Wednesday Weekly Reader: The Essay Edition

While it may look like Mod Squad Pete is playing soccer, wiffle ball and pool games with his Midwestern cousins this week, I’m certain some part of his mind retains a laser-beam focus on drafting his college essay.

This Essay Edition of the Weekly Reader presents a few links for when he gets back on track.

1. Might help to start by looking at some of the questions. Most colleges now accept the Common App; many also ask for an essay and/or short answers on a supplementary application.

  • The 2011 Common Application is currently offline. The questions can be found on pdf here. (The 2012 Common Application should be available online August 1st.)
  • The University of Virginia‘s supplementary application questions are here.

2.  College Essay Solutions offers some great, brief tips on how to write with emotion. Here’s one:

Be patient. Writing emotionally takes time. People often do not know how they feel about things and even if they do, cannot put those feelings into words. Allow the writing of the essay to unlock emotions you might not have even realized you possess, then keep looking until you find the exact words to capture those emotions.

3.  Tips on writing college application essays from Allen Grove at

Your character shows up in three places on the application: the interview (if you have one), your involvement in extracurricular activities, and your essay. Of the three, the essay is the most immediate and illuminating to the admissions folks as they read through thousands of applications.

4.  The College of William & Mary‘s Admissions Blog, Admit It!, is running a series of posts on essays. Start with Eeeeek! It’s the Essay!

5.  Finally, to better appreciate the work done by admissions professionals, take a look at actual example essays posted (and graded) by admission counselors at It doesn’t take long to appreciate how eye-glazing it must be to read thousands of essays at a time, many of them expressing how the student learned perseverance.

Wiffle ball is looking better and better right now.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Getting In

6 responses to “Wednesday Weekly Reader: The Essay Edition

  1. If I may add one other suggestion, it would be to think about something you can write about that possibly NO OTHER APPLICANT can write about – a special situation, a unique perspective on life, a VERY unusual challenge (I say this because one year I read essays from a student with one eye, another with one arm, another who was blind and a fourth who was battling juvenile arthritis – I was struck by the first two essays but the way they were presented, by the 3rd and 4th they did not impact me in the same way), etc. We all have such things but it takes a bit to pull them out and to figure out how to write about them. I will be leading my online application essay boot camp again next month – 2 hours, 2 nights, 2 amazing to believe! 😉 The above are great tips – thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Is it Rough Being a High School Senior? | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  3. Pingback: 3 Summer Tasks for this High School Senior | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

  4. Dear Dr. StrangeCollege –

    Appreciated the reference to my blog about writing with emotion. Hope it can help some of your readers. Humorous aside… You mentioned wiffle ball. One of the best essays written by one of my students was actually about his love of wiffle ball and where it took him. He’s now at USC Marshall School of Business.

    Craig Heller
    Blogging at

    • Thanks, Craig, for the comment. Glad to hear about your wiffle-ball playing student! Mod Squad Pete is still working on a number of drafts. I particularly appreciated your comparison of the college essay to the types of essays they write in school — after years of being required to write dry, research-driven pieces, it’s time to put their own thoughts and feelings into this one. That’s hard for many adults, let alone teens, who are still and constantly sorting out their emotions. Thanks again.

  5. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly Reader: You Have Got To Be Kidding Me | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s