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Make Your Stories Pop: 10 College Application Essay Guiding Questions
Working on the drafts of your personal statements for your college applications? The drafting process is critical and can help make your stories and messages clearer. Please be willing to draft and re-write to make your essays stronger.
Here are 10 questions to help guide you through the editing process. I hope they can help make your stories pop on the page and help you get admitted to your match colleges and receive lots of scholarship money.
- Does your essay start with a story that hooks us in from the first paragraph?
- If you start in the past, do you get to the present very quickly? Colleges want to know about the recent you. Great essays can start more recently and weave in past events.
- Do you write only in the first person and not spend too much time describing anyone or anything else? Use my one-third-two-third rule. You may not spend more than 1/3 of the essay describing anything other than your own activities and goals.
- If you are writing about your community or family, do you get to the present and your life and life works quickly? Can this description only connect to you and your story of who are you and how you are making a difference?
- Do you only tell one story and not try to tell your entire life story?
- If you are writing about an obstacle or challenge overcome, do you get to how you have responded and made a difference in the life of your community by the second or third paragraph of the essay? Admissions officers want to know who are you and how you make an impact drawing upon your obstacles or challenges.
- Do you have a metaphor that goes through the entire piece…does this metaphor reveal who you are and what you offer to potential colleges? You can embed this metaphor throughout out your piece.
- Can I close my eyes and picture your story? Does it make you sound unique and not like anyone else applying? Can I see your leadership and initiative and the power of what you will offer a college campus?
- Do you tell new stories and qualities in each separate essay your write? Do you make sure to reveal powerful information and core messages that colleges will need to know to admit you and give you money to attend?
- Endings-Do you end with a bang? Do you make it clear by the end you have goals and aspirations that drive you. Your endings must be specific for some prompts like the University of California and University of Texas, but can be more oblique and implied in Common Application and many supplementary essays. Do you end leaving the reader with the desire to get to know you more, to see you on his or her campus, and to share your essay with someone else?
2014-2015 All College Application Essays AUGUST Essays Update
Can’t you believe it? We have already updated more than 700 colleges. There are still a few universities who haven’t posted their writing supplements or released their own applications or honors essays. Here are the Common and Universal Applications that haven’t released supplements as of August 25, 2015.
We hope to have our new web and app version out by September 1, 2014. It’s not easy dealing with developers that live overseas. So thanks for your patience.
Common Application Supplements Not Yet Out. You can tell we have updated an application with new deadlines and 2014-2015 at top of essay page.
- American University–need to check in September for AU Emerging Global Leader Scholarship for International Students:
- Bard Early Start–check essays in September
- Dominican University of California-updated all but Nursing Supp. not yet available
- Emory University–Merit scholarship essays not yet updated on Emory website
- Lake Erie College
- Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
- Mount St. Mary’s College-Los Angeles
- Naropa University
- Pine Manor College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Rice University-2015 Rice/Baylor College of Medicine Applicants
- Roger Williams University
- Saint Francis University
- Siena College- Supplement for Medical program not yet available
- Southern Connecticut State University
- The George Washington University (Writing Supplement not yet available)
- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (Writing Supplement not available yet)
Universal Application Supplements Not Yet Available
- Embrace Additional Writing Requirements. Most selective colleges using the Common Application have individual Member Questions and/or Writing Supplements. View these supplemental essay opportunities as great offerings, as less is not more in the world of the competitive application process. Colleges that have supplemental essays really want to learn more about you– from you. So give them what they want. Great supplemental essay responses will give admissions officers more reasons to admit you and even give you a scholarship.
- Start with the big picture. Take a look at each written piece the college will receive from and about you—include your essays from the Common Application and even your activity list and letters of recommendation. Look at the supplemental essays as a way to flesh out and expand that picture. See all of your opportunities to share information, and make sure you don’t repeat yourself and what you’ve already discussed in the Common Application.
- Each college’s questions are unique. While all colleges will see your Common Application, only the individual colleges will see your additional responses. So each one is different. Colleges can ask all kinds of questions. Some will have one essay while others will have several. Each question and/or supplement, no matter what it requires you to provide, is another opportunity to provide more valuable information about yourself to the colleges you seek to attend.
- Each Writing Question or Supplemental Essay Prompt is different. Be prepared to write a variety of supplemental essays from short one-line responses to medium size responses to 650 word essays. No matter what the length, each response is a new chance to tell a different story or message about what you will offer a college.
- Use our Into, Though, and Beyond approach in each essay. In each essay provide a hook, key context information, and then powerful ending. You can find our tips for writing great essays on our website: www.allcollegeessays.org.
- Be even smarter than the smart writing questions or supplements. Some of your questions will appear based on what you answer in Member Question about particular majors or merit scholarships. Don’t be surprised if an essay disappears if you change your major or select no to a particular program or scholarship. Keep a running track of what you have to write for each prompt based on your Member Question selections.
- Learn deeply about the personality and reputation of college. Think of what each college values when writing your supplemental essays. If the college is large, and asks a community or diversity question, think how you can make a big campus small. Think how you can enrich a diverse community and how well you can join existing communities. If the college is small, think of ways you can truly engage as a member of an intense learning community. If the college is religious, think of ways you can enrich the spiritual community.
- Let us help you. All College Application Essays has done the hard work of collecting all the Supplemental Essays for you. We tell you where to find them, what each additional essay prompt requires, and the length and submission format. You don’t need to waste your time collecting the essays and their formats, if we already have. Spend your time writing powerful essays that communicate even more reasons for a college to accept you.
- Recycle essays and re-use supplemental essays wisely. Remember, each question and/or supplement is separate and belongs to the individual college and you. The colleges do not communicate with each other, so you can use some of your essays over and over again, especially the longer ones and the optional activity statements. For example, you can see a way to use your University of Chicago Supplemental essays as your Boston College Supplement. Yet don’t be careless, and cut and paste a college specific essay into the wrong college.
- Prepare an activity statement. A short statement about one of your activities is now optional for colleges to use. In 2014-2015, these statements appear in different places, so be prepared by having two to three statements ready to go. The word limit will vary based on the college so have a short, medium, and long version. Focus on your leadership and initiative while also grounding your response in a specific story. Also some of these essays may lead to even better longer essays.
- Share more core qualities in college “Dating” essays. Many colleges have specific essays prompts geared around why you and the college are a good match. Read the specific word on these prompts. Give colleges what they want, a reason to ask you out and ideally propose. Some colleges want only academic information while others want an overall essay. Understand that if they have this prompt, they want to know how you will fit into their campuses. They don’t want mere recaps of what they know they offer. Think of how you can engage specifically on their campuses. Some campuses even send these essays out to professors or specific communities to read. Give specific examples from your visits, college fair talks with admissions officers, or emails with professors or current students. Let them picture you on their campuses by literally picturing yourself on their campus.
- Nothing is optional. Some colleges give you some optional essays. Do not ignore these options to offer new information. Each essay is a chance to share a new reason why you belong on that campus. Of course, don’t force yourself to answer an essay that doesn’t match
- Read college’s specific essay tips. Most colleges now have a variety of ways to communicate their views on college essays. Some even provide model essays, including, Johns Hopkins University, Carleton College, and Connecticut College. Others give great tips from The University of Michigan to Boston University. Read how colleges view the essays on their websites. College specific tips may help you write essays that you engage your admissions readers.
- Know the length and format of each college specific essay. You can submit essays in two ways—paste in or upload. The majority of colleges are using the “paste in” method. Some allow you to upload. All use word limits. Sadly, the text box does not always tell you the word limit even after you paste in. So you can experiment or save your time to write the essay by using our app: All College Application Essays. We provide each submission format—from whether it is required or optional, to word ranges, to submission methods.
- Use these additional essays to present even more powerful information about the additional ways you can enrich each college’s campus. You have plenty of time. Now get going. First buy our app and soon to be released website, All College Application Essays, and then start brainstorming and writing your college application essays. If for some reasons, you cannot afford the app, let us know and we can send you a gift certification to purchase it.
2014-2015 August Prices
For the month of August, All College Application Essays will cost $29,99 for all new users. Current users will get the 2014-2015 colleges with no new charges until we implement our new integrated website version in late August-early September. Take advantage of our daily updates and unique ease of using our Apple and Android Apps. The website version is coming soon. Thanks for your patience.
Anyone who buys the app for the first time in August will receive a code to use the website for free for the 2014-2015 year. Current users will need to update when the new version is released.
Common Application Member Pages or Writing Supplements
When the 2014-2015 The Common Application is released this Friday, applicants will find supplemental essays in two potential places: the college’s Member Page or a separate Writing Supplement. The 2014-2015 Universal Application is exclusively using supplements. All College Application Essays will continue to place all university specific requirements for the Common or Universal Application under Supplements AND we will let you know where to locate them.
Good luck to all rising seniors and transfer students on their college application process.
Tufts Class of 2019 Supplemental Essays
When you visit the Common Application website to fill out and submit your application to Tufts, you’ll notice that the application includes a writing supplement. The Tufts writing supplement consists of three required short response questions. We’ve created this page to allow you to peruse the questions without having to leave this site. Visit the Common Application site when you’re actually ready to apply online.
Short Responses (Required of all Applicants)
Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too.
- Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (50–100 words)
- There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words)
- Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you. Please respond to one of the following six questions (200-250 words):A) From Michelangelo to Mother Theresa, from Jackie Robinson to Elizabeth Bennett, the human narrative is populated by a cast of fascinating characters, real and imagined. Share your favorite and explain why that person or character inspires you.
B) What makes you happy?
C) Sports, science and society are filled with rules, theories and laws like the Ninth Commandment, PV=nRT, Occam’s Razor, and The Law of Diminishing Returns. Three strikes and you’re out. In English, “I” before “E” except after “C.” Warm air rises. Pick one and explain its significance to you.
D) Celebrate your nerdy side.
E) Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.
F) Whether you are goaltending or cheering from the stands, celebrate the role sports plays in your life.
The application is now more complex and will open September 2.
1. Students applying Early Action have no essays to write.
2. Students applying Regular and/or are deferred from EA must complete three short essays (One required and then two from list of three options).
- (Required) The UGA faculty has defined the qualities that the student body should demonstrate in the Admissions Philosophy Statement. After reviewing this, help us understand which of your qualities will add value to our community of scholars. (200-300 words)
Choose two of the following three to answer as well (Two required):
- Share a story about someone in your life (not a family member) who is significantly different than you. How are you different and what have you learned from your relationship with this person? (150-200 words)
- Tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application. (150-200 words)
- UGA’s First Year Odyssey Program offers more than 300 seminar courses for new freshmen. Some examples include “The History of Horseracing”, “Einstein and the Theories of Relativity” and “The Zombie Plague”. If you could create your own seminar course at UGA in any subject area that interested you, what would it be? What would the course be named and what would you hope to learn?(150-200 words)
For more information about the application, please go to our application: All College Application Essays
2014-2015 Boston College Writing Supplement
For both freshmen and transfers:
We would like to get a better sense of you. Please select one of the questions below and write an essay of 400 words or less providing your response.
1. What contemporary issues or trend relating to politics, culture and society, or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why?
2. Many human beings throughout history have found inspiration and joy in literature and works of art. Is there a book, play, poem, movie, painting, music selection, or photograph that has been especially meaningful for you?
3. Contemporary higher education reflects a tension between preparing for a meaningful life and preparing for a career. What are you looking for in an undergraduate education? Which emphasis is important to you at this moment and why?
4. “Magis”, a Latin word meaning “more,” is often cited in reference to the goals of Jesuit education, which seeks to help students become better, do more, and have as much impact on society as possible. How do you hope to achieve the Magis in your life?
Thanks For Visiting Us At HECA
Everyone values our unique app. Listen to this short video by Joan Thomas, who praised us at WACAC and HECA 2014.
“This is so app is so fantastic and it improves my productivity… I think it’s awesome. I think every student and every counselor should have it.”
Joan has it. So do hundreds of HECA counselors. Shouldn’t you?
Your essay application is fantastic. I immediately bought it when you mentioned it at your presentation at NACAC last year and think it’s one of the most amazing tools for my students and for me when working with students. It’s just the best! – Ellen / Independent Educational Consultant