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College Admissions Essay Basics

By 6. Mai 2020 No Comments

hello everyone Alexa done here and today I am going to be going over college admissions essay basics for those of you who don’t know in addition to being an author and working in marketing I am also a freelance college essay advisor I love working on college essays I have been doing pro bono work for years as well with underprivileged students in Los Angeles and I’m very proud to help students put themselves on a page and that is essentially what your college admissions essay is and what it’s for it’s to give admissions a view into who you are as a person and also particularly the slice of you as a person like the aspect of you that they’re not necessarily seeing from the rest of your application because of course they’re going to have your transcripts and a list of your activities and you’ll have like short things that you write about kind of the hobbies and you know things that you’re passionate about but there’s so much that gets missed in the rest of the application because it really focuses on your academic life in your school life so your personal essay is the space where you can show them an aspect of yourself that you really want them to know now that can be giving them a view to an interest or a passion that you know just isn’t apparent from looking at you like maybe you passionately maude video games and like your mod is the most downloaded mod in the seam app for the game I don’t know I just pulled that out of my head I I dream of one day finding a kid who does do that because I think that would make a really cool admissions essay or you know it could be the vital relationship with your mom one of my favorite examples actually comes from college essay advisors they shared this with me um the squirrel she just wrote about driving to school with her mom being in the car with her mom and kind of they she used it as a frame device for like showing snapshots of different moments in her life and it was all about kind of growing up and you know driving herself and her relationship with her mother and it was a tear jerker apparently I love stuff like that where you find an unusual way to share something about yourself your essay can also be the place to essentially give them an a sense of your personality if you’re funny it’s writing a funny essay if you’re just a thoughtful and caring person it’s putting that in an essay if you’re kind of a weird you know thinker you think outside the box there are ways to get that across in an essay you can really tell any story and write about anything in your college essay you’re probably familiar with the common app prompts now the cheat for many many years was prompt number one which is the the background or an interests that you know you absolutely must tell admissions and that was kind of the catch-all prompt that you could use to cover your bases on anything you wanted to write about but now they’ve actually added a prompt that is literally choose your own prompt so you can write about anything you want in your common app essay now it’s gonna be 650 words which sounds like a lot except it’s really not 650 words is not a lot of words it’s enough to tell a pretty good story but the key with your essay is to make smart choices about what you say and how you say it pack as much as you can into the 650 words without being a rambling incoherent mess I know that this is easier said than done but there are tips and tricks for achieving that balance now picking what you actually are going to write about is really hard I’m not gonna pretend that it’s not we’re gonna have to do a lot of brainstorming to figure out what you want to write and I’m gonna have a whole video about brainstorming tips and techniques one thing I will tell you up front your essay should reflect positively on you as a person and I know that sounds incredibly obvious and self-explanatory but you’d be surprised how many essays I’ve read that reflected really really poorly on the writer often they didn’t even realize it you know I had to like give them feedback and coaching saying well when you you this example or you say this thing you come across as really arrogant or don’t write about your girlfriend cheating on you like don’t write about cheating yourself like there’s a proud that I hate on the common app it’s the failure prompt and I load that prompt because the prompt is a lie they don’t actually want you to write about failure they do but they want you to write about how you interpret failure and turn it into success it’s actually meant to be a positive essay about your character and you know how you troubleshoot things but so many students misinterpreted as whining about something that didn’t go their way or that happen to them or that they did wrong and a lesson they learned and so the failure prompt is a lie you always want to focus on the positive in your essay now I advise for brainstorming to basically throw spaghetti against the wall you want to try a lot of different ideas before you pick your topic a topic might seem like super obvious do you like oh well obviously I have to write about winning the debate to competition just pull that out of my hair but you might have something far more interesting to say that when you actually sit down to write different things the words will flow better with one idea than another or you’ll give a couple of different options to someone that you know or even though you don’t know and they’ll pick the one that you’re surprised by because it’s always a balance of entertainment you do want to entertain your reader you also want to be unique enough that you’re not gonna disappear into the crowd so there are just certain topics that are very cliche that you don’t want to write about so I encourage you to come up with lots of ideas try writing different approaches try writing different introductions to various essay ideas and then go with the one that feels the most natural now don’t worry about the word count when you are actually drafting that is your enemy because often when focusing you know meticulously on its 650 words I found that students really they miss the good stuff they write what they think admissions wants to hear and they cry into that 650 words but when I work with them to write more I’ll say like literally vomit words on to the page like you wanted to stream-of-consciousness drafting often with your first draft I will find nuggets in there that never would have made it when they were adhering to the 650 word count and often it’s those nuggets that make the essay special so when you’re doing your first draft just seriously like think about your topic and weird vomit on to the page and then you can always edit later to make it fit your word count timing please start writing your essay early now I realize I’m posting this in September I probably should have done this video much earlier in the summer cuz in my last video if you did watch it about preparing yourself for the college admissions process I advised that you start in either the spring of your junior year or early in that summer between junior and senior year but if you are watching it now in September you are not too late most apps private school apps are going to be due in December and January though if you are doing early action or early decision your applications are going to be due are sooner so start writing your essay but generally starting early it takes the pressure off you it gives you the opportunity to try different things and have things not work and start over and refine ideas and find people to read them and work around their busy schedules it’s just it’s going to help you out I’d say 90% of the time the student procrastinate and writes their essay at the last minute you can tell it is sloppy and I’ve read plenty of them guys trust me I know what I’m talking about it is a rare unicorn student and it’s usually a naturally gifted writer and storyteller and most people do not fall into that category who can pull an essay out of their ass at the last minute and get into Harvard it’s just rare and everyone thinks that they are the Unicorn and they are the exception but most people are not so please start early and put in the work I’m briefly mentioned it before which is getting other people to read your essay this is a really essential part of the process you need to get feedback and not just from your parents your best friend or even from your English teacher there are pros and cons to having people who know you read your essay obviously they know you and they know you well so they can tell you if they feel that it reflects on you know who you are as a person but someone who is too close to you can actually really hinder the essay writing process I have found most often that parents hinder more than they help they have very specific ideas about who you are as their child and of course they love you and they think you are the most amazing human on the planet because they’re your parents and that’s their job hold that dear to your heart but it’s not going to help you with your college essay so much often – you might want to write about something that’s really true to who you are as a person but your parents don’t like that aspect of you or they think it’s embarrassing or it’s something you don’t want them to know it also sometimes don’t don’t let your parents read your essay and if they’re pushy you can write a decoy essay that’s that’s like a super secret tip for me don’t don’t tell your parents I said that but also same thing with friends friends who are your exact same age especially they are not writing professionals they’re the same age as you they are equally as immature in terms of writing and perspective and also in many cases they’re also applying to college and you should always be wary when sharing your college essay with other people always also applying to college I’m not saying people steal essays but some people still essays so always watch your back English teachers English teachers are amazing creatures and I love them dearly I had English teachers who changed my life but I’d say more than half of English teachers are not qualified to help with college essays college essays are essentially personal memoir they are stories they are journalism basically and they defy the standards of writing and the academic essay or an analytical essay and English teachers teach us a form it’s what they do and often when you give your college essay to an English teacher they’re gonna tell you you need a thesis and like the three-point essay and those are boring guys they’re boring they’re not good personal memoirs and so often an English teacher can actually steer you in the wrong direction I’ve also found that often teachers parents too who are not well versed in personal memoir will like rewrite your sentences and like do all sorts of things erasing your voice and maintaining your voice having a voice in a style that is unique to you but still grammatically sound guys like you still turn complete and proper sentences but that is another aspect of communicating to admissions who you are and you don’t want to have someone erase that part of your essay which brings me to sharing your essay with strangers I do actually advise you do this but you of course should be very very careful places you can go to find readers for your essay include reddit there is a subreddit applying to college there’s also college confidential which is kind of a jungle and I be careful on college confidential kids it’ll ruin you but there are some very good essay readers on there who adults who are willing to read your essay I mean I read essays on college confidential so you never know I I could read your essay um I do we don’t read it as well though since I have more private clients I do have less time to help kids on the internet but if you find someone who’s qualified they can do wonders for your essay they don’t know you so they’re going to ask you questions if something isn’t clear if something doesn’t reflect nicely on you they hopefully nicely tell you things like I don’t know if you’re coming across well here or I don’t understand this or this topic is a bit cliche like you’re gonna hear an honest and hopefully hopeful opinion from someone who doesn’t know you at all or very well this of course is not foolproof because some people on the Internet are dumbasses and don’t know what the heck they’re talking about but if you’re smart about who you ask and also never take one person’s opinion as gospel you should do pretty well in terms of working on your essay never submit a first draft you always want to do revisions and editing on your piece and this brings up an interesting question especially because I am a freelance college essay advisor I work for a private company and I do get paid to help students with their essays do you need to hire a professional and I’m gonna be completely honest with you I’d say 95% of the time the answer is no you really don’t need to pay a professional to help you with your essay I only advise this for students who a have the money like I would never advise a student whose parents don’t have the money to pay for help with their essays I think it’s I don’t I don’t like hosing people I think it’s tacky and I do see pushy private essay consultants pushing themselves on reddit or college confidential and I don’t like it but too many students simply don’t need a professional to help them you can do pretty well if you take my tips if you brainstorm if you you know try different topics if you start early and take your time drafting and get lots of ideas on the page and find people to help you for free to look at your essay you’ll be fine private essay consulting is best for students who a have the money but be really struggle to write essays about themselves and writing essays about yourself of course is not easy a professional is there to provide a lot of support and guidance and simply everyone doesn’t need that so yeah I am NOT one of those professionals who’s going to lie to you to try to get you to pay me money because frankly I have more clients than I can handle know if you’re interested in hearing more about who might need a private essay consultant versus a free one and best practices for working with someone else on your essay whether you’re paying them or not let me know down in the comments I’d be happy to do a whole video on that topic so that is your college admissions essay in a nutshell it’s you on a page to give admissions a view of yourself they’re not otherwise getting on your application you want to make them like you you want it to be positive and reflect well on you and also reflect fit for that specific University if you can its 650 words you can basically write about anything and rich or actively make one of the common app essay prompts work for the essay start early get opinions revised well and don’t procrastinate and do it last minute so I hope this was helpful I’m hoping to do a lot more videos on college admissions I apologize for not doing them over the summer books ate my brain if you like this please give it a thumbs up so I know that you you don’t want to see more videos like it leave any questions down in the comments and subscribe if you’re interested in seeing more thanks so much for watching and good luck with applications