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The College Essay A few tips to get you started ….

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1 The College Essay A few tips to get you started …

2 What do colleges want in an essay? To evaluate you: – Academically – Socially – Whether you are a “fit” Some colleges may have supplements to help with this

3 What are colleges considering? The typical college receives more than 10 times the number of applications for the spaces they have. This is the part of the application you have control over and is a chance to distinguish yourself. – You choose the topic. – You choose what is important for the admission officers to know about.

4 How do colleges evaluate the essay? Quantitatively (How you write.) – Grammar – Style – Structure Qualitatively (What did we learn about you?) – Personality – Passion(s) outside of class – Intellectual curiosities

5 Keep in mind… A great (or not so great) essay is just one part of the holistic admission process. So, what else do we look at? – Rigor of your curriculum – Extracurricular activities – Letters of recommendation – Supplements (if optional or required) – Interviews, campus visits, demonstrated interest

6 Where else on the Common App will colleges evaluate my writing? The entire application! You want to be sure to proofread each section of the Common Application as you work on it. Especially the following sections…

7 Where else will colleges evaluate writing? Short Answer section of Common Application

8 Where else will colleges evaluate writing? List of extracurricular activities & work

9 Where else will colleges evaluate writing? Special circumstances or disciplinary history supplement

10 Where else will colleges evaluate writing? Their supplements to the Common Application Choose a book you have read—at any point in your life—that most affected you and clarify its effect Identify and describe a personal habit or idiosyncrasy—of any nature—that helps define you. Why us? Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, “Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it.” Give us your guess. How does scientific exploration excite and inspire you? In a page, more or less, what is it about math, science or engineering that compels you to satisfy your intellectual curiosity? Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor and creative pranks. Please describe an unusual way in which you have fun.

11 Proofread!!! Be sure at least one other person reads your essay before you submit it. Don’t rely on Spell Check alone. While it is useful, it can miss typos and big mistakes! Use complete sentences in essay and short answer replies.

12 What are the Common Application essay questions/prompts? The essay will be words on one of six topics.

13 What are the Common Application essay topics/prompts? 1) Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. 2) Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. 3) Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

14 What are the Common Application essay questions/prompts? 4) Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work that has had an influence on you and explain that influence. 5) Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. 6) Topic of your choice.

15 Which essay prompt should I choose? Which option tells the admission office something found no where else in your application? Try not to be one dimensional.

16 What are the most common topics? Mom/Dad Teacher Family member Sports injury School trip Major event in life

17 Do I avoid common topics? Common topics are common because many people have lots to say about them… which doesn’t make them bad to choose… you just want to be authentic and share the story in a personal way. If you do have an uncommon idea, that’s great, too!

18 Common Essay Mistakes Avoid slang profanity, text/chat talk. Think about your readers… the people reading your application are all different ages ad from different backgrounds, etc. Topic/tone of writing is too young/immature We learned nothing about you in the essay. Coming across as being judgmental Straying off topic Having a strong beginning, but running out of steam at the end.

19 Reminders Be sure to answer all parts of the question/prompt you choose. Structurally, an essay should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Spell Check is not the same as proofreading. Use a friendly font. We read hundreds/thousands of essays! Brainstorm well before writing.


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