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Writing the College Essay Edited By: Teri Manderino Date: May 27, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing the College Essay Edited By: Teri Manderino Date: May 27, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing the College Essay Edited By: Teri Manderino Date: May 27, 2014

2 Food for thought Students have powerful stories to tell, and these stories are an often unexplored asset in the college admissions process. Taking control of your life story is an empowering experience. It is critical for students to write a story that is meaningful and true rather than a story that they believe will please a college admissions counselor.

3 Think about it! Writing a successful college essay requires revision and editing, with ample time for reflection and feedback.

4 Who is CARR? Chicago Area Regional Representatives is a professional organization for salaried admission professionals based in the Chicago area. Membership is comprised of both in-state and out-of-state institutions who have dedicated the necessary resources to operate residence-based offices to better assist students and secondary professionals. CARR members work with students and counselors in Illinois, and in some instances other Midwestern states. All CARR members pay annual membership dues and represent institutions that are IACAC and/or NACAC members.

5 Sample Essay Topics Topic A Write an essay in which you tell us about someone who has made an impact on your life and explain how and why this person is important to you. Topic B Choose an issue of importance to you – the issue could be personal, school-related, local, political or international in scope – and write an essay in which you explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation.

6 The Common Application Accepted by almost 600 universities. Information can be saved and copied to fill out multiple applications. Website includes supplement forms as well.

7 The Common Application The Common Application requires students write essays from five possible topics. 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.

8 Tips for writing college essays When writing, follow a two-part process. Spend time figuring out what you want to say. Once you have brainstormed and written down all your ideas, then begin to polish and improve your story. Remember that shorter is usually better. Reduce your story to its essence, like a polished stone. Be yourself. Do not write for a college admissions counselor. Do not necessarily focus on your accomplishments, but instead tell something meaningful about yourself that only you know.

9 Tips for Writing College Essays Tell a story. Write as you see and hear, as if you are writing scenes in a movie. Follow a simple structure, such as beginning with a scene, explaining your scene, offering some kind of revelation or a climax, and ending with some sort of summary scene. Don’t be afraid to be different, both in terms of content and form. It is OK to write a poem, a letter, or write in story mode as long as your piece addresses the question.

10 Tips for Writing College Essays Be specific and short. Keep your pieces between 250 and 650 words. Find a good listener and a good editor. They can be the same person, but it is not the same job. Read your story aloud and ask your listener to tell you what she likes, what she wants more of, what she would get rid of. When your piece is finished, find someone who can read your written work and help you with word choice, organization and proofreading.

11 Tips for Revision Print out what you have written. Making the type larger and double spacing often forces you to read more slowly. Read out loud or have a partner read your piece to you. Do not necessarily read the piece from top to bottom. Sometimes it helps to separate your piece into chunks and read each of them independently. If they don’t stand alone, get rid of them. Or, start in the middle.

12 Tips for Revision Study your piece for your best moments, and consider whether you can do more to put the reader in those moments. Conversely, look for everything that does not move your piece along and omit it. Does your piece impart a sense of who you are and what you believe? (Truth matters more than whether others will like you, agree with you, or be impressed by you.)

13 Tips for Revision Look at your lead. Does your lead grab, and does it relate to the larger arc of your story? Is there a stronger point in your piece that really should be your beginning? Look at your conclusion. Does it tie back to the remainder of your piece, or advance the story in some significant way?

14 Tips for Revision Does your story flow? Study your details and description. Detail makes writing stand out, and the best details are the ones that are true and specific. Write to tell others what only you know. Show, don’t tell.

15 Tips for Revision Consider your choice of words. Have you chosen the most appropriate adjectives? If you are describing a character, consider whether you can say more about that person by showing something they did, or sharing a bit of dialogue. Avoid physical description unless it says something about the person’s character. Identify your adverbs (usually ending in – ly). Consider whether you can replace them with a stronger verb.

16 Recap  Investigate whether other colleges have similar requirements, due dates and essay topics. Also look for scholarships, and consider whether you can adapt some of your essays to use for both purposes.  Begin thinking about and drafting two essays for multiple uses.

17 Recap  Find a family member, friend or teacher who can help you by listening to your essay drafts and helping you edit and polish them.  Make a list of everything else that is required and the due dates.  Have fun with your writing. Be yourself.

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