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 Brenda Ward, Retired Verona Area High School Counselor How to Conquer the Common Application and Write an Effective College Essay.

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Presentation on theme: " Brenda Ward, Retired Verona Area High School Counselor How to Conquer the Common Application and Write an Effective College Essay."— Presentation transcript:

1  Brenda Ward, Retired Verona Area High School Counselor How to Conquer the Common Application and Write an Effective College Essay

2 There is a difference! Will you use the Common Application or the Apply Wisconsin application?

3 So…What is the Common Application?  A standard application vehicle used by over 500 member colleges  Submitted electronically  For use with holistic admission processes

4 And Who Uses the Common Application?  Many highly selective universities and private colleges  Many public colleges and universities do not  UW-System schools DO NOT use the Common Application

5 Why Use the Common App?  Student completes once, sends to many  Recommenders & counselors submit once  “Dashboard” manages and tracks requirements and task completion

6 What Is Included in the Common App? Personal Data Educational Data Standardized Test Information* Family Information Academic Honors Extra-curricular activities (10 maximum) Work Experience Personal Essay (650 words) Application Fees Teacher Recommendations Secondary School Report (Counselor)* Supplemental Essays Arts Supplement *Transcripts are sent by counselor upon request by student; most colleges require test scores to be sent directly from testing agency

7 How to Submit to the Common App Common Application, including College- Specific Questions, Application Fees Submitted by Student* College-Specific Writing Supplement, Arts Supplement Sent Separately by Student Secondary School Report, Test Scores, Transcripts, Recommendations Submitted Separately

8 Help Is Available for Common App Users  The Common Application web site features a “Help Center” with tips and eLearning videosCommon Application  There’s also a facebook page…facebook  And the Common App tweets!Common App

9 Assigning Recommenders  Student submits addresses for recommenders  Student submits an address for high school counselor  Recommenders receive from the Common Application  Counselor receives an alert; counselor submits reports

10 Managing Applications and Requirements  My Colleges provides essential information and requirements for all of the colleges on the student’s list My Colleges  Dashboard monitors student progress toward completion of requirements for each college/university on the student’s list Dashboard

11 UW-Madison Recommendations “Recommendation letters “Recommendation letters are strongly recommended but are not required. It can be helpful in our admissions review to know more about you from the viewpoint of a counselor or teacher who can attest to your academic ability. Letters could also come from an employer, coach, research mentor, or community leader. Remember that quality is better than quantity and a total of two is sufficient.” (UW Madison web site)

12 The UW-System electronic application

13 Essay time! Take a deep breath, do a little yoga, maybe a few stretches to warm up because… It’s time to start writing!

14 Common App…That’s One Essay, Right? Not to exceed 650 words Not college-specific Formatting is limited Up to 3 revisions Yes, the new Common Application requires only one essay!

15 Warning! More Essays Ahead… Before we review the five Common Application essay prompts, be forewarned: Additional college-specific essays may also be required.

16 General Advice for the CA4 Essay 1. Be authentic 2. Be concrete 3. Be reflective 4. Be fresh 5. Be enterprising 6. Be careful

17 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. Prompt #1: Background Story Why is this being asked? Most open-ended, allows student to control topic and present what best defines him or her The strategy:  Consider what is central to your identity—your defining characteristic(s)  Tell a story and reflect on it  Think small--avoid long chronologies or timelines

18 Prompt #2: Experiencing Failure Why is this being asked? Failure is a universal experience; reaction to failure is unique The strategy:  An opportunity to show confidence  It’s a story—you are the protagonist  Describe your evolving reaction to failure…What was the lesson or take-away? Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

19 Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Prompt #3: Challenge a Belief Why is this being asked? Challenging accepted ideas is often a bigger part of college than it is in high school The strategy:  Disucuss the belief/idea you challenged  Cite what prompted you to act  Reflect on whether you would make the same decision again  Beware: Arrogance!

20 Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? Prompt #4: Place or Environment Why is this being asked? Shows how the student reacts in an optimal external world The strategy:  Consider context. This is your “zone” environment  Place yourself interacting with the environment  Make the place or environment yours—attach meaning

21 Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. Prompt #5: Transition from Childhood Why is this being asked? Colleges value cultural, geographic, and family diversity and are interested in personal values The strategy:  Consider small, symbolic events or accomplishments as well as more formal ones  Link to a shared value of the larger group  Reflect on your acceptance of the transition/values

22 What is UW-Madison looking for? We focus first on academic excellence— courses, grades, and test scores. Beyond academics, we look for qualities such as leadership, concern for others and the community, and achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas. We’re also seeking diversity in personal background and experience and your potential for contribution to the Wisconsin community.. Our admission counselors review each application individually and are looking for students who demonstrate strong academic ability, as well as leadership, community service, creativity, talent, and enthusiasm. We also consider personal characteristics that will contribute to the strength and diversity of our university.

23 UW-Madison personal statement  1. Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it's important to you. 2. Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, share with us the academic, extracurricular, or research opportunities you would take advantage of as a student. If applicable, provide details of any circumstance that could have had an impact on your academic performance and/or extracurricular involvement.

24 UW-System college-specific statements  UW-Eau Claire: Please tell us about the particular life experiences, perspectives, talents, commitments and/or interests you will bring to our campus.  UW-LaCrosse: Please tell us about the particular life experiences, talents, commitments and/or interests you will bring specifically to our campus that will enrich our community, and why you are interested in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Whitewater: Please tell us about the particular life experiences, talents, commitments and/or interests you will bring specifically to our campus that will enrich our community.  UW-Green Bay: Please tell us why you think you are a good fit for UW- Green Bay, and why UW-Green Bay is a good fit for you. You may include personal skills, traits, talents, interests, and experiences that will enrich our campus, as well as aspects of UW-Green Bay that are especially important to you. Please tell us if there are special circumstances or personal challenges that have had an impact on your previous academic record, and that you would like us to take into consideration as we evaluate your admission application. What have you learned from your experience, and how will it influence you as you pursue your college education?

25 But what about the CA Supplemental Essays?  Some may not require supplements  Some will have short answer questions  Some will have both short answer questions and another longer essay (500 words or so)

26 Some Short Answer Prompts Lake Forest How would you describe yourself in a 140-letters-or-less Twitter Tweet or Facebook Status Update? Princeton Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words) UNC-Chapel Hill 1.My theme song: 2.Best thing since sliced bread: 3.Super power I’d most like to have: Rice In keeping with Rice's long-standing tradition (known as "The Box"), please upload an image of something that appeals to you.

27 Longer Supplemental Essay Prompts Many colleges will ask for an additional, longer essay (about 500 words) These prompts often have common themes or purposes

28 Common Prompt Type: More About You Yale: In this essay, please reflect on something you would like us to know about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application, or on something about which you would like to say more. Beloit: What should the Admissions Committee look for in you, beyond your transcript and scores?

29 Common Prompt Type: What about Us? Northwestern What are the unique qualities of Northwestern - and of the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying - that make you want to attend the University? Michigan Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

30 Prompts Inspired by College Culture Boston College St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, encouraged his followers to live their lives in the service of others. How do you plan to serve others in your future endeavors? University of Virginia The Honor Code at U.Va. states that students will not lie, cheat, or steal. This strengthens our Community of Trust. What would you add to the Honor Code and why? Colorado College The Block Plan at Colorado College has a tradition of innovation and flexibility. Please design your own three-and-a-half week intellectual adventure and describe what you would do.

31 University of Chicago The mantis shrimp can perceive both polarized light and multispectral images; they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human eyes have color receptors for three colors (red, green, and blue); the mantis shrimp has receptors for sixteen types of color, enabling them to see a spectrum far beyond the capacity of the human brain. Seriously, how cool is the mantis shrimp: mantisshrimp.uchicago.edu What might they be able to see that we cannot? What are we missing? Prompt Type: Quirky UNC-Chapel Hill What do you hope to find over the rainbow? Lawrence University Why Lawrence? It's a short question seeking a short answer: 47 well-chosen words - give or take a few - should work.

32 This Is What Colleges Want to Know Colleges want to know more about you Colleges want to know how much you know about them Colleges want you to strut your stuff— show them how you think, create, investigate, learn, lead, reform, or perform

33 Wisdom from A 17-Year-Old Blogger …Remember that you're a person, and that I'm a different person, and that the answer lies only with you. And, yes, I do realize that that makes the process hard, and complicated, and maybe even annoying. But it also makes it interesting. - Danny Licht, "What Is the Best College in America?”What Is the Best College in America?

34 Good luck on your applications! Brenda Ward, Independent Educational Consultant Individual Guidance for College & Career Success


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