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Crafting Great College Application Essays

Crafting Great College Application Essays

Parents of high school seniors are easy to spot in January and February. They have a worried air about them, appear sleep deprived, and will correct your grammar compulsively. If you haven’t personally lived through the period in your high schooler’s life where they spend hours filling out college forms and writing inspiring personal essays, you might not sympathize, but believe me, your time is coming

The personal essay is one of the most important and challenging aspects of the whole college application process (although that FAFSA ranks up there too), because it must be technically perfect and self reflective. It must be written, edited, and then rewritten. Your student must be careful, too, to completely answer the essay question (which seems self evident, but isn’t always). Sometimes there is an added little phrase in a question, like "… and how did that change your way of thinking?" or "… how did that make you a whole person?" Not only should you answer the question perfectly, but you should also flat-out say, "… and the answer to your question is… " If part of the question includes "… how does that make you whole?" then somewhere in the essay your student should say, "I feel more whole when I’m singing because… "

Lastly, request some feedback from others. It really doesn’t matter whether they’re professional writers or not, just get their reaction. They also might notice errors that you don’t, because their eyes are not glazed over from reading the thing 20 times. Feel free to incorporate other people’s feedback, but make sure to keep the student’s ‘voice’ in the essay throughout, at all costs. This is their essay, and should be their effort throughout the process. Once you’ve sent it off, reward your student for their hard work, and a job well done!

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