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College Essays Do’s and Don’ts Peterson’s Best College Admission Essays by Mark Alan Stewart & Cynthia C. Muchnick.

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Presentation on theme: "College Essays Do’s and Don’ts Peterson’s Best College Admission Essays by Mark Alan Stewart & Cynthia C. Muchnick."— Presentation transcript:

1 College Essays Do’s and Don’ts Peterson’s Best College Admission Essays by Mark Alan Stewart & Cynthia C. Muchnick

2 Personal Relationships and Influences DO Favorite Teacher Coach Arch-Rival Struggling Student at School Neighbor Distant Relative DON’T Immediate Family Best Friend Dog/Cat

3 Issues DO Individual Rights Consumerism Fairness/Justice Free Trade Internet Issues (privacy, alienation, education) DON’T Environment World Peace Prejudice/Discrimination Drugs Crime

4 Significant Events DO Ordinary field trip turned unexpected adventure Song, Poem, Novel that made a deep impact Unexpected gift from unexpected source An informal social situation that you replay over and over Teachers or authority figures let their guard down DON’T College Admission Process Big Trip to Faraway Place Wilderness Survival Winning/Losing a Game How Hard Work Pays Off Most unforgettable experience

5 Personal Qualities DO Those little habits that sometimes annoy others A time you put your foot in your mouth An attachment to a personal possession Study habits you would like to change Your unusual awkwardness in social situations DON’T List of your favorite things Your determination and tenacity Your diversity

6 Theme and Content DO Convey a positive message Strive for depth, not breadth Convey your true and genuine thoughts/feelings Write about something you feel strongly about Write about what you know or have experienced firsthand Write about other people as well as about yourself

7 Theme and Content DON’T Try to sell yourself Write an important or scholarly essay Try to guess what the admission committee wants Rehash what the reader already knows about you Waste your essay to explain red flags in your application Write anything that might embarrass the reader Write an essay that reads like a newspaper Even think about mentioning popular TV shows, movies, musicians, or actors

8 Structure and Format DO KISS – Keep It Super Simple Use logical, frequent paragraph breaks DON’T Limit yourself to the 5 paragraph essay format you learned in English class Use poetry unless it’s the only way to get your message across Use drawings unless you are a serious artist

9 Style and Tone DON’T Try too hard to be funny Insult or offend Whine, complain, or appear bitter, sarcastic, angry or boastful Come across as overly humble

10 Opening Sentences DON’T Introduce yourself to the admission committee— “Hello, my name is….” Ask the reader’s permission to tell him/her about yourself “Please permit me to discuss my…” Reiterate the topic or question or itemize the points you will make in subsequent paragraphs “In this essay you will read about…” “I will discuss…”

11 Opening Sentences DO start your essay with: An enigmatic statement that makes the reader wonder to what or to whom you are referring An obscure quotation (avoid popular quotations) A thoughtful question A trivial observation that anyone can relate to but that nobody else would ever think to mention A paradox A gross generalization A confession An overly obvious statement

12 Essay Endings DO end your essay with: Closure – a sense that you have come full circle Final sentences to end any suspense and to answer any question that you might have posed earlier Short, forceful sentences DON’T end your essay with: Words like “finally,” “in sum,” or “in conclusion” Repeat or sum up in any way End your essay with a quotation

13 Final Guidelines DO Use analogies, but don’t overdo it Incorporate dialogue into your essay Mix up sentence length – have more short than long Use an active voice instead of a passive voice (active) The applicant wrote an outstanding essay. (passive) A less-than-outstanding essay was written by the applicant. Proofread and Revise Use ample margins 1”-1 ¼” on all sides Use high resolution laser printer Use highly readable fonts and a font size of 11 or 12

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