How To Tackle Common App Essays

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 1/1/16 10:00 AM

 Stephen King at his desk, writing away! 

While the Common App has streamlined the college application process significantly, the fact that the essays go to the majority of schools you are applying to gives them that much more importance. You don’t get another chance to refine an essay or make it better for another school, so your essays need to be strong from the start. They need to set you apart and prove to any admissions team, not just a particular one, that you would be an asset to their school. In this post I’m going to walk you through two 2015-2016 Common App essay prompts because despite wanting to be unique, there are some tips and tricks that will work across the board, no matter what message you are trying to convey in your essays.

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Tags: college admissions

Tackling the “Why Do You Want to Apply to This College” Admissions Essay

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 12/19/15 10:00 AM

The Common App has taken a huge amount of work off of your shoulders. Gone are the days of separate, specific essay questions and endlessly different applications. But, that also means that any opportunity to get more in-depth, specialized knowledge about your interests is going to be very valuable for admissions teams. It makes the “Why Do You Want To Apply To This College” essay very important.

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Tags: college admissions

What essays should I read to help me write a personal statement?

Posted by Adrienne Raphel on 9/21/15 10:00 AM

Who said writing your personal statement had to be boring?

When you’re writing your personal statement, you want to write in your own voice as honestly and clearly as possible. Of course you want to write a personal statement that will stand out from the pack, but you don’t want it to stand out for the wrong reasons: you still need to follow the rules of the form, but you don’t have to forget how to have fun and be yourself.

Here's how you can write a personal statement while having fun!

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Tags: college admissions

What Books Should I Read To Help Me Write my College Personal Statement?

Posted by Adrienne Raphel on 9/14/15 9:00 AM

You don't have to feel this way when writing your personal statement! 

What is a personal essay? What does a college personal statement sound like? You’ve looked at tons of sample personal statements, but none of them are particularly inspiring. How do you find your voice as a writer?

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Tags: college admissions, creative writing

Break Through Writer’s Block! Tips for Your College Admissions Essay

Posted by Jebediah Koogler on 9/2/15 11:00 AM

Not sure how to go about writing your college adissions essay?  Fear not!  We've all been there.

The college admissions essay is daunting. The possibility of writing about anything, and with the essay being such a central part of your application, can reduce even the most confident writer to a procrastinator of distinction. Regardless of the prompt you choose, the Common Application essay is a way for admissions committees to get a sense of who you are and what makes you tick. It therefore involves a fairly high level of introspection on one’s life and goals, and thus why it can be so hard to write. But breaking the writer’s block doesn’t need to be as hard as you think. The key to coming up with good ideas for a college essay which speaks to who you are as a candidate and as a person (which, ultimately, is what you want to do) is to structure the brainstorm around a few core questions.  

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Tags: college admissions, college

Choosing Colleges to Apply to: The Perfect List Is Not What You'd Expect

Posted by Adrienne Raphel on 8/24/15 11:00 AM

Follow our tips and you're sure to learn something about yourself!

When my brother and I were choosing colleges to apply to, we were similar candidates in many ways––comparable test scores, grades, and extracurriculars––but our college lists were starting to look very different. My brother’s schools skewed towards the larger end: he wanted a large research institution with a strong sports scene, and I wanted a smaller college with a tight-knit community. Eventually, he ended up at a small liberal arts college with no football team at all, and I ended up at a research institution. It turned out that they were perfect fits for both of us.

How did we go about choosing colleges to apply to that were actually right for us, not just the ones we thought we wanted? By finding our outliers.

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Tags: college admissions, college

Planning College Visits (Part 3 - On Campus Checklist)

Posted by Andrew Jungclaus on 7/24/15 9:00 AM


Fingers crossed for good weather. [Image source: Columbia University, where Andrew spends most of his time] 
This post is part of a 3 part series. Check out Part 1 on Getting Started, and Part 2 on Traveling Efficently. 

Once you’re finally on campus for the visit and information session, you may feel like the battle has already been won.  I see kids like that at Columbia every day – herds of sullen, blank-faced high school students shuffling from one academic hall to another.  Admittedly, it can be an overwhelming experience to start visiting these grand, bustling institutions.  But you need to remember that this is both your first glimpse at the school and its first look at you.  Try incorporating a few of the suggestions listed below to your next campus visit and see if it makes you feel – or at least seem – like the engaged, passionate, admissions candidate you want to be.

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Tags: college admissions

How to Plan Your College Visits: Getting Started

Posted by Andrew Jungclaus on 6/11/15 11:31 AM

Rory from Gilmore Girls visits Yale. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have a grandpa alumni.

For all rising juniors and seniors, this is the season to take the first step in the college application process – planning your college visits. Remember, this is your first opportunity to examine a range of colleges and their first chance to get a look at you. It’s important to take a deep breath and think about your ideal college experience in fine grain. In this series, we’ll present some basic tips and tricks for making the most of your campus visits, including how to plan effectively and what to do once you get there.

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Tags: college admissions

What Should I Write My College Essay About?

Posted by Hana on 6/3/15 2:35 PM


Yes, let’s.

I’ve met all kinds of students over my years as a college essay tutor in NYC, but there has been one thing that almost all of them had in common: the hardest part of writing their college admissions essay was picking a topic. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Staring at a blinking cursor wondering how on earth you should represent yourself in 650 words or fewer can be absolutely paralyzing. Either you can’t choose which story to build your essay around, or you can’t think of a story at all! So today, I’d like to introduce some of the methods that have helped my college application coaching students make a productive dent in the blank page. 

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Tags: college admissions

How to Build a Career Around Helping People

Posted by Anahid Modrek on 5/1/15 10:30 AM

What does the fox say?

More often than not, young adolescents, and even established adults, find themselves torn when committing to a specific career path, especially one as expensive and arduous as higher education. This is a common dilemma which can be experienced during any stage of career development – a high school student working with an admissions consultant on what college to apply early decision to, an undergraduate struggling to pick a major, or an adult in the labor market looking to get back into school and applying to a graduate program.

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Tags: college admissions