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Essay Tips to Consider

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Replies to: Essay Tips to Consider

  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 3,226 Senior Member
    I think it's a hard line to walk but it needs to be the student's voice within reason. I read S19's essays and the opposite is happening. He doesn't talk like these essays. His sentences seem too formal. Even little things seem too cleaned-up, like he used the word "postman" when he's never said that word. I asked him, "what do you call the person who brings the mail?" And he said "mailman". I had to ask him why was he using the word "postman" in his essay then?

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,370 Senior Member
    Why don’t you ask him to run that phrase by the teacher who said that to him? I do agree it has to be his voice and more casual than formal, but that doesn’t actually mean “let it all hang out”.
  • PbrainPbrain Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    Anyone else surprised by the college essay prompts this year? I went through this process with ds#1 about five years ago and the prompts were all very standard-why do you want our school blah blah. This year, the prompts are different at each school and really seem to have the purpose of “holistically selecting a type”. In other words, “no bias” in the admissions process because they can point to the essay results. I wish when we’d visited the schools they’d simply said they were now actively looking for certain type or demographic! Anyone else finding the essay questions tailored to promote certain demographics in the admissions process? Thoughts on this? One particular school, I’m wondering if my son should even bother applying because of its new admissions process and publicized aim.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,370 Senior Member
    @Pbrain You might want to start a separate thread on this, just to avoid the “tips” thread from veering off track. :)
  • PbrainPbrain Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    Shoot, sorry! I was thinking I need tips on how to address such pointed Qs when reading but did veer off. Can’t seem to delete. Ignore me
  • PortiaOKNathanPortiaOKNathan Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Mental health is a sensitive topic all around and writing about it, even someone else's may not be the best choice.BTW I knew of a brilliant student with excellent grades and test scores (talking ivy level) who did not get into the school's he should have because he wrote about his struggles with mental health in his essays.
  • PortiaOKNathanPortiaOKNathan Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    For what it's worth, I have a couple of essay suggestions that seemed to work for kids I know: First, write about an experience you have that changed you as an individual in a positive way--ideally something you did over a summer that involved more than working retail. If you haven't had an experience like that, maybe there's still time to move out of your comfort zone and do something that even in a small way makes your community a better place. Then, if you need a third letter of rec. (besides teachers and counselors) ask someone that you worked for during this transformative experience to write for you. This makes your essay positive, interesting, and because you have that extra letter, believable.
  • PortiaOKNathanPortiaOKNathan Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    So true! Also, keep in mind that you don't want to "tell" the reader about how great you are as this can be a turn off,
    but show your character through an experience that you describe.
  • Aneem00Aneem00 Registered User Posts: 237 Junior Member
    @PortiaOKNathan
    Sorry if I read this the wrong way, but it seems like you're recommending people to seek out experiences intentionally for the college essay. I've been told that that should not be the approach. And isn't it a little cliché to write about how an experience changed you in a positive way? I'm asking on the behalf of anyone who is struggling to find a topic to write about.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,370 Senior Member
    It can come off as trite if you aren’t careful.
  • EunbeenEunbeen Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thank you for sharing the valuable advice.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,040 Senior Member
    "And isn't it a little cliché to write about how an experience changed you in a positive way?" Too many are too worried about cliche. What do you think the point of the personal statement really is? It's not a writing contest or school assignment asking you to be uber unique. It's a view of you. Adcoms can read 100 on the same topic and see who shows the qualities they look for, who doesn't. Worry more about writing it well- and beng relevant to what your adcoms need to see, to build the class they want. Same old traits and skills. But have an idea what those are and show them.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,370 Senior Member
    I do think if you can write on something 100 students didn’t write on, that is an advantage.
  • typiCAmomtypiCAmom Registered User Posts: 425 Member
    @mjrube94, I am struggling with the same thing. My daughter’s style (and sense of humor) are pretty untraditional and while essay readers haven’t complained about language being too casual (I think she used a word no-brainer, too, they suggested it should be more serious in a way, especially when it comes to lessons learned. I don’t know where to draw the line between helping her Improve on her essay and stifling her voice. And personally, I like a “no brainer” more than say “an easy decision to make”.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,370 Senior Member
    We’d usually keep brainstorming for other phrases in a situation like this. An easy decision to make, an obvious choice, an easy choice, etc. My kids learned the value of a thesaurus in writing during middle school, and sometimes I encouraged them to Google for synonyms while working on their essay. They would do it for school assignments, sonehy not this?

    In my opinion, they should edit and polish their essays as they would any other piece of writing. “Their voice” doesn’t preclude thinking about what works best for their audience and serves their goal of getting admitted.
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