Posts Tagged essays

But mom…I don’t want to do my homework yet!

jordan-85Hey everyone, I’m sorry for the delay between posts. I have been bombarded by never-ending essays, which brings me to what I am going to talk about today, time management!

Time management is crucial in all schooling, especially college. In high school I didn’t ever have to study extremely hard, like never hours on end, but college has definitely been a wake up call. Learn to manage your time wisely right away, no matter what age you are, because it will benefit you more than you can imagine.

The beginning of my first semester of college was sort of a crash course on time management, if you will. I learned early on that if I didn’t structure my day and allot sufficient time for studying and schoolwork, things wouldn’t be good. My first calculus test grade wasn’t good, and it was because of my lack of time management skills. Since then, I have improved greatly in managing my time wisely, but definitely still have some work to do.

I have a couple tips for you to help you manage your time the best you possibly can.  First off, make sure you place high importance on homework and studying. It may sound cliché, but focusing on homework and studying first before doing other things will be highly beneficial to you and your school performance.

My other piece of advice is that you must make sure not to rush through your homework and studies! I know it is tempting to scribble down the last few answers to your English homework, even if they are wrong, because your favorite television show is about to come on. Skimming over the pages of your textbook without actually reading them is also something most students do; I know I have. There will be time to watch TV and do whatever else it is you want to do, but getting schoolwork done first is a must. I know it might not be fun right now, but you will thank me one day!

From my Dorm at USC

jordan-85Please enjoy my first video blog, talking about the college admission process, the new year and new classes, and showing what a typical college dorm/residence hall looks like.

Check it out here.

College Essays: Happy Days!

jenny-85     Not really. Not for me anyway. I applied to so many schools that I felt quite overwhelmed by the whole process.

     Although the Common Application helps out the main essay, many schools require supplemental essays, which may be short or long depending on the question. Now, what’s really annoying, is the word limit. You want to utilize what you have, but I found it extremely difficult. I constantly cut off and substituted words, trying to make my answers fit. Even though they are annoying, these questions are very important, so do your best. Try to put as much as you can into your answer. I don’t mean that you just should list all the extracurriculars or community service activities you do. Write about them. Describe them. That’s when the word limit becomes your enemy.

     Then there’s the main essay that every college will look at. I rewrote that essay about ten times before my English teacher decided that it was alright. “Alright” meaning I still needed to touch up on it. I wrote about how my aunt’s cancer changed my life. My friends wrote about their families, sports, sibling, life experiences, or passions. Some wrote about experiences that changed their lives, and others wrote about chasing dreams and passions. What you write about is up to you. It is your story, tell it to those who will read it.

     As for revision, get your friends to read it. Enlist a teacher’s help. Read it to yourself quietly. Read it out loud. Is the grammar in agreement? Did you spell something wrong? Did you forget a period? Admissions officers will be paying attention to your writing. If they see a student with grammar and spelling mistakes in their essay, they may think, “Well, this student obviously sent me an unfinished essay. They’re probably not serious about this school to care enough to look their essay over.” My advice: please be careful and take this seriously.

     And for those of you that go “Aw, man. I don’t want to do this”, your future is in your hands. No one will be able to write your college essay for you because your story is yours, not theirs. They cannot tell it as you can. Your college essay will help the school determine whether they want you in their incoming class or not. Take up that pencil and write. You have work ahead, and your future.

ABCs, more important than 123s

shaun-85Many high school students are under the impression that getting into college is all about the numbers—that is, test scores, GPA, and APs. But the truth is, colleges come across a much larger percentage of applicants that fall into their average GPA and SAT pool than they are able to admit. So what do they look at to determine who will receive those golden “Congratulations!” letters? First and foremost, The Essay.

Essays are without a doubt the most grueling (and therefore most dreaded) element of the college application process. Some applicants will sigh in relief to see that one of their colleges doesn’t require a specific essay, and others will apply to schools (*cough* Davidson) that require several supplemental essays in addition to those attached to the Common Application. You may be thinking, “How in the world can I write 53 essays before the January regular decision deadlines?” Here are a few tips:

1. Before you do ANY writing, read through ALL of the essay prompts. It is more than likely that you will be able to use one essay, especially if you choose your topic wisely, to answer several prompts. *Note: If you do use an essay for more than one school, be sure to carefully proofread and change the name of the school accordingly. Your Dartmouth admissions counselor doesn’t care about all of the reasons you want to attend Vassar.

2. Quality is admired above quantity. Admissions officers don’t want to read (and would probably stop half way through) an essay that was the length of a doctoral thesis. Say what you want to say in the most succinct and sophisticated way possible, and impress them with your ability to convey your thoughts and experiences clearly.

3. Don’t be afraid to take risks and write about something unconventional. My college advisor always told us to pretend that our essay was the last in an admission officer’s pile at 4:55 on a Friday afternoon. They have read tediously similar essays all day, and in order for them to remember yours it will have to have a wow factor. An admissions officer once told me that the best essay she ever read was about peanut butter. Be creative!

4. Lastly, be sure to SHOW rather than TELL. This is the difference between saying, “It was a hot day and I was nervous,” and opening the reader into your mind with “My heart raced and I wiped my sweaty palms on my faded blue jeans while my gaze flickered anxiously at the clock.” Which essay would you rather read? Incorporate all five senses, use synonyms, and work on explaining one moment with as much detail as possible rather than explaining your whole life story with bland word choice and vague phrasing.

Writing this many essays may not be fun, but on the bright side, you will never have to do it again! Try to see your essays as an opportunity to show the admissions officers a wonderful and unique side of you that isn’t reflected by your test scores and GPA. Good luck!

TAG!! You’re it!

seanna-85I was never good at hide-and-seek.  I could handle it a little better if I was the one counting, but hiding was horrible for me.  On the one hand, I’m lanky, slightly clumsy, and never good at fitting into the covert nooks and crannies of the house.  But more than that, I’m extremely impatient.  Even waiting for my friend or cousin to count to twenty was too much.  So you can imagine my anxiety as I anticipated college admission decisions.  I was convinced that time had stopped.  Not only had time stopped, but the mailman was in cahoots with the colleges to keep me from the outcomes as long as possible.

Just as I’d reached my end and was about to call the Pentagon to report the conspiracy, I received my first letter in the mail.  Actually, it was less of a letter and more of a package.  Okay, so if you’ve heard the theory that acceptance letters come in big envelopes, while rejections arrive in small envelopes…I have to admit that I think it might be true.  (I apologize if you were waiting for me to discredit the rumor).  I was ecstatic!  I called my mom, texted my best friend, and hugged my boyfriend.  The hard work WAS paying off.  Someone DID want me!  I’d applied to over ten schools, and each of the letters were soon rolling in.  However, the one I was most nervously awaiting had yet to find its way to my mailbox.  Pomona had not replied.

By April 15th, I was sure that I’d been rejected.  Honestly, I was crushed at first.  I wondered what I’d done wrong, if my essays weren’t strong enough…if I wasn’t academically sound enough for their admissions process.  Here’s a small piece of advice—a rejection letter does not reflect a shortcoming in your personality.  Although you may not have been the best fit for that particular college according to a few admission officers, you should not take it as a personal attack on your character or on your worthiness as a human being.  In fact, sometimes when we’re required to open our eyes to new options and alternatives that we weren’t willing to consider at first, windows of opportunity fly open that benefit us amazingly.  Therefore, keep your mind, heart, and eyes open.  While knowing what you want is important, be receptive to changes and prospects from colleges that may not have been your number one.  And if you do get into your number one, congratulations!

Oh…I finally received that acceptance package from Pomona.  I’d given them the wrong zip code.  Second piece of advice—double check your address before submitting information.  The government wasn’t conspiring against me after all.

The Waiting Game

lysa-85You’ve completed all of your applications; sent them all in months ago, read and re-read all of your essays and completed your SAT and/or ACT testing. You’ve gotten teachers to write numerous letters of recommendation for you, and you’ve tried your hardest to avoid the “senior slump” of spring semester and keep your grades afloat. You’ve already survived FAFSA, and are pretty sure where you want to go to college after visiting all of your choices. The only thing left now is THE WAITING GAME, of anxiety, anticipation, fear, and excitement. You’ve completed all of the above items to receive one single letter, of  hopefully above all… an ACCEPTANCE!

I know how you feel. I could hardly wait to receive my application responses back. I checked the mail almost every day after school in hope maybe one letter would arrive earlier; before the decision date. I checked my email 10 times a day and for months made sure everything had been received by each school due to paranoia. But, you know what, you’ve already worked so hard, and you’re already ahead of so many others by just having applied to college! You are going to be the first or one of the first people in your family to go to college! Now, if you only knew which one, right?

Now is a good time  to relax and consider how you are going to celebrate your first acceptance letter. I remember when I received mine. I’ll probably never forget that day. The first school I was accepted into was Wesleyan, followed by Emory a day later. The letters came early and I couldn’t believe it, when I got home and they were waiting for me on my bed. I opened them and was overjoyed that I had been accepted. I knew at that moment, I was definitely going to college – one of the best feelings in the world! I went out to dinner that night at my favorite restaurant and celebrated being accepted into college. However, you will have to decide for yourself how you’re going to celebrate. But, when you get that first letter, you’ll know that YOU’VE MADE IT , that ALL OF THAT HARD WORK HAS PAID OFF, and YOU ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO YOUR FUTURE!  Best of luck to all of you. My best advice is to celebrate your acceptances and not dwell in that unfortunate letter of rejection that may also reach your mailbox, because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Don’t be discouraged, and realize that your letter of ACCEPTANCE is on its way!

Shout out to my Mentors!!

seanna-85One of the hardest things about doing something new that has tricks and turns, stumbling blocks and stop signs…is exactly that…it’s something new with tricks and turns…stumbling blocks and stop signs.  Junior and senior year were hectic.  Sometimes I felt that I was getting to know myself better on paper than in person.  Essay after essay, cover letters and resumes, applications and recommendations…all became every day components of my life.  However, so did a few special people—a few adults and leaders that I came to consider mentors.

I don’t think there is a special formula for someone who can be a mentor; no set criteria or educational background requirement.  Still, they tend to be very special individuals, capable of guiding you along your path and setting stones of future opportunities before your feet.  I didn’t have very many, but those that I did have were more than enough, remaining with me even now.  They provided security and motivation when I was lost and “at my end”.  Oftentimes, my mentors saw potential in me that I was unable to see, pushing me past limiting boundaries onto brighter possibilities.

I believe that those who have traveled a similar path before you are able to offer advice that we have yet to know that we need.  That wisdom is priceless, immeasurable in quality and value.  Looking back, I remember and appreciate the help they provided.  Looking forward, I want to serve as a mentor on my college campus and within my future communities.  The most amazing thing about my mentors was not that they were superiorly perfect human beings or that they’d changed the world with sterling accomplishments.  Instead, they were people, just as I am, capable of embracing their mistakes and passing on their wisdom.  They were willing to change my world, and in doing so…enable me to begin a path of helping others change their own.

~Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.~John Crosby


duylam-85This is post is going to be a McFlurry of things – just a heads up.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine at Babson, Alex, and he told me he wanted to transfer to Stanford or USC [both in his home state]. But he said “Man, but I may just give up on Stanford, my GPA isn’t high enough for it.” He has a 3.67 or a 3.7 – pretty good for a first year. Anyway.

Now I’m back home in good ol’ Virginia and I was talking to my good friend, David, who actually goes to Stanford. We talked about this, that, and the third – we had a lot of college stuff to catch up on. I finally asked him though about the whole GPA, test scores, etc thing and what it meant to Admissions @ Stanford [and I believe this is the same for all top tier schools]. He said that all of the good stats are super fantastic and it does help a lot, but he said that especially for Stanford, it is all about the passion. The passion you have for whatever it is that you do and it is about showing that passion through your essays. Now don’t quote me for every school, but I think it’s safe to say that it is the same for all schools. Maybe my fellow scholars can enlighten on it.

So convey passion. Make your essays exude the sweat, blood, and tears you’ve shed over the years. Easier said than done I know, but a key, as you probably already have heard, to conveying it is through an example of your life. It’s too easy to just say “I want to be the best”, instead show them it!

Anna Ivey even agrees upon this principle of conveying passion as a key to admission to law schools. But regardless of which school, undergrad or grad, passion is the key.

Here are some law school essay examples of how NOT to write. I figure if I give an example of what SHOULDN’T be done then there will be more space for your own style instead of following what is a good essay.

Bad Law School Essays

I would now leave off with a quote from Atlas Shrugged, but stupid me I forgot to mark the page with the quote – it was from Hank Rearden – but it went something like: “What he feared most was not those that oppose him, but losing the ability of motion, of not wanting to take action.”

Merry Christmas,

Winter…and the heat is on!

joseph-85Swish…loop…crank…crank…nervousness…click click click (gear grinds)… click clack…This is the last hump on the roller coaster of my first semester.  There is a lot to do between today and the end of this semester, but somehow these last few months have sped by.

For you high-schoolers out there my guess is that you are experiencing a similar sense of unease and nervousness.  The time to finish college applications is nigh, just as the promise of a break from school for the holiday season.  I remember that when my C.U. application was somehow erased every time I attempted to save it, a certain heat went up and down my back. So much frustration resulted from this that I felt I alone possessed a terrible burden.  In short, the college application process was a very intense experience for me, and I’m sure it is proving to be, at some points, for you as well.

What I have noticed though is that stress is inevitable.  I find that the heat is on now as the first semester comes to a close. With due diligence and a lot of patience I have faith that it will all work out in the end, and if you have that same faith it will help you to make more rational and cautious decisions than if you don’t.  Let me tell you that your applications and essays will look much better if you type them with a clear head rather than with “just finishing” in mind.  These applications and such can be finished, and if I can impart those seniors out there with one more bit in the endless stream of advice: don’t stress out and make more problems for yourself. At the same time though I want to be clear that what you are doing is important, and that is why it is so important to approach these issues with a level head.