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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.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
College Admission Essay Writing - A Must for Law School or Business School
In today's world, an undergraduate degree is not always enough. Many people choose to take advantage of professional graduate schools to make the most of their chances in the job market. With more people than ever interested in advanced degrees, the need for great college admission essay writing skills is a big one.

Your college admission essay writing skills can mean the difference between a top law or business school, and a sub-standard one. Because of the vast number of applicants, most law schools and business schools have scrapped the traditional one-on-one interviews. That means your college admission essay writing skills are your only chance to stand out in a pool of applicants that all have great grades, great test scores, and a great list of extracurricular activities.

With an MBA admission essay, you have to start by asking yourself, 'if every other applicant was a great undergrad, what makes me different?' That's the question people reading your MBA admission essay will have. After all, pouring over applications is tough; admissions boards are looking to your writing to help make their decisions easier.

And, remember, top business schools only accept about 12% of all applicants.

However, at the top law schools, the situation is no different. The race to a seat in law school is a competitive one. There are far too many applicants to do personal interviews for each one, so your law school personal statement is going to have to speak for itself. You need to explain why you are the right choice, over thousands of other applicants. What makes you stand out? What qualities will make you a great law student? Why will you be a great asset to any law school? Those are the questions your law school personal statement will need to answer.

Law schools can be particularly picky about essays, because they know that you want to be a lawyer - someone whose job it will be to prove their point of view is correct, on a daily basis. A law school personal statement can give them a clue as to what kind of lawyer you will make.

And, remember, only 11% of law school applicants actually get accepted.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Celebrating Admissions Essays' Success
This is probably long overdue, but I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate Admissions Essays' incredible success by writing a quick note to thank all of our writers, editors, staff, and of course, our clients. My name is Thomas Sug and I am one of the co-founders of Admissions Essays.com.

Admissions Essays was first started back in 1996, and was conceived out of a law school dorm room by a couple of students during 1L at the UC Hastings College of Law. 13 years later, we are still the most recognized admission essay and personal statement development service on the web, and while numerous other sites have attempted to copy us, we remain the leader.

So what is the secret to our success? Well, it is no secret at all. We simply put our clients first and we make sure that they are happy with the service we provide. At the end, we simply provide the type of finished product that is simply unmatched by any of our competitors. Our model essay development service has been featured in numerous publications across all types of media outlets.

We also ensure that our writers, editors, and staff are well taken care of. We learned long ago, that a happy editor produces great work, and that in turn leads to happy clients. In fact, as word spreads, we have been inundated by solicitations from writers and editors who work for our competitors but wish to work for us.

Over the years, we have served thousands of clients from all walks of life. From the typical high school senior to an executive at a fortune 500 company looking to obtain an advanced degree, our goal always remains the same - to provide outstanding service and work product while maintaining the highest level of integrity and confidentiality.

I am very proud of what we have built and I am excited about our future. We will be here for you, and I personally thank you all - our staff and clients - for making Admissions Essays what it is today.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Theming the Personal Statement

Students often obsess over writing personal statements that they think admissions officers will want to read when, in all likelihood, pandering to a reader and writing about something that doesn’t reflect your true personality produces something inauthentic and stale. Still, it can be difficult to decide how to craft that perfect personal statement that crams a few decades of life into 500 pithy words.

Consider the following themes while drafting your personal statement. These themes were compiled after reading essays that worked for students seeking admission to Ivy League schools.

1. What really makes you happy.

What in your life, without fail, brings on a smile? One Yale student wrote his personal statement about cooking salmon with his dad. Through the story of preparing a meal, the student was able to explain why he loved the process of cooking and how it brought him closer to his father. By writing about what genuinely excites you, it will be easy to convey enthusiasm and a unique part of your personality.

2. A hilarious experience.

When reviewing applications, admissions officers sit in offices all day and read hundreds of essays, the majority of which are serious in tone. Consider writing about a hilarious personal experience to make a subtle point about your personality. Making an admissions officer laugh will typically be more effective than making some dramatic claim about your life philosophy. One Harvard student wrote his personal statement about dressing up as a knight, constructing foam weapons, and staging a medieval battle at a nearby soccer field with his friends. This anecdote communicated that the student was creative, able to execute his ideas, and a little bit eccentric. Moreover, the essay was fun to read, and probably fun to write.

3. A literary passage that carries special meaning for you.

Has a quote, poem, or literary passage informed your view of the world? Quotes are beneficial for applicants because they associate the student with a figure from history. If you quote Jon Stewart, it’s likely that you appreciate wry political commentary. If you quote Hannibal Lecter, it’s likely that you’re crazy. Quotes also provide a great starting place for a personal statement. Transcribe the quote, source it, and then explain how you encountered it and why it’s important to you.

4. A quirky hobby.

In your application, your pedigree and qualifications will stand on their own. Your personal statement offers you the chance to let your personality shine. It should not be a venue for boasting. One of the best ways to let your personality shine through is to write about a quirky personal hobby that you would never list on the “Activities” portion of a college application. Are you an avid tree climber? Do you absolutely love collecting post cards? Explain your hobby and why it interests you. This explanation will reveal more about you than you might think.

5. A defining moment.

If you are lucky enough to have experienced a defining experience in your life that determined your course of academic study, commit it to words. Did working in a soup kitchen convince you that you should dedicate your life to ending world poverty? Did learning about AIDS in AP Bio convince you that should pursue science and work toward a cure? Few students are lucky enough to have had these epiphanies.

Even if you don’t end up using one of these themes for your personal statement, thinking about these ideas will help generate ideas for whatever your personal statement becomes.

And, of course, if you ever need assistance, we’re here to help.

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Friday, September 18, 2009
10 Tips For Writing A Winning College Admission Essay

10 Tips for Writing a College Essay that Gets You Noticed

1. Obviously, read the instructions carefully. Most colleges will specify a word length or provide a topic for you to address. Others, like the Common Application, will allow you to choose from a list. If you're applying to ten colleges, you may want to consider writing about a topic that you can adjust for other applications. If you do decide to use one essay for all of your colleges, I would suggest that you try to find a way to personalize it a little for each school. Can you make it specific to their community or values?

2. Choose a topic that allows you to express what you value, who you are as a person, and what you can add to the campus community. Take some time to really think about your topic and try to choose something unique. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays. The most common ones are about sports achievements and participation in volunteer work. If you are thinking about choosing one of these topics, can you think of a way to make it different?

3. Remember: The admissions essay is NOT a resume! It is impossible to tell the committee everything about you in one short essay. Instead of listing all of the things you've done, choose ONE thing and tell a story that lets the committee see many things about you. Also…don't write about something that you've included in another part of the application.

4. If there is anything about your application that needs to be explained (weak grades, for example), then you may want to include it in your essay. Discuss how you approached any difficulties and explain what you learned as a result. Don't make excuses; just be honest! Your reader may be impressed with your ability to tackle a problem head on, rather than avoid it altogether.

5. Write an opener that hooks your readers. You want them to actually want to continue reading rather than think, "I've read this story a million times before." Can you entice them with a personal anecdote, for example? Quotes are also good, but you should know that

a lot of people take this approach. If you use a quote, don't just toss it in there and think it's enough. Build a story around it! Make it relevant!

6. Make sure your essay is organized. Take your reader on a journey, from beginning to end. There should be a logical progression of information.

7. Conclusions are equally important. The best essays will come full-circle, meaning that they connect back to their openers in a meaningful way. Give your readers something to think about and most importantly, make them hang on to your last word.

8. Choose an appropriate tone. If you're funny, then fine. Make them laugh! But don't try to be something you're not. Be true to yourself; show your own personality!

9. Avoid the thesaurus! If I haven't stressed it enough, then let me do it again: Be yourself! Students often run to the thesaurus to replace their own words with ones that 'sound' more sophisticated. But chances are if you didn't know to use this word to begin with, then you probably don't understand its subtleties. Essays that rely too heavily on a thesaurus are often confusing and choppy!

10. Spell Check is NEVER enough! There is more to editing an essay than running it through Spell Check. While it's a great start, this program does not pick up usage or grammatical errors. Give your essay to someone you trust and ask them to read it. Feedback will help you build an even stronger essay. It will also help you avoid mistakes that make you stand out to the admissions Committee.

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Friday, September 11, 2009
Attention High School Seniors - Top 15 MUST DOs for your College Application
High school seniors, do you know what time it is? It's time to kick-start the college admissions process! Take it from the 'real' experts…first-year college freshmen. When I asked them before class yesterday what advice they would give to high school seniors who were staring down the 'admissions tunnel', they unanimously agreed: "Start now! Don't wait!", chimed one from Maryland. Another (from New Jersey) said, "Don't wait until the last minute to write essays!" And yet another (from Connecticut, I think) yelled, "Make sure you stay organized and keep track of what each college wants because it seems to be different for EVERY, SINGLE school." I could sense some frustration in that last response.

Unanimously--and rather unceremoniously--they all agreed that it's best NOT to procrastinate when it comes to admissions 'stuff'. With that said, I thought it might be a good idea to provide you with a timeline. Now, if you're among the rare few who have already organized your stuff, visited campuses, written rough drafts of your essays, requested letters of recommendation, and written a resume, then you're in the clear. For the rest of you (most of you, I assume), let's hope this puts it into perspective and gives you a bit of inspiration.

September & October:
• If you are planning to take (or re-take) the SAT (including subject tests) and/or ACT, then now is the time to register. Check the dates and register in advance. There's no point in paying late fees. Info can be found at www.collegeboard.com. Also make sure you request that scores be sent directly to your colleges.
• Start working on a resume. Be sure to include your class statistics (rank, GPA, etc), a list of clubs and/or sports, your work experience, special projects, awards/honors. No need to include all of the information that can be found on a transcript. Get some advice from a guidance counselor, parent, or teacher.
• Do a bit of review work for the SAT/ACT. There are lots of great books out there to help you get some practice. You might also want to consider registering for a review course.
• Make sure you are aware of deadlines for each college. If you are planning to apply under the early decision/early action option, be sure that you know the deadlines and understand the commitment.
• If you haven't already done so, visit college campuses to see whether they are the 'right fit' for you. Most students say that they "just knew" as soon as they visited.
• Start working on those college admissions essays and personal statements. These DO make an impression, so you want to leave plenty of time to have someone look them over for you. Poor proofreading, lack of focus/organization, inconsistent grammar and punctuation, and lousy sentence construction all make a negative impression. You want to make the admissions committee think, "We've got to get this kid on campus!"
• Ask appropriate teachers/counselors/others to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. Be sure to give them a copy of your resume…and make sure they are aware of your deadlines. Also…give them plenty of time. Frustration sets in easily when students approach teachers at the last minute.
• Request transcripts!
• Begin researching scholarship opportunities. This can be a daunting process. You will need to fill out applications, write essays, and possibly even attend an interview. Best to start EARLY!

November & December:
• Polish your essays!
• Ask recommenders whether they have sent your letters.
• Look over your applications carefully. Many colleges encourage electronic submissions, but this is no excuse for poor proofreading. Ask someone to have a look before you hit that 'send button'.
• Pick up FAFSA forms from your guidance department. There is a lot of required information that your parents will need to provide assistance with. For more information, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov.
• If you are applying for scholarships, start writing those essays and requesting letters of recommendation, if necessary. You should keep an organized list that includes requirements and due dates.
• Finally, check to see whether your colleges have received all of the components of your application. If you've submitted online, then there is likely a link where you can check the status of your application. If you've done it the 'old-fashioned' way, then it might be a good idea to call the Admissions Office to check.

Good luck with it all. The process is enough to drive even the calmest, most organized person a little insane. But with some forethought and preparedness, you'll survive.

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Friday, September 4, 2009
INSIDE INFO - Admissions Essays ARE REALLY that important.
A friend of mine has been an Admissions Counselor at a small liberal arts college for the past 13 years; for the past 3 he has served as Head of Admissions. Without giving too much away, I'll simply say that the college has been on Princeton Review's Top 50 List for as long as I can remember. It's a great school. Anyway, on the eve of his 'busy season', which requires a lot of traveling for college fairs and high school information sessions, he was nice enough to talk to me about the whole admissions process and, more specifically, the role of the admissions essay in the 'grand scheme' of things.

What I found most enlightening was his insistence that the essay is a key component of their selection process. I recently read an article that claimed the admissions essay was the last thing that some of the top schools were considering. But he said that while other factors (grades and test scores) helped them to weed through the masses, it was the essay (and the letters of recommendation) that helped the counselors get to know the 'person' rather than the 'applicant'. Furthermore, it sometimes helped give those who may not be immediately accepted because of grades, an extra boost. Even more interesting--was that when all factors are equal (two candidates have similar test scores, GPA's, and activities), it was often the essay that ended up being the deciding factor; the essay that gave the committee a sense of the applicant's personality and made them think 'we want this kid' was the thing that landed the candidate in the acceptance pile.

He went on to tell me about some of his favorite essays that he's read over the years…some because they were amazing, and others because they were, well, not amazing. He also offered incoming freshmen some advice about choosing a topic. He said that he's read countless essays about sports and volunteer activities--and that while those things are certainly admirable, the essay about them often ends up sounding just like the one he's just read. So rather than simply tell about the experience in general, it's better to find something unique about it--a specific story that reveals a little something extra. His favorites are the ones that make him think, laugh, smile, sometimes shed a tear and/or show some creativity and thought. He wants to see essays that are well presented, thoughtfully considered, and honest. And his final bit of advice: "Proofread! Please proofread!"

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Monday, August 31, 2009
Wharton MBA Application Essays
Just over a week ago, Wharton opened its online application for its class of 2012 MBA graduates. Here are their new questions:

Essay 1 – (750-1000 words)
As a leader in global business, Wharton is committed to sustaining “a truly global presence through its engagement in the world.” What goals are you committed to and why? How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals?

Essay 2 – (750-1000 words)
Tell us about a time when you had to adapt by accepting/understanding the perspective of people different from yourself.

Essay 3 – (500 words)
Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself?

Essay 4 – (500 words) Choose one of the following:

a. Give us a specific example of a time when you solved a complex problem.
b. Tell us about something significant that you have done to improve yourself, in either your professional and/or personal endeavors.

What I want to highlight with regard to these questions isn’t Wharton, but the scope of the questions and what those questions can tell you about what any MBA program is looking for in their candidates. You'll notice, for example, that the questions intentionally blend the personal and the professional. While the first question clearly demands a consideration of your own professional goals and how the Wharton MBA program will prepare you to meet those goals, the rest of the topics allow you to choose between presenting an example that is personal in nature, or one that speaks to professional experience and qualifications.

The point is…all MBA programs (not just Wharton's) are competitive; there are many more applicants than there are spaces. That's the reality. Candidates therefore need to be particularly selective about the information that they choose to present. Ideally, you should help the admissions committee understand who you are on both a personal and professional level. The questions are left intentionally 'open' in order to allow you, as a prospective student, to showcase your individual skills and experiences. There is no 'rule' that says you must use a professional experience to address the question. Rather, you should concentrate on making sure that your response (regardless of the specific example you use) highlights your talents and abilities.

When you look at the essay topic(s) for your MBA program, you should consider how best to tell a story about YOU. When it's possible (especially if you have a long resume of experiences), take the opportunity to tell the committee about who you are 'on the job'. But don't rely on that alone; it's simply not enough. For those of you who do not have a great deal of business exposure (and even for those of you who do), you've got to use personal experiences to show that you have a range of skills that will prove helpful in the MBA program…and beyond. Stepping into the personal also gives your readers a chance to know you on many levels--to understand your personality…and your potential. That may just make all the difference when they are staring at hundreds of essays…and trying to recall the applicants who captured their interest. My best advice: find the balance, whether you are given four essays to answer, or just one. See yourself as a storyteller and your MBA essay(s) as the story you are excited to have the opportunity to tell.

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