Passive vs. Active Voice

College Essay Writing 101: Passive vs. Active Tense

High schoolers tend to write passive constructions in academic writing, often needing to fulfill assigned word counts requirements in order to earn the highest grade. Students can often dilute their intended meaning with verbosity.  Yet, for college essays, students need to write in an active tense, self-assured and self-aware, as they are essentially writing their…

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Support Those Living True

Surya, a former student, seeking to live authentically, is developing his latest film. View this post on Instagram A post shared by branded (@branded_film) Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students (re)discover their aptitude, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please…

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All About the College Essay

The college essay is autobiographical, not a typical academic writing exercise. However, most students have been trained to write academic assignments, according to a structured grading rubric aligned with the teacher’s expectations. However, crafting an autobiographical essay demands different skills and efforts, including a thorough examination of one’s life experiences. Then, students can effectively communicate…

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The Myth of the College List

Most families believe the college admissions process starts with picking colleges, then filling out applications, which includes writing college essays, then submit applications, then, wait for responses, then choose one college. However, the actual process of choosing and applying to college is much more intricate.  Often, parents are puzzled when their teenager seems overwhelmed or…

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Sponge Bob comic

Don’t Pay Attention to the College Essay Prompt

It’s a mistake to start the process of drafting college essays by choosing a prompt, then brainstorming ideas based on an interpretation of said prompt. By focusing too narrowly on writing exactly to the prompt, students can contort their own voice and write an essay that isn’t authentic. The Common Application Writing Section‘s directions specifically…

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"Who Am" I illustration by Creative Marbles Consultancy

Choosing College, Not Being Chosen

Students often wonder, “How will college admissions officers’ view this?” in reference to a grade, an extracurricular activity, or topics for college essays. In other words, teens worry about impressing admissions officers, or risk not being accepted to college. Amidst the competitiveness in education, students often search for the “right” combination of factors including: GPA,…

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A meditating frog

The First Writer’s Block in College Essay Writing: Getting Started

High school seniors and transfer students are often advised, “Start drafting your college essays early”, especially by students in the class ahead who recently completed their college applications. Yet, few will confess why they themselves did not start writing their essays early, nor the complexities of crafting one’s autobiography, which can include: Lack of experience…

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Student struggling to balance her options

“The (Omnipresent) College Admissions Filter”

High school students often develop a seeming “college admissions filter”, assessing any experience (or potential experience) through “How will this help me with being admitted to college?” Many may be frustrated at such consideration, yet in my experience, such a mindset seems pervasive amongst teens.  Today’s high school students have heard messages like, “When you…

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Why Engage an Educational Consultant in the Age of AI?

Educational consultants are valuable guides, offering personalized advice for both parents and students. By understanding each client’s unique educational goals, consultants distill the deluge of internet-available information and wide-ranging “advice” from other parents (both IRL and virtually) into practical recommendations. Then families can make informed choices that contribute to their children’s success. Moreover, life rarely…

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Uneven Pavement Ahead

A Parent’s Guide: Supporting A Rising Senior during the College Admissions Process

Amidst the stress of the college admissions process, parents may be inclined to dive into college applications and essays, while teenagers may display disinterest or hesitation, leading to conflicts. As a parent, it is important to pause and reflect on how your teenager reacts in stressful situations and what forms of support have been effective…

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to do list

Where do I start the process of applying to college?

While making a list of colleges is essential in the college application process, without knowing oneself and why one seeks a college experience, then generating a list may not be the most effective first step.  Instead, rising seniors and transfer applicants on the cusp of applying to college can:  1. Engage rigorous self-reflection: Preferably in…

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Seeking Scholarship Monies Can Be Trickier Than You Think

Many parents believe the greatest hurdle to applying for college scholarships is finding scholarships. Nope. Not by a longshot. For many seniors, the motivation to write one more autobiographical essay for a scholarship application is the largest impediment.  For one, many are depleted of energy after writing a dozen (or more) college essays over the…

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University of Southern California’s First Early Action Results

On Friday, January 20, 2023, according to a newsletter sent to counselors, the University of Southern California (USC) admissions officers admitted its first ever class of approximately 2400 Early Action candidates, a 5.9% admit rate.  40,600 first year applicants requested admissions by the November 1, 2022 Early Action deadline, which was also the deadline for…

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Parent and child discussing what inspires a student to write

The Sentiments of High School Seniors 72 Hours From A College Application Deadline

Thus, possibly for their parents… May students’ fingers be swift, memory banks quick to recall significant life-shaping experiences, and word snipping their quintessential memoirs to just 250 words be effortless. And, may all parents be assured that if servers crash, admissions officers (within hours) extend deadlines, and trust that their children’s efforts (be it last…

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