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How to Make Your Common Application a Lot Less Common A Step-by-Step Guide to the Written Sections of the Common Application.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Make Your Common Application a Lot Less Common A Step-by-Step Guide to the Written Sections of the Common Application."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Make Your Common Application a Lot Less Common A Step-by-Step Guide to the Written Sections of the Common Application

2 Do My Application Essays Even Matter? Decisions are all about GPA and SAT results….the application essays are meaningless. Application essays are make or break…

3 The Read Process…

4

5 The Committee System Admission Officer Advocates for Competitive Applicants Officer Will PULL Relevant Information from the Application Officer Will Often Read or Pull Quotes from the Applicants Essays Final Vote

6 Do My Answers Matter….. Context to an Applicants Report Card Provide the Reader with another Tool to Measure the Intelligence and Vitality of the Applicant Can Give Context to the Applicants Life Can Give Insight into the Applicants Choices Can Push an Application toward the Admit (or Deny) Pool The Common Application is the only chance the applicant has to – for better or worse – support his/her cause

7 The Common Application Lets review that Common Application and get a feel for the writing requirements.

8 List principal activities in their order of importance to you! Start with the activity that you could never imagine your high school career without and work your way down from there.

9 Details and Accomplishments

10 What About Hobbies?

11 The Short Essay

12 Lets Re-Phrase the Prompt Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below (1000 character maximum). My advice is that you treat that question as if it actually reads: Please tell us something interesting, unusual or personally meaningful & compelling preferably something we dont already knowabout one of the activities youve listed.

13 Common Mistakes Re-telling your history of involvement in the activity Re-telling the history of the activity Too many words/Characters Clichéd revelation Dull opening Flat Language

14 From the Admission Office… What you want to avoid is spending 1000 characters (somewhere from words typically) describing that football is hard, or how volunteering at one blood drive was rewarding, or that being the president of the student body proves you have good leadership skills. Admissions officers know that football is hard. And nobody will be surprised that community service feels good when you help others, or that being on the student government involves leadership skills…

15 Short Essay: Structure Opening Quick & Short! Introduce the Activity! Narrative Bright Language Personal Truth Compelling Interesting Meaningful

16 The Importance of Opening Lines… Entering the stage with the flair of a diva, I imagined myself under the lights of Broadway before delivering a soulful rendition of Gloria Gaynors I Will Survive… Soaking in the sight of the turquoise, scintillating water, I stand on the edge of the pool, ready to dive in. I was perched on Einsteins arm when it hit me. Playing doubles tennis is my most meaningful activity.

17 Evaluate… My path to the football field began in middle school when I signed up to play on the local flag football team. I was small in middle school so I played wide receiver, but in high school I grew and now play linebacker. I have been in the Varsity Football team for three years and was named Captain in September. As Captain I lead the summer workout program and coordinate the weightlifting sessions after practice. After all my years playing football I can say that the sport is hard an violent, but I have loved every minute of it. The bonds I feel for my teammates are like a brotherhood and the friendships I have made are irreplaceable.

18 Well…. Did the opening grab you? Dynamic, mature and exciting word choice? Was the revelation about the activity interesting or unusual? Did you learn something new about the applicant, something you would not have learned from the activities section? Cliché?

19 My Assessment….Opportunity Lost My path to the football field began in middle school when I signed up to play on the local flag football team. I was small in middle school so I played wide receiver, but in high school I grew and now play linebacker. (Nothing dynamic here) I have been on the Varsity Football team for three years and was named Captain in September. As Captain I lead the summer workout program and coordinate the weightlifting sessions after practice. (In the Activities Section - rehashed) After all my years playing football I can say that the sport is hard an violent, but I have loved every minute of it. The bonds I feel for my teammates are like a brotherhood and the friendships I have made are irreplaceable. (Cliché, no surprise, no interesting revelation)

20 How About ….Bike Ive spent much of my life on two wheels. There are the lung- busing, leg burning bike rides where I revel in pushing myself to my limit. There are the week long tours where I relish the change of pace from my everyday existence and explore my world, reliant on nothing but my own two legs. But the rides that best capture the meaning of biking for me are on a much more mundane scale – to school, friends houses, errands around town. Now that California has armed me with a drivers license I could drive instead. But as long as the emissions from my cars tailpipe speed up the melting of the ice caps, Id rather ride. I truly believe that the personal is political; I may not yet qualify to vote for my values on a ballot, but I can vote with my two wheels. Besides, there is nothing quite like the rush of a bike ride to put a smile on my face.

21 My Assessment…Bike Ive spent much of my life on two wheels. (Wonderful, unique opening) There are the lung-busing, leg burning bike rides where I revel in pushing myself to my limit. There are the week long tours where I relish the change of pace from my everyday existence and explore my world, reliant on nothing but my own two legs. But the rides that best capture the meaning of biking for me are on a much more mundane scale – to school, friends houses, errands around town. (Strong, colorful narrative) Now that California has armed me with a drivers license I could drive instead. But as long as the emissions from my cars tailpipe speed up the melting of the ice caps, Id rather ride. I truly believe that the personal is political; I may not yet qualify to vote for my values on a ballot, but I can vote with my two wheels. Besides, there is nothing quite like the rush of a bike ride to put a smile on my face. (WOW…mature, honest, clear revelation…)

22 Classical Piano… Classical Piano is like Quentin Tarantinos Pai Mei: a small Chinese Slave-master. But, the most triumphant reward has not been the steely discipline, cleaning humility, or fierce determination – empowering as those lessons have been. A Chopin nocturne requires a wealth of knowledge about the Polish revolution and French technique, but more importantly, it fosters the ability and passion to challenge conventional readings and in a greater sense, break the bindings of society. And that ability to think outside the box, paint the box polka dotted pink, pick it up and throw it away is an incredible gift.

23 Classical Piano – Assessment Classical Piano is like Quentin Tarantinos Pai Mei: a small Chinese Slave-master. (Incredible Opening) But, the most triumphant reward has not been the steely discipline, cleaning humility, or fierce determination – empowering as those lessons have been. (Acknowledge the Cliché) A Chopin nocturne requires a wealth of knowledge about the Polish revolution and French technique, but more importantly, it fosters the ability and passion to challenge conventional readings and in a greater sense, break the bindings of society. And that ability to think outside the box, paint the box polka dotted pink, pick it up and throw it away is an incredible gift. (Revelation is inspiring & mature)

24 SPARK… Winston Churchill once said, You have enemies? Good. That means youve stood up for something, sometime in your life. A year ago, I would have disagreed, at least, until a documentary called Miss Representation walked into my life. Since then Ive spoken out about the hypersexualization of women by the media, the reality of the gender gap in science, the necessity of equal pay for equal work, topics that have earned me both friends and foes. Being a feminist activist isnt easy; Im constantly fighting flippant Thats just the way it is, comments with factual insistency. Im lucky to have found SPARK, a group of teenage activists who campaign against sexism. After successfully petitioning Seventeen to stop photoshopping, were now challenging Teen Vogue to cater to more than one race or body type. My voice is out there, be it on the internet or in an interview on the radio. As an agent of change, Im a firm believer in the impact of taking a stand.

25 Short Essay Writing Steps - READ! LIST ALL POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES YOU CAN WRITE ABOUT THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A SCHOOL ACTIVITY – BUT IT SHOULD BE A RECENT ACTIVITY, SOMETHING YOU WERE COMMITTED TO IN HIGH SCHOOL ASK – WHAT WAS INTERESTING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? WHAT COMPELLED ME TO DO THIS ACTIVITY? WHAT WILL I REMEMBER ABOUT IT YEARS FROM NOW? WHAT WAS MEANINGFUL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? WORK ON OPENINGS! WRITE NUMEROUS SAMPLES..

26 The Personal Statement

27 New Set of Prompts… Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

28 Choosing Your Essay Topic Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate button below. There is no strategy to picking one topic over another. Simply find your best story and apply it to whichever prompt fits best. Its almost always the first Tell Us Your Story prompt. Sounds easy right….

29 Re-Phrase the Prompt You story can serve as a metaphor for a larger truth revealed Your story can serve as a teaching tool, helping you solve an important dilemma Perhaps your story helps reveal something about your unique upbringing ?

30 Tips from the Admission Office Focused on Belief or Insight About Life that is significant to the writer Development is based upon the writers personal experiences Can Be Informal in tone, language and subject matter Your essay leads the reader to someplace a bit personal…you reveal something about yourself, your philosophy

31 Tip…Reveal Something an Adult can Relate to! Common Sense rules the day! The truth you choose to reveal at the end of the essay should be something I understand and can relate to. Not something that makes me question your maturity, intelligence or, for lack of a better word, likability.

32 Structure of the Personal Essay Opening Grab the Reader Connect to the end of the essay Narrative Interesting Golden Details Forward Movement Dialogue Personal Truth Reveled Share Something Cliché

33 What Do You Believe or Understand about yourself? About the World? I am not paid to think! Teachers tell me what to think

34 Love conquers all… Killing is wrong… Life in high school lacks clarity…

35 The Point… Students DO have a rich set of beliefs, opinions and insights. It is just that – well – school stopped rewarding personal reflection long ago! Perhaps a few questions, prompts or exercises will help you re-discover your reflective and insightful nature! I do think the Common Application is a pain in the …

36 Exercise… Find a quote reflecting the beliefs of both famous and not so famous individuals. See if you can make a text-to-self connection based upon your own life experiences. Large groups of girls scare the crap out of me… The greatest problems in life are all insoluble. They can never be solved, only outgrown.

37 How you act in a crisis shows who you really are… Money CAN buy happiness… If you smile long enough, you become happy…

38 Or…Write a reply to these simple prompts What is one thing you have learned about life? What is one thing you have learned about love? What is one thing you understand about food? What have you learned about parenting? Ive learned that I am always trying to lean, I just do not always like what is being taught… So, what is in a name? For some, a long history of family tradition. But for my mother and I, a shared realization that there would be some things I will have to figure out for myself in Pittsburg.

39 Show Me the Money… Once a student has discovered a belief that feel strongly about (or, if belief is too strong, a realization may be a nice substitute) then work backwards! Tell a story that either shows the belief in action or explains why the storyteller believes what (s)he does. Show me the money!

40 How Do I Make My Writing More Real & Believable? OWN YOUR STORY! Think About Specificity The Value of Personal Observation! Details – Golden, Useful, Clichés Example: Describe Your Parents Old Van… 1. animal crackers stuffed between seat cushions 2. the odor of McDonalds kids meals 3. doors dented by foul balls Just read Minnow…

41 From the Admission Office… Great stories are equal opportunity employers. They belong to the A, B, C and even D student. The issue is one of time – the student who takes the time to explore and reflect and has the courage to share in an honest, even personal way, can write a great application essay.

42 Getting Off To A Great Start… Opening Write the lead last! Narrative Story behind the realization Personal Truth Believe Understand Realize Personal Truth

43 Openings for the Personal Statement The opening for the Personal Statement will be a bit different. It should still grab the reader, but usually introduces themes that will be touched upon again in the revelation/realization portion of the essay. I am actually understanding this…Scary

44 Opening Hooks that Work Question Quotation Strong Statement Metaphor Description

45 I didnt really have a name until my first day of elementary school Comet Hale- Bopp came and went too fast I am a gambler… Literature child rock bottom is my name directly translated into English When was the last time you went without a meal?

46 The Test … Did the opening grab you? Dynamic, mature and exciting word choice? Is the lead something you might be able to refer back to in the realization/personal truth section of the essay?

47 Personal Essay Writing Steps - READ LIST ALL POSSIBLE PERSONAL TRUTHS YOU CAN THINK OF (OR BORROW SOME FROM OTHERS!) THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! IS THIS PERSONAL TRUTH SOMETHING THE READER WILL RELATE TO? UNDERSTAND? RESPECT? SHOW ME THE MONEY! HOW DID YOU MAKE THIS REALIZATION? WHAT WAS MEANINGFUL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? USE LIVELY LANGUAGE! WORK ON OPENINGS! WRITE NUMEROUS SAMPLES..

48 Thematic Red Flags… Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll Adversities that are not all that adverse Foolish Risks Leave the Sand and Surf at Home Political References can be Tricky….

49 A Good Test…. Is the theme or story something I would share only with my best friend (too personal) Is the theme or story likely to offend someone from a different socio-economic or ethnic background? (too edgy) Is the theme or story something found on Fox Channel? (too political) Is the theme or story something I would feel comfortable sharing with my favorite teacher? (Might be just right..)

50 Questions/Discussion Thank you!


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