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Admissions Essays Blog
Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Simmering Potential of Summer Break
Though high school can be an amazing time of growth and exploration for most of us, we don't appreciate it until the time has long passed. This is a normal part of life. The problem is that high school is such a monumental turning point for most young people. If college is on the agenda, those four years are crucial.

With summer fast approaching, droves of high school students will start shaking out their beach towels and settling themselves down for a much-deserved break. Mediocre idea. Summer is the season of promise. It is the proverbial blank canvas onto which high school students have the opportunity to paint a veritable rainbow of life experiences. This is important when you are seventeen and dreaming of going to college. (Trust me, college is full of fun summers). It's only when you sit down to begin writing your college admission essay that you'll realize just how short you are on "experiences". The time invested in school and academics sometimes absorbs the more colorful parts of a student's personality. Hobbies and passions get pushed to the backburner. You will miss them most when trying to come up with a clever hook for your personal statement.

Enter summer. You don't have to log fourteen hour days at half a dozen charities. You don't have to build houses in underdeveloped nations. It's ok to think smaller, so long as you're thinking creatively. Albert Einstein once quipped that he had no special talents-he was merely "passionately curious". Build on this idea.

Relax. You do not need to be the best at everything. But you should get up off that beach towel.


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Sunday, May 20, 2012
Looking to be an Admissions Stand-Out? Find a College Rep
In the strategy of college admissions, there are really only two things that matter. Being smarter and being different. Naturally, the reality isn't that simple. But much of the sweeping competition can be distilled down into these simple categories. Students must have the grades and scores to get them over the hurdle at their desired schools. They must also possess the elusive "it" factor.

There's lots of talk about colleges looking for a "diverse" student body, and students who are the "right fit" for the university. Ok, I get that. It's kind of like searching for the right relationship. Hard to put into words. So in the absence of knowing precisely what colleges are looking for, students really have to stage a performance where merit and uniqueness have starring roles.

There isn't much students can do to glam up grades and scores. The admissions essay is the primary getting-to-know-you vehicle, and even at that, the 500-word limit on most means pretty limited stage time.

Enter College Representatives. Virtually every university in the country has a representative assigned to every high school. Other reps simply hit the pavement every year meeting with students at different schools in order to share information (and market) their respective colleges. Students should not simply grab a brochure and move onto the next table. Instead, view any conversation with a college representative as an opportunity. In today's electronic media world, the value of a face-to-face meeting has never been greater. Take their business card, have a conversation. Then bookmark it. You just made an actual human contact at the school(s) of your choice.

Obviously, this isn't a ticket in, but it does help to personalize you. This college representative may even be involved in the review of your admissions application. Every little bit of familiarity helps.


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Sunday, May 13, 2012
Adding Value to your Admission Essay
Lots of fuss has been made, in this blog and elsewhere, about the high premium placed on third-level education in this country. The increasing competition at the top institutions has created a massive market for college admission prep, and a culture of anxiety surrounding the college admissions process. Most people view college admission as the ticket to success in life, but most young students don't fully appreciate its value.

Kicking in for tuition teaches young adults key life skills and makes them appreciate what they're getting for their money.

Let's take a look at this idea in the context of the admission essay. Most students look at the essay as an obstacle, rather than a ticket in. Like standardized testing and form applications, it is just another aggravating factor in the college admissions drudgery. But let's imagine for a minute that the student composing the essay knew that, wherever they got in, they'd be paying all or some of their tuition.

First of all, it might help take some of the sheen off of the elite institutions. Want to go to Yale? Got $40K for the first year? Secondly, it reminds students that attending college is as much of a privilege as getting in. The road doesn't stop at the admissions letter. Neither do life lessons of budgeting, time management, and following through on commitments end with college graduation.

So while college is a reward for a student's efforts, treating it as gift can undermine its real value. The admissions essay is just a tiny piece of a tiny era in a student's life. It is not a long-term responsibility.

Teaching young students how to apportion worth to every component of their college education is a vital lesson that will help them through the admissions process and well into their future.


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Sunday, May 6, 2012
Be Passionate, Not Just Busy
And the College Admissions Cycle Churns On.

Like any part of life, the college admissions cycle isn't a linear story. It may seem like it to every college hopeful--especially this time of year when students find out their fate. A decade of academic preparation all teetering on the weight and breadth of an envelope. And yet, by late spring, most of this year's college freshman have either happily plucked the first- choice bud from the bouquet of acceptance letters, or dusted the sting of rejection off their knees, and moved on. As they do, the cycle marches on.

A sift through the blogs shows that the focus has shifted from "how to deal with rejection", and moved on to the proverbial lists of how to get into "the right college for you".

Debunked myths are always helpful to anxious students new to navigating the tempestuous process of college admissions. I like this one. It's full of common sense, but common sense always sounds better coming from someone with apparent admissions credentials: Forbes

He remarks that, "Schools love passionate students, not just busy ones". Having read and edited thousands of essays myself, I would certainly second this. Honestly, long lists of accolades not only bore me but also convince me of a student's complete insincerity. Almost none of us has the time or capacity to be completely committed to and passionate about, well, everything. When someone tries to convince me otherwise, I just don't believe them. Why should admissions officers be any different?

This is another good time to remember the constant circulation of the college admissions cycle. For a student, it may come down to several profound months, but for the folks on the other side of the college application, this is just another year. So once, again, keep your heads down and your chins up, and try to keep it all in perspective.


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