The College Application Essay Review

The College Application Essay Review-3
But once you start adding exclamation points, you’re wading into troubled waters. ACTIVE BODY PARTS One way to make your reader giggle is to give body parts their own agency.When you write a line like “His hands threw up,” the reader might get a visual image of hands barfing. CLICHÉS THINK YOUR THOUGHTS FOR YOU Here’s one: There is nothing new under the sun. George Orwell’s advice: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”TO BE OR NOT TO BE Get rid of “to be” verbs.

But once you start adding exclamation points, you’re wading into troubled waters. ACTIVE BODY PARTS One way to make your reader giggle is to give body parts their own agency.When you write a line like “His hands threw up,” the reader might get a visual image of hands barfing. CLICHÉS THINK YOUR THOUGHTS FOR YOU Here’s one: There is nothing new under the sun. George Orwell’s advice: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”TO BE OR NOT TO BE Get rid of “to be” verbs.

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Picture this before you plop yourself down in front of your computer to compose your college application essay: A winter-lit room is crammed with admissions professionals and harried faculty members who sit around a big table covered with files.

The admissions people, often young and underpaid, buzz with enthusiasm; the professors frequently pause to take off their glasses and rub their eyes.

Replace “was” in “The essay was written by a student; it was amazing and delightful” and you’ll get: “The student’s essay amazed and delighted me.” We’ve moved from a static description to a sprightlier one and cut the word count almost in half. Ending on a preposition is the sort of English up with which teachers will not put.

WORD PACKAGES Some phrases — free gift, personal beliefs, final outcome, very unique — come in a package we don’t bother to unpack. RULES TO IGNORE In English class, you may have to follow a list of rules your teacher says are necessary for good grammar: Don’t use contractions. And don’t begin a sentence with a conjunction like “and” or “but” or “because.” Pick up a good book.

Counselors (those who work for high schools and those hired by families) have long provided various forms of help on application essays.

So have parents, English teachers, family friends and others.A car, kimchi, Mom’s upsizing — the writers used these objects as vehicles to get at what they had come to say. REPEATING THE PROMPT Admissions officers know what’s on their applications.They allowed the writer to explore the real subject: This is who I am. Instead, look at times you’ve struggled or, even better, failed. Don’t begin, “A time that I failed was when I tried to beat up my little brother and I realized he was bigger than me.” You can start right in: “As I pulled my arm back to throw a punch, it struck me: My brother had gotten big.It was too perfect for a student whose writing wasn't.It was more focused than the student's writing.You’ll see that the best authors ignore these fussy, fusty rules.Rachel Toor is a creative writing professor at Eastern Washington University in Spokane.They would go into the garage and talk, really talk: “Once my mom said to me in a thick Korean accent, ‘Every time you have sex, I want you to make sure and use a condo.’ I instantly burst into laughter and said, ‘Mom, that could get kind of expensive! And remember those exhausted admissions officers sitting around a table in the winter.’ ” A girl wrote about her feminist mother’s decision to get breast implants. Jolt them out of their sugar coma and give them something to be excited about.As for the practical, she found herself wondering whether the essay was "too good" for someone with the student's grades, and whether it would be obvious that the essay didn't reflect the student's skills.The counselor said in an interview that the incident focused her attention on a growing part of the admissions process for students of means: writing coaches.

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