as overly humble

26
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Hook
  • Strive to engage the reader immediately
  • Do not write Hello, my name is
  • Dont ask for permission to tell about yourself
  • Stay away from the term paper style introduction
    reiterating the topic or question or itemizing
    the points you will make in subsequent paragraphs
  • Begin as a comedian would

27
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Begin with an enigmatic statement that makes the
    reader wonder to what or whom you are referring
  • Begin with an obscure quotation
  • Begin with a thoughtful question
  • Begin with a trivial observation that anyone can
    relate to but no one would think to use in a hook
  • Begin with a paradox
  • Begin with a gross generalization
  • Begin with someone elses opinion or theory
  • Begin with a confession
  • Begin with an overly obvious statement

28
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Essay endings (not summary or conclusion!)
  • Do provide closure-bookends or come full circle
  • Do answer any posed question or end any created
    suspense
  • Do use short, forceful sentences
  • Dont address the admissions committee
  • Dont use words like finally or in conclusion
  • Dont repeat or sum up in any way
  • Dont end your essay with a quotation

29
10 Steps continued..
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Include a title for your essay only if it helps
    to communicate your message or if you have an
    irresistible idea, otherwise DO NOT title your
    essay
  • Use effective word choice
  • Avoid certain wordsresponsibility, goal,
    interact, develop, role, integrity, leadership,
    excellence, interpersonal
  • Avoid slang and currently popular buzz phrases
  • Avoid superfluous wordsobviously, somewhat, I
    think or I believe, first, second, etc., however,
    thus, in conclusion
  • Avoid technical, scientific, and obscure
    SAT-style words

30
10 Steps continued
  • 7. Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Dos for stylistic devices
  • Do use analogies
  • Do incorporate dialogue
  • Do mix up sentence length
  • Do use logical paragraph breaks
  • Do use the active voice

31
10 Steps continued
  • 7 Impress with style not gimmicks
  • Donts for stylistic devices
  • Dont tell the reader explicitly I am a unique
    and interesting person
  • Dont parody a well-known writer or literary work
  • Dont use alliteration
  • Dont start too many sentences with the word I
  • Dont use a lot of
  • Dont necessarily write entirely in complete
    sentences

32
10 Steps continued
  • 8. Avoid careless errors and grammatical
    blunders
  • Actually read through for spelling/word usage
    errors
  • Get the school name right!
  • Have someone read it for grammatical errors

33
10 Steps continued
  • 9. Obtain useful feedback and fine-tune your
    essay
  • Ask someone to read it and respond to the
    question, If you didnt know me, what would you
    say about the person who wrote the essay?
  • Set the draft aside for several days, then reread
  • Post pieces of drafts on relevant internet
    newsgroups and bulletin boards for feedback-dont
    let on that it is for an application
  • Dont ask for too may perspectives on your essay
  • If described as cute, humorous, or clever
    revise so it is not!

34
10 Steps continued
  • 10. Package and present your essay appropriately
  • If permitted present essay on a separate sheet of
    paper
  • Number each page and include a header with your
    name and social security number
  • Assemble your essays properly
  • Comply with page restrictions
  • Dont worry too much about word counts
  • Type every essay using readable fonts and ample
    margins
  • Think twice before submitting supplementary
    materials
  • Do not submit essays on video or audiotape

35
(No Transcript)
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