Advice for Completing the University of California Activities & Awards Section

For those of you applying to the University of California (UC), completing the Activities & Awards section can require several hours of brainstorming, drafting and editing, over multiple drafts.  Thus, many teens will postpone drafting the detailed descriptions or conversely they may focus on drafting the descriptions, postponing their essay writing.  To balance the work of both drafting the PIQ…

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Do’s & Don’ts of Answering UC Personal Insight Question #7

Serving others, suppressing our innate self-centered human tendency, can be a valuable lesson in generosity, the equanimity of humanity, and even in reverse, a confidence in oneself as a valuable member of society.  In the race for the most elite college admissions, often many students have added (or been compelled by assignment and the chase for grades) volunteer work to…

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Comic: I'm more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles

Reason #450,897,354 Why Writing College Essays Is Complicated

Every year, especially in mid-October, college and transfer applicants share some version of the following:  “I can’t get all my thoughts to focus on one idea.”  “I’ve written several different paragraphs, but they don’t connect with each other.”  “I have too much to say, how can I incorporate every idea into one essay?!?” Students often attempt to write their autobiography,…

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Adverb Abuse

Teenage authors often punctuate their sentences with “very” and “really”, exaggerating the experience being described, which actually dilutes the meaning of their experience. For example, I really enjoy reading books. Does “really” add value to the student’s enjoyment? Or do you, as the reader, become suspect (even subconsciously) of the writer’s enjoyment of reading, exaggerate the value of reading?  Any…

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The Most Essential Interview

To effectively brainstorm topics for college essays, students must be interviewed by an experienced advisor, who not only knows the college admissions process, but applies their experience within the context of an anxious teenager seeking to define their life’s vision.  When teens query themselves in some me-talking-with-me, thinking exercise, they will unwittingly dismiss ideas, not connect one event to the…

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College Admissions Storytelling Time is Upon Us

Applying to college is complicated. Many believe their past laurels will merit an acceptance letter, yet often fret about distinguishing themselves from other similarly qualified candidates. Thus, when all the boxes of biographical information are completed, the heavy lifting of answering, “Who am I?” in 500 words or less begins. Yet, for many teens, self-reflection is a muscle they may…

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So, you say you’re done, ay?

In the academic meritocratic realm of teenage braggadocio, everyone’s been done with their college essays, except you. At least, that’s what nearly every college applicant believes about their friends, peers, frenemies, academic archrivals—only adding stress to an already complicated self-reflective, autobiographical writing process.  Yet, The Common Application’s own statistics about the daily record applicant submissions on November 1, the day…

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GIFF: Spongebob Prepare to Be written

College Admissions Essay: A Clinic In Writer’s Block

It’s college essay writing season, which also means that each student is likely running into writer’s blocks. College admission essays fit into the genre of autobiographical, a writing style for which most students are inexperienced. Although, at times, paralyzing writer’s blocks can be resolved by applying the appropriate antidotes.  Thus, as many college applicant lack an experienced editor, I will…

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Comic: Phineas & Ferb

College Admissions Essay Writing, A Difficult but Rewarding Journey of Self Discovery

“You should definitely start writing your essays early” is common advice college students give to their high school senior friends. Yet, typically, the peer advisor shares little insight to why they started their essays “later” or how writer’s blocks stymied their own efforts in the beginning writing stages.  Thus, the college applicant simply stresses about being “behind” in completing applications,…

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Applying to College is Often A Long and Winding Road

Writing college essays is an intricate dance, often not a project that’s completed according to scheduled benchmarks and not without conflicts along the way. Often, applicants work in fits and starts, and typically, not in accordance with a parent’s expectations.  Seventeen years of expectations, emotions and experiences can obstruct the effort to draft autobiographical essays. Furthermore, teens are reflecting on…

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Sponge Bob comic

Supplemental Essays Matter: view from someone who matters, an admission officer

“A” students, who also happen to be college applicants, notoriously follow directions to the T. So, the lack of a rubric, standard, or other detailed set of directions for writing the college essays, beyond the confirmation bias of an acceptance letter is disconcerting to say the least.  Seeking to reduce confusion, the following is an analysis of Sam Prince’s, Bard…

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GIFF: Spongebob Prepare to Be written

College applicants take note: life’s a journey not a destination

College essays are not an assignment to “get done.”   College essays are not defined by the word count or format. College essays are not a resume-like listing of a young person’s achievements, hoping the admissions evaluator intuits their potential thus grants admissions. College essays are not bounded by the (mis)interpretation of a prompt.  College essays are not prose-like panderings to…

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Quote: Steve Jobs

The Responsibility of Freedom

Most teens eventually seek more independence from the watchful eyes of their parents, and many of them believe the freedom they so desire will be found attending college. Yet, just like Thomas Jefferson and the American Revolutionaries (or anyone seeking change), as so aptly advised:  Prudence, indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and…

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Sponge Bob comic

Advice on How to Answer COVID-Related Questions on College Applications

In the increasing subjectivity of admissions, as grades are affected by the transition to virtual learning and many extracurricular activities have been canceled or suspended until further notice, college admissions officers are seeking information about what students had planned, yet did instead.  Thus, students should reflect on their COVID-interrupted educational experience, to add context for their academic and extracurricular resumes…

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