Such essays read like what they are: tedious lists. Other parts of the application provide plenty of space for you to list extracurricular activities, so save your lists for the places where they belong.
Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay
The most engaging and compelling essays tell a story and have a clear focus. Through carefully chosen detail, your writing should reveal your passions and expose your personality. A thoughtful and detailed narration of a difficult time in your life tells far more about you than a list of competitions won and honors achieved. While it's important to be thoughtful and mature, you don't want your college application essay to be too heavy. Try to lighten up the essay with a clever metaphor, a well-placed witticism, or a little self-deprecating humor.
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But don't overdo it. The essay that is filled with bad puns or off-color jokes will often end up in the rejection pile. Also, humor isn't a substitute for substance. Your primary task is to answer the essay prompt thoughtfully; the smile you bring to your reader's lips is just a bonus and a tear can sometimes be effective too.
Many students have been rejected for failing to take the prompt seriously and writing essays that end up being more foolish than clever. Not just humor, but the overall tone of your application essay is remarkably important. It's also difficult to get right.
What this handout is about
When you are asked to write about your accomplishments, those words on how great you are can make you sound like a braggart. Be careful to balance your pride in your achievements with humility and generosity towards others. You also want to avoid sounding like a whiner -- use your essay to show off your skills, not to explain the injustices that lead to your low math score or failure to graduate 1 in your class.
Along with the essay, most colleges rate "character and personal qualities" as extremely important in their admissions decisions. Your character shows up in three places on the application: the interview if you have one , your involvement in extracurricular activities , and your essay. My experience as such entails sustained, cross-sectional exposure to scores of young families.
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I know the incomparable market of NYC schooling—from toddler classes through high school, public and private. Characters make for interesting reads; candidates don't.
Why is it so difficult to find words that do justice to a real-life character? Language is the imperfect medium of thought. These years are challenging enough without having to compete for admission to school. Competitive school admission being the NYC reality, however, there's a benefit to having an impartial party—rather than a parent—collaborate with the student who is writing the application essay.
Nothing rocks family relations more easily than a well-intentioned parent's critique of a stressed student's work. I'll take the heat for you—I have nothing to lose.
You completed the forms and short-answer questions weeks ago. The thought of the essay, however, leads you to reconsider whether you actually have a shot at beating out the competition. I could remind you that "You have to be in it to win it," but that's insufficient motivation for most people when faced with a blank page. Sometimes all that stands between a strong applicant and a strong application is a partner like The Varsity Pen—one that's removed from the stakes, serves as an editorial sounding board, and is experienced in a range of writing styles.
From thesis development and large-scale organization, to grammar and syntax, I address writing concerns at every level.
Come to me with just your assignment sheet and angst…or submit your draft in advance of our session so we can hit the ground running. The Varsity Pen is founded upon the belief that clear, compelling writing—and its accompanying critical thinking—are skills that anyone can master. Then I teach to those gaps.
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If you WANT, however, to be able to stand by every sentence—and every word, and every punctuation choice—get your thesis to The Varsity Pen! Many of us were taught grammar, but never actually learned it. Others were never taught grammar, but are expected to intuit it. Both of these groups are in luck, because The Varsity Pen is nothing short of obsessed with teaching grammar in ways that are relevant and fresh. Your endeavor needs clear, compelling copy that sets it apart from others. Some of the best ideas languish because of uninspired copy that fails to command attention.