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What exactly is a GREAT hook for college essays? What's mine? Please help!

Luna123LCLuna123LC 48 replies2 threads Junior Member
Hi! I am an upcoming senior at a small school! I'm a white bisexual disabled female. I want to major in environmental science or biology and get my masters and eventually PhDs.
Interested in ecotoxicology. I've always been passionate about animals, science, and the environment.

I have a couple of health issues: Ehlers danlos syndrome (hypermobility type) and ear issues. I was born with chronic ear infections and I had to take speech lessons from 1-10. And now I participate in speech and debate. I was diagnosed with hEDS when I was in figure skating. I had to stop figuring skating and sports due to the severity. I also have battled severe depression and general anxiety disorder.

STATS:
GPA: 3.98/4
ACT: 33
Math: 30 Science: 35 English: 34 Reading: 34

EXTRACURRICULARS
1. Debate: Varsity policy debater, info, and USX speaker.
2. President of an environmental club at school (cleanups, planting trees, recycling initiatives, fundraisers, etc)
3. I started and help facilitate my school’s Mental Health Support group
4. Student Council (representative freshman and junior year)
5. International Cultural Club
6. High School Band

INTERESTS
1. I play guitar (acoustic and electric), ukulele, alto saxophone, and piano. Learning bass guitar.
2. Sign language
3. Kayaking/camping/hiking/biking
4. Scuba Diving

COMMUNITY SERVICE
1. Founder and president of the non-profit Holidays in Hospitals. Awarded the Cox Health Partners Spirit Winner (2018) and a regional runner up for best newest non-profit.
2. Volunteer 10 hours a week at a local museum and aquarium (Wonders of Wildlife) have 1,000+ hours, Volunteer of the Year recipient, Volunteer of the Month recipient, and teach a couple of outdoor skills classes (only teen to do so)
3. Youth Interfaith Project of the Ozarks Youth Council (Youth Representative)

RESEARCH
1. Establishing Evolutionary Relationships Between Ten Native Eastern American Conifers Through DNA Comparison: OSEF Grand prize 2nd alternate, OSEF 1st place Senior Division Botany, OSEF MSU Biology Department Research award, the Office of Naval Research Naval Science Research award, OSEF Women in Science Award, OSEF the Stan Howell Memorial Botany award
2. Comparing the Impacts of Microfibers and Microplastics on Invasive Corbicula fluminea Filtration: OSEF 3rd place Senior Division Environmental Science
3. Currently researching the Comparative Analysis of Various Microfibers and Microplastics on Filtration, feces, and behavior of Corbicula fluminea

Any suggestions for essays? Hooks? How not to make it extremely cliche?
13 replies
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Replies to: What exactly is a GREAT hook for college essays? What's mine? Please help!

  • me29034me29034 2190 replies110 threads Senior Member
    You are misunderstanding what a hook is. A hook is something that fulfills an institutional need for the school, like a recruited athlete, or a child or a rich or famous person. At some schools legacy or URM are considered hooks. Bottom line is you can't create a hook. You either have it or you don't.

    It sound like you have overcome a lot of challenges in your life. I'm sure you can come up with a great essay using some of your experiences and how you have persevered though your challenges and risen above them.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2802 replies14 threads Senior Member
    me29034 wrote: »
    It sound like you have overcome a lot of challenges in your life. I'm sure you can come up with a great essay using some of your experiences and how you have persevered though your challenges and risen above them.


    No, do not. This is one of the commonly given bits of bad advice for essays.

    Your essay where you show the AOs something which is not on your resume or in you LoRs. It is not a place where you tell the AOs about your life's difficulties. How I Had Difficulties But Persevered is one of the most used topics, and also one of the topics which is one of the most difficult to write about in a manner which will make an applicant more attractive for AOs.

    While your difficulties have played a central part in your life, they are your particular mountain. For the AOs, they are just one more story among thousands. You are not competing with other students to see who has had the worst time, since that will only garner sympathy from AOs, not interest.

    Just as importantly, it is almost impossible to write about one's own travails without violating the all important "show, don't tell" rule.

    You definitely do not want to draw attention to health issues, especially depression. Colleges are notoriously risk-averse, and you do not want to flag yourself as a potential liability.

    College admissions is not a competition to see who "deserves" it the most. It is about colleges selecting who they think will give the most to them.
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  • Luna123LCLuna123LC 48 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @me29034

    @MWolf

    Oh oops! I meant like a theme for essays not like a hook hook for colleges lol. I was meaning a hook on personal essays. A theme. Sorry about that.

    I do know not to draw attention to mental health because it is seen as cliche and there's a large stigma in college admissions.

    For MWolf, I've been given the advice to write perseverance essays for college, but I have also heard not to focus or talk about your struggles. How do you suggest I go about getting the AO's interest in my essays?
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  • MWolfMWolf 2802 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited July 17
    Show, don't tell is the first, second, and third rule. The fourth rule is also "show, don't tell".

    Here are some examples of effective essays:

    https://www.thecrimson.com/topic/sponsored-successful-harvard-essays-2019/

    https://www.thecrimson.com/topic/sponsored-successful-harvard-essays-2018/

    https://apply.jhu.edu/application-process/essays-that-worked/

    On prep scholar's website, look for "college essay examples that worked expert analysis"

    Of course, essay reviews are all subjective, so not everybody would consider these essays to be that excellent. Moreover, different colleges prefer different types of essay. BUT, while you can never be sure that everybody will think that your essay will be great, you can make sure that you don't have an essay that nobody thinks is great.
    edited July 17
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10040 replies389 threads Senior Member
    You're better off having your guidance counselor address the challenges you've faced. Your essays are a good place to show how you're a fit for that particular college.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 11009 replies593 threads Super Moderator
    Your sexuality is also not a hook for an essay.
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  • Luna123LCLuna123LC 48 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @MWolf
    Thanks for the links and suggestions

    @austinmshauri
    I'm not asking for help addressing my challenges, I'm just asking for suggestions writing a college application essay.

    @Lindagaf
    I'm aware, I'm giving background info.

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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10040 replies389 threads Senior Member
    Read post 4. It has some good suggestions. You should also look at the examples posted there.
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  • sherwin9747sherwin9747 6 replies0 threads New Member
    Every year there are millions of applicant while the essay topics are very limited. So there is no an absolute "cliche" theme, what you need to avoid is a cliche story. Find a story with significance, reflection and enssure you can tell in an attractive way.

    Many successful Common essays tell stories about daily lives other than academics, ECs, and interests. However, I could see a couple potential thems in your stats that you can use for essay.

    One could be your passion with animal: cause, finding, relationship, interaction, affection. Your community service is amazing too, can you tell the story behind your Holidays in Hospitals or 1000+ hours in essay?

    "Difficulty & overcoming" sounds cliche, but you can still consider the topic of listiening difficulty in a way of focusing on the impacts and how that has shaped you.

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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7647 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Excellent advice. Read the essays. But for suggestions combine your interests to come up with something totally different.

    https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaax0903

    Play around with this with search terms to see if anything gets the creative juices flowing. This is for stimulation. How does your multiple interests and activities relate to your proposed major. In what role will you do this and be an active participate in the college community? Does school X offer your major and what classes /clubs /activities support it. Your propose PhD major is interesting. Is there a professor you can speak to or email to find out more.?
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  • Luna123LCLuna123LC 48 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @sherwin9747

    Thank you for the advice! I've been working on writing an essay about Holidays in Hospitals and another about volunteering with intertwining hearing and how that's impacted my perspective. Thanks again!


    @Knowsstuff

    Thanks for the advice and the link. The nature and mental health combined perspectives were helpful. The questions are particularly engaging, thank you. I have only talked to a local professor and teachers about PhDs. Right now I'm really just focusing on getting to college.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7647 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Luna123LC wrote: »
    @sherwin9747

    Thank you for the advice! I've been working on writing an essay about Holidays in Hospitals and another about volunteering with intertwining hearing and how that's impacted my perspective. Thanks again!


    @Knowsstuff

    Thanks for the advice and the link. The nature and mental health combined perspectives were helpful. The questions are particularly engaging, thank you. I have only talked to a local professor and teachers about PhDs. Right now I'm really just focusing on getting to college.

    Talking to professors now about anything at your target schools is my point. You can use the fact that you talked to Professor "X" at "Y" college to gain more insight into "Z". Both my kids had meetings with professors when we went for college tours. They gained insight. Since you can't really do that these days getting information or Skype with a professor just might be something that someone else isn't doing. One layer deeper of researching the college
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  • Luna123LCLuna123LC 48 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @Knowsstuff
    Ah okay. That makes sense. Thank you for that insight.
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