Presenters – Kimberly Janifer, NBCT IB English Teacher – Lindsey Reynolds English Teacher/AVID Coordinator
Overview & Objectives The essay is a component of the college application that can set one student apart from those they are otherwise very much alike. Writing this essay can be the most difficult part of a college application. It is important to identify strategies that will allow students to effectively compose and refine unique and memorable college essays.
Which essay starter do you find most effective? Why? from Collegeadmissionsstrategies.com When I was eleven, my great-aunt Gretchen passed away and left me something that changed my life: a library of about five thousand books. Some of my best days were spent arranging and reading her books. Since then, I have wanted to be a librarian. VS. I am honored to apply for the __________________ at the ____________________ because as long as I can remember I have had a love affair with books. Since I was eleven I have known I wanted to be a librarian.
Which opening paragraph is the most effective? Why? from Collegeadmissionsstrategies.com Why is (school) _______________ of particular interest to you? I believe ____________________ is an excellent match for me. I believe college should not be merely a gateway to the work force; it should educate the student in a variety of subjects and prepare him or her for the range of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in life. I have always been a curious person and enjoy reading all kinds of literature and nonfiction. In high school I excelled in history, English, AP Psychology, and other liberal arts subjects. I have not yet decided on a major, but when I do, it will almost certainly be in the liberal arts, such as history or political science. I know that ______________ is very strong in these areas. VS. When I visited the __________ campus last fall, I immediately felt at home. The gothic architecture and tree-shaded walks created an atmosphere of peaceful but serious reflection. The place is at once Southern—which, as an Alabamian, is important to me—and universal as it reflects the traditions of Europe and the classical world. _______________ liberal arts curriculum also reflects this unique pairing of the modern South and the global past. For example, I am considering a major in history, and am very interested in the combination of geographic and thematic areas of study offered by ____________history program.
Common Topics Unique background Experience with failure Challenging a belief Personal accomplishment Person of significant influence Topic of your choice
Tips & Techniques Do: Be yourself. Create tone appropriate for topic. Share something other than what is already on transcript. Go beyond the obvious. Focus on one subject and elaborate. Select topics that mean something to you. Pay attention to formatting and presentation.
Tips & Techniques Don’t: List various events/experiences. Brag about accomplishments. Write a sob story. Disregard requirements specific to each application. Submit an essay with spelling or grammatical errors. Share inappropriate topics.
Refining the Essay Have someone not invested read essay for genuine feedback. – Notice, manners, and appreciation! – Voice must remain yours! Be sure to stay within word counts.
Additional Resources Words that Win How to Refine