7 Tips For Writing The Why This College Essay - Homework for you

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7 Tips For Writing The Why This College Essay

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10 Simple Tips for Staying Sane While Writing College Application Essays

10 Simple Tips for Staying Sane While Writing College Application Essays

David Letterman's top ten lists will never lose their appeal. It's as though all the wisdom on any subject can be contained in these simple, breezy lines -- and who knows, maybe they can be. These are general guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Not every applicant will be able to do these in this order and some may be more relevant than others.

There's no getting around it. The essays are a slog, and if you're applying to schools with many supplements or several schools not on the Common Application, it's a lot of work. But -- the good news! -- doing the work is a way to focus your experience, your perceptions, your goals, and your sense of yourself as a soon-to-be college student, especially during interviews. Finding your voice and your story will help you make that transition.

2. Ask for help -- from people and online.

Writers (and doctors and engineers and parents) ask for help all the time. Just because writing is a solitary activity doesn't mean you shouldn't seek advice and reactions from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends, parents, or the abundant information online. Ask for help brainstorming. Read online posts about how to tackle various questions. Check out college app essays that are posted, but don't be discouraged by them. You're looking at final drafts, not early drafts. Ask for help from teachers, guidance counselors, family friends who are writers or educators -- and/or your parents. And be prepared to rewrite. And rewrite.

3. There are no right answers.

Students often say: What does the school want me to write? The school wants to know what you think and what your experience is. The essay is a kind of interview. Reveal yourself. Make sure you essay tells us what it is that you want the colleges to know about you: Your passions, your talents, your ambitions, the qualities that make you who you are.

4. Choose colleges before you begin writing.

Make a chart of what essays are required for each college:

Have a sense in advance how many essays you might have to do -- whether it's three or 15 or even 20. Some colleges/universities have two, three, four or even more essays. Though the essays may only be 100, 250 or 500 words, they must be well-considered words. Some of the essays are creative ("What makes you happy?"), others are more straightforward (why this college/why your major).

5. If you are applying mostly to schools using the Common Application, it's almost always best to start writing that essay first.

It's critical to know which universities use which essays or groups of essays. 500-plus colleges use the Common Application and many have supplements in addition to the core Common App essay (one essay chosen from five prompts, 650 words). Other universities have their own essays entirely, among them: MIT, Georgetown, Universities of Wisconsin, Texas and California (one application for all nine branches). If you are doing Common App schools, plus MIT, plus Georgetown and U. California schools, that is about 15 essays (from 100 to 500 or 650 words) right there. Once you see the essay requirements all together -- whether they are core essays or supplements -- you might change your mind about your college selections.

6. Recycle essays or passages where you can.

Once you have your list with all the topics and lengths, you can start to see what topics and pieces of essays you might be able to "recycle" and use multiple times. It is not cheating to use the same passages in multiple essays. What you do not want to do is write a generic "Why I Want to Go to X College." If your "Why This College" can be used multiple places, it needs work: specificity, detail, and homework. Study the college, the curriculum and what makes it stand out to you.

7. Which essay should you do next?

It depends on deadlines, recycling, and other factors, such as where you might be applying early action/decision (usually Nov. 1 deadlines). There are no hard and fast rules. If you're applying to the University of California system, you must submit applications during the month of November -- and that's it. A number of big universities are not Common Application schools. If these are top choice universities, you might want to do these first -- even before the Common App essay, as long as you're not applying early elsewhere.

8. Getting down to it.

There are dozens of websites that give advice about the nitty gritty of writing the essays. There are also many sites that publish college essays. DO take a look at these if you need help getting started or getting ideas, but don't feel you must write essays like the ones you're reading. There is a huge variety in college application essays. And keep in mind that the essays you're reading online have been through many drafts. You are not going to turn out a terrific essay in one or two sittings. Don't be discouraged! Prepare to do three or four or more drafts.

9. The writing and language, in a nutshell -- or two:

Much of the advice comes down to: write in your own voice, as though you are talking more than writing an academic paper. The tone should be more informal than the stiff, academic language you would use when writing a history paper. It's sometimes helpful to write the essay as though you're writing a letter to someone -- a friend or mentor.

SS language, word choices and other writing tips:

The essay is not a place to show off your SAT vocabulary or your love of writing poetry. Use SS language: simple and straightforward. But though it's SS, it must be precise, detailed, and specific. For instance: "My parents are in the military and we moved a lot" vs: "My parents are medics in the Army, and we've lived in five countries since I was born, including Poland, Germany, and Botswana." Specific details are always more memorable, and forcing yourself to focus on detail focuses your brain and your powers of perception.

10. It's often great to start an essay with an active example of what you'll be writing about. Put us in the middle of the action and then step back and explain how you got there and how it relates to the essay prompt.

"The conductor pointed his baton to the string section, and we began the fugue that ends the second movement of Brahms' Requiem. My fingers responded to the building excitement of the rapid tempo, and I was enveloped in the sweep of sound. I fell in love with the viola when I was four, and music has been the center of my life since then. I felt joy every Saturday morning when I began my weekly lesson with Mrs. Jones and later that day when I played in our town's youth orchestra."

Or tell a very different sort of story:

"The policeman grabbed me by the arm and demanded I show him my ID. I had no idea what I had done wrong, and I didn't have my wallet with me. I was just riding my bike in San Diego. I didn't think it was a crime to ride on the sidewalk. This was my first experience of discrimination in the United States, where we moved from Algeria when I was 10 years old. It would be the first of many times that I would encounter."

What's the story about yourself that you need to tell?

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5 useful tips for writing your college admission essays

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College Writing Prompts: 7 Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

College Writing Prompts: 7 Hacks to Boost Your Productivity

Whether you’re working on your mid-term paper or just a regular essay, writing can be a difficult job. Creativity doesn’t always flow when it should and plenty of writers sit down with every good intention, only to find themselves an hour later having accomplished nothing aside from trolling around online, playing games or suddenly feeling the need to reorganize their entire office. Although writing can be a daunting task, these 7 college writing prompts will help you get your creative juices flowing and get you on track to producing better papers without sweating the deadline.

Go Old School

When you’re stuck with that blinking cursor on your screen, it may be time to switch back to old school pen and paper. Several studies suggest that writing by hands helps to boost comprehension and improves the ability of writers to develop ideas. Many authors – including the likes of Truman Capote and Susan Sontag – have gone on record with their preference for writing in longhand and science has found there’s a reason why. One study out of the University of Washington had two groups of elementary students write an essay. The group writing by hand completed their essays more quickly and used more complete sentences than their keyboard using counterparts. Additional studies have found that writing by hand can:

  • prevent writers from being distracted
  • improve the flow of ideas for outlining
  • actively engage more areas of the brain, including motor skills and memory
Break Free From the Internet

When it comes to potential distractions, the internet reigns supreme. While having the internet on hand for on the fly research can be useful, it also proves too tempting for many people who find themselves distracted by incoming emails, instant messages, news feed updates and other routine distractions. Even a simple mission to do pure research can easily lead to skipping from one article to another, then another, then another, resulting in information overload. The best way to cut the habit even if your willpower is the size of a gnat? Applications that prevent you from hopping online. The problem of internet based distractions is common and there are several applications that can come to your rescue.

Anti-Social – If you find yourself scrolling through FaceBook, YouTube, Hulu, Twitter or any other social based website, Anti-Social is the answer you’ve been looking for. The program blocks any set of websites you determine and keeps you from logging onto them for a set amount of time.

Stay Focused – This addon for Google’s Chrome browser offers users the same option – name the websites you want to have off limits and set a timer.

Self Control – This open source program was originally programmed only for Mac OS systems, but has since been coded for both Linux and Windows users. It can be used to block websites, email or to keep you off the internet completely.

The Three B’s of Creativity

German psychologist Wolfgang Köhler originally wrote about the “Bed, Bath, Bus” phenomena in terms of its relationship with creativity. Inspiration tends to strike at the most unlikely times, but understanding why this happens can help you set the stage to get those ideas flowing. Scientists, researchers and writers who should be finishing their work have come up with several reasons why inspiration tends to hit during the most impractical moments. First, these activities tend to require little, if any, actual brain power, leaving your mind free to wander. These activities also make us very relaxed which increases the release of dopamine in our brains and throughout our nervous system.

Dopamine is responsible for just about every happy emotion you can imagine – including creativity. While the 3 B’s have become the standard list for helping to boost creativity, the truth is that any mindless but relaxing task can produce the same effect. When you’re stumped on where to go with a piece of writing take a walk, do the dishes, go for a run or head to the store to do some grocery shopping. The trick is to be sure you keep a pen and paper on you or use the voice notes function on your smartphone to capture those ideas when they hit.

Write About What You REALLY Want to Write About

Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions, all you really want to write about is the time you got beer drunk at your cousin’s wedding and professed your undying love to the bartender. If your brain is stuck on a particular theme, scene or story, just get it out. Writing about whatever has your mind so preoccupied will help to clear the slate and get the ball rolling. Just because you write it doesn’t mean you have to show it to anyone and the process of simply getting it down on paper (or screen) can get your creative juices flowing as well as giving your brain a chance to stretch, so to speak.

Break Out the Right Music

The effects of music has become one of the more popular areas of research in recent years. This is due, in part, to how portable music has become. Many people now carry entire libraries of music with them and can, at any time, call up favorite albums or playlists with the simple swipe of a finger. Researchers have found that music has a direct impact on our brains and have broken it down to music that is over 60 beats per minute (BPM) and that which is under that threshold. As you might imagine, the higher the beat the more energizing the effects. High energy techno, dance music and hard rock all quicken the heart rate, breathing and can even increase blood pressure. Slower music produces a calming effect and can reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Mix up your favorite music to keep yourself going – keep up the beat, keep up the work!

Time Yourself

Tim management skills are sometimes seen as only useful for those in the corporate world but the truth is most people could do with some help when it comes to prioritizing and getting things done. There are a number of ways to go about this and one of the most popular is the Ten Minute Blitz. Simply set a timer for 10 minutes and focus on getting one task done. Ten minutes may not seem like much, but you’ll probably be surprised at just how much you can get accomplished. For more involved tasks, such as research or writing, many people prefer the Pomodoro Technique, which sets up time in 25 minute intervals, with a 5 to 10 rest period between cycles. The cycle is repeated four times in a row, with a longer break (15-30 minutes) after the fourth round of focused, 25 minute work. This can be done easily by using a kitchen timer or you can use applications such as Time Out to track how long you’ve worked and build in automatic reminders to take a break in order to keep your mind sharp and avoid burn out.

Burn that midnight oil. Getting up early is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the game and increase the chances of you getting into the flow of essay writing.

Why this college essay tips: Essay writing online

Why this college essay tips

why this college essay tips

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Ten Tips for Writing a 1337* UC Essay

In March 2016, the University of California released its new essay prompts:

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6. Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

8. What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

Applicants are asked to choose four of these and write an essay of up to 350 words for each. Want some advice?


TIP #1: Don’t simply write about some abstract quality you possess. Why? The essay will probably wander all over the place and it may turn out horrible.

TIP #2: Choose a specific experience that shows several awesome qualities you possess. Why? Because writing about a specific experience will help you focus the essay, plus it’ll be more interesting to the reader.

TIP #3: Consider writing about the extracurricular activity that you've spent the most time doing or that you care about most. Why? Like it or not, UC readers want to know what you've accomplished.

TIP #4: If you have to choose between a few activities, pick the one that’s the most impressive. Why? Like it or not, UC readers want to know what you've accomplished. Oh wait, I said that already. That must mean it’s important.

B. if writing on an extracurricular activity, first Make a bullet point list of your content

TIP #5: Jot down answers to these three questions:

1. What have you done? Literally, what were your actual tasks? How did you/have you spent your time?

2. What did you learn?

TIP #6: Save discussing this until almost the end of the essay.

3. How will you continue this work?

TIP #7: Discuss specifically who you’d like to help and how.

C. Decide on a structure.

TIP #10: Before you begin, look at other supplemental essays you're writing for other schools to see if there is another prompt you can also use this topic for and write your essay so that it answers BOTH prompts at the same time.

For example, one of the University of Texas essay prompts asks:

Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?

It’s possible to write an essay that answers both this prompt AND UC prompt #5 at the same time, since they're basically the same. But guess what? You could double this with almost ANY of the prompts above (look at UC prompt #7 for example) and write an essay that both describes a conflict in your life AND involved you making your community a better place. And you know what? Both essays will be better for it.

For a complete guide on How to Write the ApplyTexas Essays. click here.

D: Write a draft

That's right. Just begin.

Need some inspiration? Go here .

*1337 is old school hacker/internet slang for "Leet" or "Elite." The More You Know.