Posts tagged with "College Essay Coach"

Summer Essay Coaching

red tulips istockThe earliest college applications aren’t due until this fall, but you can get started on your personal essay and get a jump on the process.  Most of the schools you apply to will accept the Common Application, and so you have the 2014-2015 essay questions in hand.  (They’re unchanged from last year, and you can find them here.)

It may only be April, but I’m already scheduling summer coaching sessions.  Remember that if you work with me, we meet face-to-face for about two hours, and then the rest of our sessions are online.  I’ll give you a questionnaire to complete that will help you to brainstorm for the essays, and there’s no need to write anything before we meet.  In fact, I don’t want you to write anything until after we meet.  Once we talk, you’ll have a much more complete picture of what college admission officers are expecting and what you want to write.

With tough classes ahead, more SAT/ACT testing, and college apps to complete, the first semester of your senior year is going to be intense.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have that personal essay written before the first day of school?

And, don’t forget, I’m giving a FREE presentation on “Writing the Personal Essay for College Apps” at 7 p.m. on April 29th in the auditorium of Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy St, Arlington, 22201.  Hope to see you there!

Socrates and the College App Essay

True Confession:  I was a Great Books major; ergo, one of my favorite quotes is from Socrates.  “The unexamined life is not worth living,” he said at his own trial.  I frequently share this quotation with my students in essay coaching sessions.

Why?  Because I want my students to see that self-examination is a major point of the college essay.  While college admissions officers certainly look at scores and grades and recommendations, they ultimately want to know that the applicant is someone who has experiences and learns from those experiences.  You might be the youngest person to have climbed Mount Everest, or you may have tutored lepers in India, but if you didn’t learn anything about yourself and the world, those experiences are meaningless.  If you can’t articulate who you are and who you want to be, your essay won’t be meaningful or convincing to a college admissions officer.

Applicants to college aren’t expected to have all the answers, but they should be able to pose important questions they’re not afraid to ask, such as why is my life worth living?  What do I value?  What valuable skills or attitude or aptitude will I bring to this college?

Writing an excellent college application essay is a truly introspective process.  Not only do the applicants have to choose a significant story, accomplishment, or place, they also have to share how that experience reverberates through their lives.  They need to examine their lives past, present, and future.  I am always happy to share the timeless wisdom of Socrates.

 

Common App Glitches

admission imageLike the rollout of so many new or revised products, the latest version of the Common App has experienced lots of glitches.  (See this recent article in The Washington Post for an update.)  All of this is occurring with the early application deadline of November 1st looming.  While a very few schools have extended their early deadline, it’s best to be prepared.

I just sent an email reminding all the students I coach to send their early applications in a few days before the November deadline to avoid tears and hair pulling. Chances are that the Common App system will be overloaded on 11/1, so it’s best to be prepared.

As they say, the best defense is a good offense.

 

College Essay Coaching in the News

From the new Common App essay questions to a novel based on the “frenzy” of applying, college essay coaching has been in the news lately.  I really like this article, “Confessions of a College Essay Coach,” by Elizabeth Benedict, which looks at some myths about essay coaches.  (No, we’re not going to write the essay for your kid.)

Most high schools seniors — even at some of our nation’s best schools — have little experience writing a personal essay.  They can write DBQ’s for AP history classes and literary analysis for AP English classes, but they don’t know how to tell their own story in vivid detail.  That’s where a good essay coach can step in and teach them how to bring their own experiences to life.

College admission officers also want to be assured that prospective students are reflective.  A good essay coach can nudge a writer to think more deeply about why, out of 18 years of life, he or she has chosen that one experience or place or failure to highlight. Usually, a student knows why it’s important but may need some help articulating it. In almost every coaching session, I tell one of my students, “Write that down! Just as you said it. That’s powerful.” Like all good coaches, an essay coach is something of a cheerleader.

According to an admission officer at Georgia Tech, only one in 20 college application essays are any good.  The rest are dull and predictable, like many of the first drafts I see from my students. Again, it’s not that the students can’t write well. It’s that they don’t really understand what a good essay looks like and how to get there.  (The Georgia Tech admissions officer was featured on the radio show, This American Life.)

In other news, I’m also looking forward to reading this new novel by Lacy Crawford,who’s billed as a college essay 16248259coach to the elite.  It’s getting strong reviews and should be fun reading!

Happy writing!

(Writing should be a happy experience. Truly.)