How to Ignore College Application Essay Hype

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How to Ignore College Application Essay Hype

Lots of you might be already out for summer, or at the finishing line. Yippee!!

If you’re now officially an incoming high school senior, or soon to be, it’s time to get cranking on your college application essay.

I’m sure you have heard that summer is the ideal time to start the brainstorming and writing process. If you can get them all done before the start of your senior year, all the better.

You most likely have heard these essays may be critical to your college acceptance chances.

Yes, it’s true they can matter, and sometimes tip the scales in your favor. No doubt it’s worth putting in significant time and effort on them.

But I believe it’s important never to fall for all the hype and madness around this application process.

I know when I’m stressed or anxious, my creative juices quickly shrivel up.

Once you start reading about college application essays on the Web, you most likely will find advice that uses intimidating words, such as ‘transformational’ and ‘differentiating.’ So-called experts prefer to say things like how it’s critical to ‘Be yourself’ in your essay, and how these are your ‘Chance to shine.’

They have beenn’t wrong, necessarily. But all the ballyhoo isn’t very helpful if all you want to know is how and where to start, and what topic to write about, and how to craft it into a effective essay.

When you hear that a killer essay is one that shows you ‘transforming yourself,’ that’s quite a directive. It means you had some type of dramatic change in your daily life, whether it was physical, emotional or even spiritual.

If you had that type of experience, good for you. And it could make a solid topic.

Many of us, however, by age 16 or 17 or even later, have not experienced that variety of radical metamorphosis. So can you still write a great essay?

Absolutely!

What I have found dealing with students on these essays and the search for the holy grail topic, is that the simple, everyday ‘mundane’ ones frequently work best. Same goes for life changes. They don’t need to be profound to be interesting and meaningful.

As an example, if you are rooting around for an interesting topic, and reflecting on ways you have changed in recent years, look for the smaller changes. Look for shifts, modifications, alterations, smaller movements in your lifetime. I believe the absolute most interesting shifts can be bought in your thinking, especially if you learned something new or unexpected, or saw something in a different light or context.thesis statement to kill a mockingbird racism

The idea is that your essay topic doesn’t need to be about a momentous change in your daily life. Instead, recall moments, incidents or experiences that happened in your recent past (high school years are best), and see if anything changed or shifted in your thinking (about yourself, about others or about the entire world) in the process of dealing with whatever went down.

That takes off the pressure to have had a radical life experience where you were one person, and then something happened, and suddenly you were a entirely different person. That rarely happens. Instead, brainstorm those everyday moments or ‘times,’ and explore how your thinking changed. Even better, think about how what you cared about changed. Hint: those are called your values.

Colleges love to not only get a sense of your unique personalities in these essays, but they value seeing how you think, feel and behave, and what you value and learn, in these essays. It is possible to write a ‘transformational’ essay without having changed from a bad person to a good person, or a shy person to an outgoing person, etc.

You might be changing all the time, and it can be hard to notice at the moment. Take a little time to think of things that have happened to you, and more time to examine how you responded to them. Another hint: best place to find interesting moments are those that involved problems.

Even if you are following me so far, you most likely are wondering what you do once you think of some of these personal changes or shifts, and how to spin them into a piece of writing.

I have written posts all over my Essay Hell blog on exactly what to do, and I also spell it out in my popular writing guide, Escape Essay Hell, and in my online writing bootcamp. I’m also walking students through this process in my Jumpstart webinars, which started this month. The next one is this Saturday, at 10 a.m., West Coast time, and I will have several more this month.

A lot of ways to get started on these essays. Pick one and get going!

I hope you might be hearing my main point in this post: Don’t get freaked out by all the hype about what these essays are all about.

Like all the millions of students who have gone into Essay Hell before you, you will also find a topic and write a killer essay! Just buckle down at some point this summer, read up on what they are all about, pick what resources you imagine will help you the best, and you will find they aren’t that freaky after all.

I’m back! Haven’t posted for a lot of months.I don’t know about you, but the recent college admission scandal gave me a total gut punch. Every one of these rich people buying and cheating their way into colleges. Disgusting.

( In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this: They Had It Coming from The Atlantic.)I did some soul-searching about my personal role as an essay writing coach in this crazy college admissions industry. The unfair stress on kids, the insane antics of desperate parents and the toxic collusion of privilege and education.

Living in affluent Laguna Beach, California, the last 23 years, where several of the 33 parents charged in this scandal are from, I’ve worked with my share of oblivious, entitled parents. Most of the mothers and fathers, however, were good people trying to do what they thought best for their kids and I tried to give attention to them.

When I learned about this scandal, and the sleazy college admissions counselor from nearby Newport Beach who masterminded the whole scam, I seriously considered quitting my Essay Hell business. It was too hard to ignore the sullied admissions world. When anyone asked me what I did for a living, I was embarrassed to tell them. And still am. Maybe I could start a dog-walking service or drive school bus.

In the decade I have worked with students and others on these essays, I tried to stay outside the admissions frenzy and resisted the networking scene among the related industry ‘players.’ I stuck to dealing with individual students, and coaching groups of teachers, counselors and others so they could help students learn how to write essays that were effective and meaningful. And also become better writers in the process! How could that be a bad thing?

My goal was to empower students with specific writing techniques and tips so they could find their unique stories and tell them in an engaging and meaningful narrative style. I did not try to game the system, or encourage gimmicks or shortcuts. And of course never composed essays for students. (I know, I sound defensive. Guess I am a bit.)

Based on the feedback from students, parents and others over the years, most of those who did the hard work composed outstanding essays and got into terrific schools. No cheating. No influencers. No bribes. ( As far as I know. Sheesh!)

In the past, I charged a bundle for private hour-long tutoring sessions. I justified it because I’m good at what I do, have a lot of professional experience and thought my fees should reflect my value.

But charging you $200 an hour for one-on-one coaching did put me in the hot seat of giving many privileged students and families an edge in the admissions game. No denying that.

So I’m done with that for the time being. Now I’m in the process of revamping my services to ensure that I’m able to make my tutoring more accessible and feasible to all students. And I believe they can be equally effective and helpful.

The New Plan: Affordable (and FREE!) Webinars!

Here’s my plan. I’m still offering in-person and online essay-writing training workshops to groups of teachers, counselors and students. But forget about private sessions, at least for now. And I intend to only offer editing services to students who start with my Jumpstart webinars and so are on the right track from the get-go. (I believe that prevents too much intervention on my part, to keep it fair.)

Instead, I’m planning to offer my college application essay writing instruction and advice through group workshops online (webinars via YouTube Live) and keep them relatively cheap and simple. And I’m offering both my Jumpstart webinars FREE to those who can’t afford them.

Starting soon (June 15 first one!), I will offer hourlong online Webinar Jumpstart sessions. They will cost $30 each.

All webinars will also feature access to my popular online College Application Essay Writing Course, which has 11 videos, handouts and ALL my essay writing guides on it (Escape Essay Hell and Heavenly Essays). This will be FREE (currently charge $99 just for the course!)

At first, these online workshops (webinars) will feature my trademark Jumpstart process, where I quickly help students understand what makes a great essay, and then step them through a step-by-step brainstorming process to identify killer topics, as well as how to structure their drafts. The idea is to help you get launched!

As summer gets rolling into fall, I will offer other follow-up workshops topics, such as How to Write the University of California Essays, How to Write the most frequent Supplemental Essays, just how to Self Edit and Bump Up Essays, etc.

If this works out, I like to think that any or all students can get plenty of great inspiration and direction on how to write their essays ALL of them for around $100 or less. Some might only need one workshop, and they are off.

I also am offering my webinars, and the included online writing bootcamp (that includes my writing guides), FREE to all students who are underprivileged or underserved, as well as teachers, counselors, parents and others who use them. Just email me and let me know your name, school, city/state, and background: EssayHell@gmail.com. I will send you the 100-percent-off discount code to purchase a webinar.

I would love to hear from you if my new approach sounds fair and a good way to get help on these essays. You can also put together your own group for a custom webinar if these dates don’t work for you. Please leave remarks, ideas and questions in the comment section below. Or email me directly at: EssayHell@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading this. I hope I don’t sound like a martyr or that I’m wanting praise for these changes. They are mainly so that I feel good about what I’m doing, and thought I would try to explain the reason behind them.

So stay tuned!

Don’t worry about your essays and your future! You got this! And I hope I get the opportunity to help you.

Sule
Sule
Warje
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