Galactic Hot Dogs
 
Home > School and Learning > By Grade > College > Preparing for College > Writing Your Way into College
|

Writing Your Way into College

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
--Anais Nin, author

On a sunny autumn day in San Diego, scores of college guidance counselors from across the country resisted the temptation to walk along the city's famous beaches. Instead they grabbed seats in a chilly, windowless room. The counselors, who were attending the College Board's annual convention, had shown up for one reason -- to learn the secrets of writing a successful college essay.

Not surprisingly, the room was jammed. With top schools so competitive, many ambitious kids assume that if they write a zinger of an essay, it just might keep their application from getting fed into a paper shredder. So everyone -- from kids, to parents, to counselors -- is eager to know just what a winning essay looks like.

The speakers at the College Board session included administrators at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, which keeps 20 staffers busy reading 50 essays a day, six days a week during application season.

Here is what they had to say:
Avoid the thesaurus. Don't write like a pedantic humanities professor who is trying too hard to impress colleagues. Avoid ostentatious words that you would normally never touch. One presenter at the College Board session provided this real, over-the-top example of an overstuffed essay:

    Hi my name is Jim, and since brevity is the soul of wit I will meekly attempt to convey to you a succinct summary of my ephemeral existence. Allow me amnesty as I am often a bit alliterative. Time is of the essence throughout humankind, and with every word I write, the nearly endless ebb of extravagant expressions flow like a rushing river, fleeing futilely towards an irrelevant ocean. Dam!

    Don't write like that!

Skip the English paper. Too many high school English teachers encourage their kids to write with as much creativity as a cardboard box. They don't do their kids any favors by insisting that they follow stilted formulas. For instance, when students write the classic persuasive essay, they are supposed to stuff the pros and cons on a subject, whether it's abortion or the Iraq war, in the very first paragraph. High schoolers are often penalized if they deviate from that formula even if they pen a far more compelling essay.

High school teachers often chastise kids who dare to use "first person" in their papers. Colleges, however, are eager to experience an applicant's "voice" in an essay, which means writing in first person is essential. The Yale speaker at the College Board gathering called essays written in third person "scary."



Next: Page 2 >>
|

From The College Solution Copyright © 2008, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


highlights

Top 10 Sweet 16 Birthday Gifts
Your daughter's sweet 16 is a big milestone in her life. Celebrate this special occasion with one of these top gifts for girls turning 16.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Printable Lists of the Top 100 Baby Names
Need help with baby name ideas? Use our printable list of the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2015 to help you brainstorm and narrow down your favorites.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks