Named One of Top College Apps
ALL COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS was just named of the top college apps for iPhone and iPad. In fact, we are in the top five of the powerful list of apps to help those applying to and in college.
To see our app and others that will help you and someone you know go to:
As of November 22, here are early action or early decision extensions.
Emerson, Goucher, Hampshire, Princeton, Trinity, Tufts, University of Maine-Machias, and Washington University at St. Louis are also using the Universal Application
Wofford College (Early Action)
SUNY Geneseo (Early Decision)
Syracuse University (Early Decision)
Cornell University (Regular)
A Plea to Those Helping Students With College Application Essays: Let the 17-year-old Voice Take Center Stage
A Plea to Those Helping Students With College Application Essays: Let the 17-year-old Voice Take Center Stage
By Rebecca Joseph
Here is my latest blog from The Huffington Post.
Recently, I saw a private coach inside a Starbucks using a thesaurus to help a high school senior make a college application essay sound “more mature.” Another counselor encouraged one of my students to write about a troubling failure without focusing on the lessons learned. This season, yet another of my students couldn’t explain to me what different sections of her story meant because her tutor, a screenwriter, had added examples into her essay that were unfamiliar to her.
I am tired of watching college applicants disappear as their adult advocates take over.
Admissions officers tell me they desperately want essays written authentically by the applicants, featuring stories, themes, and language that reflect the applicant’s actual writing. Yet college coaches, tutors, counselors and parents at times take the opposite approach. They are over-editing by telling students what words to use and what to write.
My appeals to privilege the teenagers’ voices grow stronger every day of college application season. What message are we sending our young people if we over-edit their essays so much that their originality and authenticity fade away?
It is time to let the 17-year-old voice take center stage.
As a national expert on college application essays, I travel around the country speaking to parents, schools, and communities about college application essays. I work with under-represented students to help encourage them to write application essays that communicate their stories, and I coach more privileged students individually.
No matter what their background, all teens need to learn that they have powerful stories to tell. While they usually don’t have experience writing admissions essays, they can all write powerful essays if provided with brainstorming, drafting, and revising strategies.
Applying to college is an audition process; only the student can set foot on the stage and perform. College application readers look at student’s grades, test scores, and recommendations, as well as essays. They are experts, and they can see disconnects. They can also see the other essays each student writes and can observe wild shifts in style and tone.
Teachers, coaches, parents, do what good mentors and editors do: guide and question, but do not rewrite. If you are reviewing a student’s work, it is important that you understand that colleges do not want to hear your stories or read your mature writing styles. They want to hear fresh stories that reveal the unique experiences of students growing up in their era, not yours.
Also, anyone who helps students should be a mentor and a guide — not a ghostwriter. Drafting essays takes time and is often painful, requiring students to find the allegorical stories that share powerful evidence of how they will enrich a campus. External advice, not rewriting, can be very helpful for your students. Remember, they have never done this sort of writing before. Help them see drafting as an authentic means of sharpening their voices.
And students, please understand that colleges want to hear from you and only you. When they want to hear from an adult, they will ask, usually in the form of a letter of recommendation.
Colleges want to read a story in your voice that tells them about an event or experience, quality or place that reveals what you, and you alone, can offer. What does the experience mean to you? They don’t want manufactured grand stories that would belong in The New Yorker, unless you are a brilliant author who has already been published and who can demonstrate a portfolio of similarly written pieces. The process of thinking about the messages you want to send colleges in your essays can take weeks. There are no shortcuts.
As the holidays and college application deadlines approach, let’s all give admissions offices a gift — essays that enable the applicants’ voices to pop off the page with originality and authenticity.
Barnard, GW, Tufts, SUNY Geneseo Also Extend Deadlines
Barnard and Tufts move Early Decision I deadlines to November 8. Tufts just joined Princeton in also offering applicants access to the Universal Application.
George Washington University moved ED I to November 11
SUNY Geneseo moves Early Decision to December 1.
Many more colleges are extending fall early decision and early action deadlines. Please help students and families navigate this process.
Minnesota Colleges Develop New Part Ones
In these stormy times, many colleges cannot yet access the submitted Common Applications, so they have developed independent part ones, so they can at least learn about applicants. Several private colleges in Minnesota are clever and each has developed a new part one: Macalaster, Carleton, and St. Olaf.
Here is what St. Olaf said on its website: Continue reading
With the new Common Application and its glitches, some schools are pushing back freshman early deadlines like they did for Hurricane Sandy. UNC and Georgia Tech have moved early action deadlines from October 15 to October 21. Roanoke has moved its Fall Priority Deadline also the 21st, while Columbia Deadline has moved its ED deadline to November 8. The University of Chicago has also pushed back its Early Action deadline for all applicants, including Questbridge until November 8.
Many colleges are softening transfer deadlines as well. Check each one’s website to check for updates.
See a letter from UNC.
We realize many of you are working diligently to assist your students with completing the Common Application, and that despite your best efforts, you are encountering many difficulties. As a result, we are extending our Early Action deadline until 11:59 PM, EDT on Monday, October 21st. We hope this will give you and your students the extra time needed to submit applications. This information is already posted on our blog and will be sent to all prospects via email later today. Please also remember counselors have until November 1st to submit application materials, including high school transcripts, counselor statements and recommendation letters.
We do recommend that your students submit their application as soon as the Common Application is functioning rather than waiting until right before our extended October 21st deadline. We hope the extra time helps relieve even a minor amount of stress. Please do not hesitate to call us with further questions or concerns.
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill”
Keeping Up: New Additions
- Princeton just added the Universal Application so we just added those requirements.
- Southern Methodist is pushing its own application so we added those requirements as well.
Let us know if you want any more additions made.
2013-2014 New Bard Entrance Examination
The Bard Entrance Examination is an online essay test open to high school juniors and seniors. Completion of the test is equivalent to an application for admission. Candidates who score B+ or higher will receive an offer of admission. The deadline for submitting a completed examination is January 1, with notification of the results by January 31. There is no fee for this examination.
How Does It Work?
Candidates must write four essays, choosing from 21 questions. The questions are organized into three categories. One question must be answered from each category. The fourth essay may be from any of the three, thereby repeating a category. The suggested length for each of the four essays is 2,500 words, with the exception of the mathematics questions (C1 and C3) and the question that asks for a musical composition (B2).
All the information needed to answer the questions is on the examination platform. However, you are not limited to these sources. If you use other materials, they must be properly cited. Remember that this is not a test of what you already know; rather it is an opportunity to demonstrate close reading, critical thinking, and the ability to interpret problems. It is an effort to connect testing to learning.
The Bard Entrance Examination is accessed via SlideRoom. Once registered, applicants may enter and exit the examination as often as needed before the deadline of 11:59 p.m., January 1, 2014. Along with the completed examination, applicants must sign an Honor Pledge assuring the readers that the work is their own. The Honor Pledge is located on the examination platform.
Anyone interested in taking the exam is encouraged to log in and see the full list of questions. There is no fee for logging in, and no penalty for doing so and not completing the exam. All incomplete entries will be discarded after the exam closes on January 1.
The examination will be graded by members of the Bard faculty and staff. Each of the four essays will be evaluated separately. There will also be a composite grade. Candidates scoring a composite grade of B+ or higher will receive notification of an offer of admission to the College by January 31.
Completing Your Application
Students who are accepted through this examination process must complete their file by submitting two documents: an official high school transcript and a general reference letter from the high school counselor or another appropriate school official. Homeschooled students may submit documentation of their curriculum in lieu of a transcript.
An official letter of admission will be sent within one week of receipt of these documents.
Candidates who receive a B will be invited to complete the Common Application and will be considered as having met the January 1 deadline. Their strong showing on the examination will complement their application in the regular admission review process. They will receive their regular admission decision by the end of March.
1. Category A, question 1
“On a Supposed Right to Lie” is an essay written by Immanuel Kant in response to a challenge to Kant’s ethical theory posed by a critic named Benjamin Constant; it is usually appended as a supplement to Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. Constant asked if “the German philosopher” (meaning Kant) actually intended that, even if a murderer comes to the door asking for the location of his next victim, who you know to be in the next room, the right thing to do would still be to tell the truth. (This has been discussed as “the murderer at the door problem.”) Constant’s suggestion is that it seems obvious in this case that the right thing to do is to lie (despite what Kant’s theory would dictate).(1) In broad strokes, how does Kant answer this challenge?(2) More precisely, what does Kant mean by saying that the truth-teller is not, in a real sense, free to choose his or her action?
(3) More precisely still, what does Kant mean in his last paragraph when he says that “exceptions destroy the universality”? Why does Kant believe this is so important? Is it, according to you?
Link to reading: “On a Supposed Right to Lie,” by Immanuel Kant
2. Category A, question 2
Using the text of The Constitution of the United States and arguments written in support of the ratification contained in the Federalist Papers, discuss how, if, and why the Constitution remains an effective tool for governing the United States of America. Do you perceive a conflict between the original historical context and the realities of contemporary political life?
Links to readings:
3. Category A, question 3
In the Analects, Confucius identifies the cardinal virtue of ren (variously translated as goodness, humanity, benevolence) with many different attitudes and behaviors. Yet Confucius also says, “There is one thread that runs through my doctrines.” Commentators differ about what that one thread is. What, in your opinion, could that one thread be? How does that one thread tie together the wide range of moral values that Confucius celebrates in the Analects? Support your answer by interpreting specific passages from the text.
Link to reading: Analects, by Confucius (PDF)
4. Category A, question 4
There has been a great deal of public debate about the increase in inequality of wealth in the United States. At the same time, making it possible for any hardworking individual to improve his or her standard of living is often seen as an economic right. Discuss whether or not economic equality should be a central concern for policy makers. Taking the role of a policy maker in the United States or your home nation, construct economic arguments to support your view. The following resources might aid your argument (you need not limit yourself to these sources, however).
Links to readings:
5. Category A, question 5
In 1919 historian and sociologist Max Weber delivered two influential speeches to German university students who were trying to make sense of the German defeat in World War I. The lectures, “Politics as a Vocation” and “Science as a Vocation,” address the nature of learning, scholarship, and political action. Read these lectures and write an essay that focuses on an aspect of Weber’s argument with which you either agree or disagree. You may want to consider one lecture or to compare the two. In what ways are Weber’s views relevant today, nearly a century after they were delivered?
Links to readings:
“Politics as a Vocation,” by Max Weber (PDF)
“Science as a Vocation,” by Max Weber (PDF)
6. Category A, question 6
The United Nations was created by the victors of the World War II, with the Security Council as its core. Can an institution created in 1945 and dominated by five permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France) respond to today’s global challenges? What changes might occur in the Security Council to make the United Nations a more representative and effective institution? In writing your answer, you should consult the UN Charter and the Report of the Secretary-General: In Larger Freedom (especially section 5).
Links to readings:
Arts and Literature
1. Category B, question 1
“Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books forever.” –Ezra Pound, ABC of ReadingRead “The Pardoner’s Tale.” Construct an argument in favor or against Pound’s statement. In writing your answer, refer to at least one other text from the period, for example, Langland’s Piers Plowman, or The Song of Roland.Links to readings:“The Pardoner’s Tale,” by Geoffrey ChaucerPiers Plowman, by William Langland (PDF)The Song of Roland (Anonymous)
2. Category B, question 2
It is often said that the U.S. national anthem is hard to sing and that, to many, the text makes little sense. Imagine that there is a competition for a new national anthem. Write a musical composition for that imaginary competition in any style using the opening text of The Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Link to reading: The Declaration of Independence
3. Category B, question 3
Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” (1835) is considered one of the funniest works of Russian literature. It is the story of a man who wakes up one morning without his nose. But as its narrator quizzically puts it, “the most incomprehensible thing of all is, how authors can choose such subjects for their stories.” Ever since Aristotle, students expect to glean some wisdom from literature. But then, what to make of seemingly gratuitous and absurdist stories like Gogol’s “The Nose“?
Link to reading: “The Nose,” by Nikolai Gogol
4. Category B, question 4
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Choose three images by different artists from the attached catalogue. Write a thousand words or less per image that express what you believe corresponds to or represents the work of art—what each work “seems to be about” or what the artist intended.
Link to images: Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?
5. Category B, question 5
Writers and commentators have expressed contrasting views on the relationship between truth and beauty. Take, for example, these excerpts from George Herbert and John Keats. What is the relationship between truth and beauty? In writing your answer you may also refer to Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.
Who sayes that fictions onely and false hair Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty? Is all good structure in a winding stair? May no lines passe, except they do their dutie Not to a true, but painted chair? —George Herbert, “Jordan 1” (1633) O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, ’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ —John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1820)
Links to readings:
The Temple (1633), by George Herbert
“Ode on a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats
6. Category B, question 6
Read Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. Why did the gods punish Prometheus for stealing fire and giving it to man?
Link to reading: Prometheus Bound, by Aeschylus
7.Category B, question 7
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is best known for its influence in popular culture through many film adaptations. It is in fact, however, one of the great novels of ideas. Write an essay that discusses in what sense you think it is a novel of ideas. What are its claims about human reason and human nature?
Link to reading: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Science and Mathematics
1. Category C, question 1
Consider the following two-player game, Don’t be Greedier, that involves players taking alternate turns removing pebbles from one pile of pebbles, subject to the following rules:(1) The player to remove the last pebble or pebbles from the pile wins the game.(2) On the very first move of the game, the player to play is not allowed to remove all the pebbles and win immediately (that would be greedy).(3) After the first move, the number of pebbles removed can’t be more than the number of pebbles removed in the turn immediately prior (that would be greedier). That is, the sequence of numbers of pebbles removed on each turn is a monotonically nonincreasing sequence.
Starting with a pile of 12 pebbles, which player would win a game of Don’t be Greedier, assuming optimal play?
2.Category C, question 2
Read this article on the use of fecal transplants to cure Clostridium difficile, “Duodenal Infusion of Donor Feces for Recurrent Clostridium difficile,” from the New England Journal of Medicine. Design a research trial to test whether another disease may be cured using microbes from the human biome.
Link to reading: “Duodenal Infusion of Donor Feces for Recurrent Clostridium difficile,”by Els van Nood, et al.
3.Category C, question 3
Why is factoring numbers into primes a difficult problem?
4.Category C, question 4
The origin of chirality (or “handedness”) in a prebiotic life is a question that lingers across all subfields of the physical and natural sciences. Biological constructs such as proteins, enzymes, DNA, and RNA function with well-defined, three-dimensional structure. We know that these constructs are composed of a set of homochiral amino acids and sugars that are labeled according to the direction they rotate plane-polarized light (L vs. D). In a series of communications, Ronald Breslow and coworkers (PNAS 2006, 2009, and 2010) have approached this question and performed a set of experiments showing how this chirality could have developed from the chemical influence of amino acids discovered as part of the Murchison meteorite. Read these communications and develop a detailed experiment that may either support or refute Breslow’s claims.
Links to readings:
“Amplification of enantiomeric concentrations under credible prebiotic conditions,” by Ronald Breslow and Mindy S. Levine (PDF)
“L-amino acids catalyze the formation of an excess of D-glyceraldehyde, and thus of other D sugars, under credible prebiotic conditions,” by Ronald Breslow and Zhan-Ling Cheng (PDF)
“On the origin of terrestrial homochirality for nucleosides and amino acids,” by Ronald Breslow and Zhan-Ling Cheng (PDF)
5. Category C, question 5
In a landmark paper, Dr. Francis Crick defends his 1958 statements outlining the central dogma of molecular biology, describing the process of DNA, which transfers information to produce RNA, which transfers information to produce protein. Using this original document (Crick, 1970), explain how prion disorders (described in the Nobel Lecture by Prusiner, 1998) would be classified within this central dogma. Additionally, explain why the mechanism of transmission by prions is so difficult to prove experimentally.
Links to readings:
“Central Dogma of Molecular Biology,” by Francis Crick (PDF)
“Prions,” by Stanley B. Prusiner (PDF)
6. Category C, question 6
Read the article “Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project.” Drawing from the materials presented in the article, explain why computers can beat human beings at certain games but not others.
Link to reading: “Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project,” by David Ferrucci, et. al.
7. Category C, question 7
In his 1963 lecture on gravity, Richard Feynman mentions that the “weird” behavior of Uranus led to the discovery of a new planet. More precisely, the fact that Uranus’s movement did not fit what was predicted by the then-current understanding of planetary motion could be explained by the existence of a not-yet-observed planet—and the planet was then observed right where predicted. Suppose that observatories had looked at the indicated position and had not actually found the predicted planet. What then? What new questions would this outcome pose for the scientific community? How could they test other explanations for the unexpected motion of Uranus?
Links to reading and video:
“The Theory of Gravitation,” by Richard Feynman (text)
“Law of Gravitation,” by Richard Feynman (video)
Category C, question 8
Why is this primarily a scientific rather than a literary passage?
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” (Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, page 433)
Formatting Your Common Application Essays
You’ve spent so much time writing powerful application essays, we need to ensure your essays will look as good visually as they will read.
The Common Application now requires you to paste in your long essay and most supplementary essays, yet the basic formatting does not allow you to use paragraph breaks. BUT there is a solution.
Here is what the Common Application recommends: “You can type directly into the box, or you can paste text from another source. If pasting your essay creates problems with formatting, try first transferring your essay into a text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) before pasting into the application.”
I did just that with a client. It took patience but worked. So please follow these steps:
1. She finished her essay in Pages (Word is fine as well).
2. She made block paragraphs-no indenting of paragraphs and double “returns” between paragraphs.
3. Then she copied the entire piece into TextEdit (and only fixed the spacing between paragraphs so it remained double spaces between paragraphs).
4. She copied it from TextEdit into the Common Application.
5. She fixed spacing issues but made no text or formatting changes.
6. When she went to the Preview page, it was double spaced between paragraphs as she wanted.
It that didn’t work, you unintentionally made a change in TextEdit. Go back and follow these steps again.
By Kim Lifton
Snapshot of Wow banner displayed at NACAC Conference 2013.
A reporter from Inside Higher Eddropped by the Wow booth last month during the National Association for College Admission Counseling annual convention in Toronto, ready to learn more about the college application essay.
“It seems the college essay has become a really hot subject,” he said, pulling out his notebook and asking several questions about the application essay.
As early admission deadlines near for this year’s applicant pool, the college essay is indeed a hot topic. High school counselors packed sessions atNACAC that focused on the college essay, and our booth was swarming with curious conference goers, wondering if we had a secret formula for writing a winning application essay.
No College Essay Formula
There’s no college essay formula, we assured them, but Wow does have a secret weapon: a set of simple instructions in an online tutorial that guides students through the process of discovery, and helps them find their own writing voices.
Here’s what we took home from the conference: Admissions people from small liberal arts colleges, the Big 10 and the more selective universities agreed they are tired of reading sanitized essays; they want to read more genuine stories written in a 17-year-old voice.
Let Your 17-Year-Old Voice Be Heard
“Let the 17-year-old voice be heard,” tweeted Dr. Rebecca Joseph, an associate professor at California State University, Los Angeles, following a lively panel discussion she moderated: Communicating Your Story: Writing Powerful College Application Essays.
Dr. Joseph, who developed the All College Application Essays app, which provides essay prompts for more than 700 colleges, added that the essay is an opportunity to tell a story that is important to you, and to share your authentic voice.
“Make yourself come alive during this process,” Dr. Joseph said. “Write about yourself as passionately and powerfully as possible. Be proud of your life and accomplishments. Sell yourself!”
All-star College Essay Panel
Joseph’s all-star panel featured Rebecca Cullen, Senior Program Manager, Young Scholars Program, Jack Kent Cook Foundation; Margit Dahl, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Yale University; and Erica Sanders, Managing Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Michigan. Each reiterated the importance of a student’s authentic voice in an essay.
“We don’t want them heavily edited by an adult, “ Yale’s Dahl said. “We really need to hear the adolescent behind the essay. We don’t want to hear a 45-year-old voice. Parents may know them best, and they are good people to read; but not with hands on a keyboard or a red pen in hand.”
Also at the conference, visitors to our booth inquired further about voice, over-involved parents and students who write five-paragraph essays to answer college application essay prompts. We interviewed current and former admissions officers from dozens of schools, including Cornell, UNC-Chapel Hill, Yale, Skidmore College, George Washington University and Denison. (See video interviews from last year; more coming soon!)
Indiana Adds Short College Essay Requirement
What’s more, we discussed the new 300-word personal statement added to theIndiana University application with the director of admissions, learned about the soon-to-be redesigned SAT and SAT writing test, and listened to Common Apprepresentatives explain how they will fix the gaffes in the CA4.
Wow is a member of NACAC, MACAC, Illinois ACAC, Overseas ACAC and an affiliate of IECA and HECA.
Kim Lifton is president of Wow Writing Workshop. You can read Kim’s blogs and get useful writing tips by signing up for Wow’s newsletter. Wow is also on Facebook and Twitter. Check our schedule to sign up for weekly webinars and workshops that will help you and your students write great college admissions essays. Remember this: YOU are your perfect college essay subject.
“I really love the app (ALL COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS) and use it as a go-to for a lot of different things. I notice it’s available through the Google Play store now (I’m an Android AND an Apple user — go figure!)
I took a screen shot of the Middlebury app and sent it to my colleague in Westchester NY and she bought the app, too. I also introduced it to our local public high school college programs coordinator.” —Janis Allen