1 05, 2017

Applying To An Ivy League College? The Top 5 Books I Recommend!

By |2022-09-13T15:26:16-04:00May 1st, 2017|Brown, college, College Admissions, Columbia, Common App, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League College, Princeton, Stanford, UPenn, Yale|0 Comments

Applying To An Ivy League College? The Top 5 Books I Recommend!

Applying to an Ivy League college this year?  Good.  Now let’s actually see if you’re competitive for the schools you’re targeting.

Did well in high school?  Check.  Strongly involved in your extracurriculars?  Check. Aced your AP exams, and scored pretty high on your SAT / ACT  and are in an IB program (if your school offers one)? Triple check.

More than likely if you fit the above, then you probably have at least some aspirations to get in to an Ivy League college.  Maybe you’re not sure you’ll get in, but you definitely have the hope.  The dream.  If only you could MAXIMIZE your chances.  If you only knew what you could possibly do to just push your Ivy League college application and essays just a little bit more, so you can secure that acceptance.

But where is this secret knowledge???   Who has this secret insider information?! How can you find out EXACTLY what else you can possibly do, sit down this year to apply to your list of schools?

Read.  That’s my answer, to parents and students alike.  Read the right books. Find out all you can from the right people. The ones who have credentials. Research the right information.

As a former Harvard admissions interviewer + Harvard grad, I know what it takes to successfully apply to an Ivy League college. The following books are the top 5 books in their field, and 5 of my favorites, which give you many, many examples of what a successful Harvard, Yale, Princeton or  Stanford college application essay actually looks like — and there are lots of examples within these books from which to access and learn.

The important thing to remember though, is that while I do recommend reading these books, in the end, you need to read and then DIVERT from what you just read.

In other words, you need to be unique in your own approach.  An individual in terms of what YOU decide to talk about in your essay and reveal.

Because, believe me, the admissions officers at all of the top schools are aware that these books are out there, and they are not only familiar with the essays these books contain, but they are REALLY familiar.

You must make your college application essays DIFFERENT, both in structure and certainly content, but that said, understanding what exactly makes a strong (i.e. successful) Ivy League admissions essay, can be a very powerful first step towards your  college and Ivy League application success!

So, with no more delay, the following are the top 5 books I recommend all rising college seniors read, or at least flip through, as they begin their college application process:

Click on the books themselves for the larger links. And, the winners of this year’s recommended Ivy League College Admissions books are:

Book #1:

 

Book #2:

Book #3:

Book #4:

And, Book #5:

Remember, these books are just a jumping off place.  A starting spot.  In the end, you need to find what exactly makes you stand out on your own, and what makes YOU unusual and unique.

Try to think about what makes a college admissions officer want to say, “Wow, this student BELONGS here, and I would hate to lose him or her to another rival Ivy League school.”

 See, each school wants the next generation’s leaders and visionaries to be associated with their university. So, take my advice, read some books, and let that future be YOU.

Also, check out some of my other helpful Ivy League college admissions tips and advice to help you get into the Ivy League, such as “How To Get into Harvard”
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I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard grad, and currently run the Ivy League college admissions firm: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com.  Contact me today for a free consultation and get into the school of your dreams!
9 06, 2016

How to Improve Your Ivy League College Application

By |2019-11-18T10:41:31-05:00June 9th, 2016|Berkeley, Brown, College Admissions, Common App, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League Advice, Ivy League College, Michigan, MIT, NYU, Princeton, UCLA, UPenn, Yale|0 Comments

If you’re applying to an Ivy League college you already know that high grades, tons of AP classes, stellar SAT scores, unique extracurriculars, and fantastic teacher recs can all play a role in your application and acceptance to some of the most prestigious colleges in America.

The following are top ten tips though that you may not have thought of that when, combined with the standard qualifications above (i.e. stellar GPA, etc), can actually serve to help you get in!

  1. Social Media:  Schools check.  So, that said, you want to make sure that there is nothing crude or lewd on your facebook page and you’re not making extreme non-pc comments all over twitter.  It’s okay to show yourself having fun with your friends, and you certainly don’t have to show yourself as 100% scholarly and serious (it is a social outlet, after all), and you’re even allowed to have an opinion that maybe other people don’t necessarily agree with, but just keep in mind that the college admission officers are trying to get a sneak peak and quick overview of who you might be online. If you think your fb page shows you as an all around great person with dedicated intellectual and creative interests and great humanitarian projects under your belt (and on your page) then let them look.  It could help you.  More often than not though, it won’t.  Personally, I’d set my fb page to private right now to block anyone who isn’t a known friend. After all, why take the risk?
  2. Send your interviewer a thank you email: This is another tip that some might think of, and some won’t.  Sending a very BRIEF thank you, if you do in fact have your interviewer’s email address (some schools do not make this available) this is a sign of having good manners, which translates into a sign of strong upbringing and class.  The Ivy League especially is deciding whether you fit into their school culture, not only if you have the grades to succeed.  Sending a thank you (just 2-3 sentences at most- don’t go longer) can leave a positive impression in your interviewer’s eyes, and that translates to a positive feeling when they sit down to report on their interview with you, that can help to get you in!
  3. Mention legacy:  Do you have a family member who went to the school?  If not that that particular college, did they go to another college within the Ivy League.  If so, mention it.  Don’t feel like you’re bragging.  The Ivy League universities value “legacies” highly, so even though it’s usually a question on the application, mention it during your college interview, as well. The Ivy League in particular loves tradition and preserving and honoring family lines.  If your mom went to Columbia and your dad is a Harvard grad = mention it.  Believe me, it will help.
  4. Mention 1st Generation: As an alternative to the above, perhaps you’re the first one in your family to ever even go to college!  If this is you, don’t worry, MENTION IT – somewhere in your essays.  Again, this will only help you.
  5. Are you a twin? Yes, I know this one isn’t going to apply to most people, but it’s worth mentioning. The Ivy League in particular loves admitting twins who are equally ambitious and have the required credentials.  So, if you’re a twin – identically or fraternal – this should be everywhere in your college essays, and specifically at least mentioned in you Common App.   The colleges like anything and everything that makes you unique, and having a twin or sibling that is going to be in the same incoming calls puts you in that “special and unique” category, especially if you’re special and unique and can stand out in others areas, as well!

Those are just a few helpful tips that you might not find elsewhere regarding how to make your college applications, and especially your Ivy League college applications stand out even more.

Stay tuned in the coming days for even more, and check out my other Ivy League Essay articles here! https://ivycollegeess.wpengine.com/2016/06/23/how-to-prepare-your-kid-for-an-ivy-league-college-education/

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the Ivy League Essay college admissions firm: www.IVY COLLEGE ESSAY.com  Check out my website or send me an email: IvyLeagueEssayInfo@gmail.com, and request a free consultation today!]

 

8 05, 2016

How Do Prep Schools Groom Students for the Ivy League?

By |2019-12-01T14:03:35-05:00May 8th, 2016|College Admissions, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League College, Princeton, UPenn, Yale|0 Comments

Applying to college and ever asked yourself this question?  Let me provide an answer:

Since the prep schools are usually extremely well financially endowed they, first of all, have a very large assortment of AP classes available to their students (more than usually offered at a public school).  The more AP classes you take, the more qualified the Ivy League schools see your candidacy.

The prep schools also have teachers and guidance counselors who, more than likely, are Ivy League graduates themselves and so know what is required in terms of achievements and classes, and try to guide and mentor their students accordingly.

Prep  schools also usually have MUCH smaller classes, which means the teachers really get to know their six students, for example.  Think about the difference that could make when writing a recommendation letter = having SIX students you know well who are applying to college, versus 30 in a class.  That’s part of the difference.

Furthermore, the schools themselves, especially if you’re talking about the elite prep boarding schools in New England, or the top private schools in NYC, have intense admissions criteria themselves, that ensure that only the top students who apply are even offered this “best-of-the-best” opportunity.

The prep schools themselves also are usually very active in extracurricular sports and activities (sometimes at the Olympic level) that bring recognition to the school nationally.

Then there’s the fact that the admissions officers at Ivy League schools have come to know that any student who went to such-and-such academy is going to be a likely candidate for the Ivy League, otherwise they never would have gotten in to their current prep school.  This makes the admissions committee’s job easier, as they see a student from that school and they immediately go to the top of the pile for serious consideration.

Schools like Harvard and Princeton and Yale also maintain close relationships with guidance counselors at the top prep schools and basically recruit there.

I, myself, though got into Harvard from a public school!  It is possible and a lot of my friends at Harvard went to public school, too.

Hope that helps!

[I’m a former Harvard admissions officer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the Ivy League admissions firm www.IvyCollegeEssay.com  Contact me today for a free consultation, and  get into the Ivy League!

7 05, 2016

What Each Ivy League College is Known For

By |2022-09-17T14:14:57-04:00May 7th, 2016|Brown, College Admissions, Columbia, Common App, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League College, UPenn, Yale|3 Comments

What Each Ivy League College Is Known For

Each Ivy League university has its own niche, it’s own “brand”:

In other words, each Ivy League university is known for certain things in terms of reputation. Understanding this in regard to college admissions, and Ivy League university admissions in general, is important.  This knowledge lets you target which school is the best fit for you, as well as which college is actually where you become the best fit for THEM.

This is only going to increase your chances of getting accepted.

The following list is a very brief compilation listing each Ivy League university, and what specific programs or majors they are best known for around the world!

Allow me to add as well, that all 8 of the Ivy League colleges mentioned here, as well as the ones I classify as “Ivy League competitive schools” like Stanford or MIT,  are all excellent universities. They truly do offer an extensive, wide-reaching, liberal arts education that will leave you extremely well-educated and intellectually respected for your college degree around the globe.

In other words, you can’t go wrong with any school in the Ivy League.

However, knowing what each Ivy university is known for, will give you an advantage.  Some of the schools are known for certain specialties more so than the others, and if you pay attention to that fact, you will have a better chance of receiving that acceptance letter and finding a better intellectual  and cultural fit.

And so, without further adieu…

WHAT EACH IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE IS KNOWN FOR:


1. Yale is known for turning out dramatists, poets, and CIA officers (government and international relations).


2. Harvard is Harvard (also strong in government, engineering, philosophy, languages)

3. Princeton is known for mathematics and physics (Einstein used to teach there).

4. Brown is known for its creativity and artist types (including poets, writers and playwrights)

5. UPenn is known for its proximity to the Wharton school and hence, business and finance.

6. Cornell is known as one of the easier Ivy Leagues to get into and has a strong business/hospitality school link via its grad program.

7. Columbia is known for literature, religion, psychology, languages and its proximity to Wall Street.

8. Dartmouth is known for liberal arts majors, as well as those wanting to get into the Tuck school of business post-graduation.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, you also have what I call “Ivy-like” schools, or “Ivy Equivalent” by which I mean, the schools’ level of difficulty and competition in terms of getting in. Here, I include schools like:
  1. MIT (obviously known for science, math, computer science  and engineering),
  2. Stanford (look up it’s proximity to Silicon Valley and it’s niche for business),
  3. Duke and Johns Hopkins (both famous for their medical school and thereby pre-med programs).

So, there you have it! 

Just a sample list of the Ivy League universities that tell you which college you might want to target if you’re looking at the Ivy League for this coming admissions cycle.

Understanding what I’ve listed here, and then tailoring your applications appropriately when making your school selection list, can truly make all the difference. Especially when choosing which school to apply to for Early Decision.

Need more free admissions tips and advice?  Check out my award-winning Ivy League college admissions blog for more on how to get in to an Ivy League university — and, if you’re thinking about Early Decision (HINT: you should be!)  then you may also like my article: Early Decision: Choosing the Right Ivy League College

You can also join my Ivy League college admissions discussion on Reddit at: https://www.reddit.com/r/ivyleaguecollege/

I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate and currently run the Ivy League college admissions firm: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com. 

Contact me today for a free consultation, and get into the school of your dreams!

7 12, 2015

Do You Need to Know Your Major When Applying to College?

By |2019-12-01T14:09:25-05:00December 7th, 2015|Harvard, Ivy League Advice, Princeton, Yale|1 Comment

It’s a legitimate question: do you need to know what you want to major in before applying to college?  It’s a question many high school seniors have on their mind this time of year as college admission deadlines approach, especially if you’re a student applying to the most competitive Ivy League Colleges.

So, how strongly do you really need to know  what you want to major in and/or possibly do for a living while you’re still just a senior in high school?  After all, isn’t that what college is all about?  To expose oneself to all kinds of different academic fields, intellectual interests and possibilities.  What if you really don’t know what you might want to do for a living down the road, or even next week?  In other words, what if you’re working on your college admission essays and applications, and you really have no idea what you might be interested in at all.  You’re an excellent student, you have strong grades, strong test scores, great extracurriculars, your teachers love you, and you express yourself well in writing (via your college admission essays) so…is not knowing your potential major really going to be a problem?

My answer is this:  yes. Colleges like to see some kind of direction, again  especially when talking about the more competitive programs like the Ivy League.  The strongest college applicants are those who know what they’re interested in and the path they want to pursue – think of someone who has known they wanted to be a doctor since they were five, a classical musician who has been practicing their whole life, or a high school student who has always been actively building things and working on the latest technology, knowing she has always wanted to be an engineer.

Everyone understands that interests change and people grow intellectually, especially young people when exposed to all the new ideas on experiences their first college year, but when talking about straight college admissions facts and advice, I will say that the stronger college applicants have both a passion that’s reflected in their academic pursuits and interests, and an intense drive that – even if it changes – at least points them in a very  focused direction, so they can speak with conviction in their college applications and interviews and at least start make a case for what they *might* want to do even if it changes down the road.

It is always better to present yourself as someone who has focus and drive and confidence than someone who is all over the place and unsure of who they are and where they’re going, at least at this moment in time.  You come across much stronger if you pick something and build your essays and interests around that idea.  It really shows a level of confidence, and confidence is what college admissions officers like.

Once you have your major, make sure it fits with the rest of your application.  Do your extracurriculars fit with your interest?  Does your summer work experience?  What about your achievements and awards?  The strong college applications are those which present a strong and unified story.

 Again, college admissions officers know that many students  don’t know what they want to do, but even if you’re undecided, your strongest bet is to pick something even if you change you mind down the road.

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the New York based Ivy League College admissions firm: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com  Contact me today for a free initial consultation and get into the school of your dreams!}

5 06, 2015

Applying to an Ivy League College? Common App Essay Advice from a Former Harvard Interviewer!

By |2019-01-03T18:53:04-05:00June 5th, 2015|Brown, College Admissions, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Ivy League, Princeton, UPenn, Yale|1 Comment

1. What are some of the common misconceptions/mistakes you see regarding students’ Common App essays? Do you have any general advice for the Common App?

The biggest mistake I see students repeatedly make with the Common App, is not understanding what makes them unique. Schools are looking for “original thinkers”…. “original doers” and in your Common App you want to show off just what makes you different from your peers. It may be something you don’t even realize, or pay much attention to, so look for it!

I had one student for example, who had spent her life studying ballet at a very high artistic level, where she was even asked to join a big city ballet company as an apprentice, and yet she didn’t think this was something worth mentioning, and instead wrote her essay on a science fair she participated in (wrong approach). Another student of mine had had an extremely interesting life growing up in a town where he and his brother were the only Jewish kids in their entire school system in the rural South. He (again, wrong approach) wrote about going on a summer trip to Mexico with his high school class. WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING UNUSUAL! The most unusual experience, or fact, or interest in your life that you can think of. Done well, that is what will get you in.

 

  1. Social media is a boon for some students and a bane for others. Does Harvard search up students’ social media profiles during the admissions process?

 I actually was an admissions interviewer for Harvard before social media was so prevalent, so can’t officially answer this question on Harvard’s behalf. However, as a general rule, if an admissions committee is very interested in someone, or if they’re on the fence about a candidate, they will sometimes google the student to see what comes up, and this includes more often than not, facebook profiles. It simply helps to put a face with a name in most cases, and that is really often all they are looking at, just trying to get a “feel” for the applicant, but whether admissions officers will admit to this practice or not, is debatable. Again, wasn’t around as an option 15 years ago!

  1. What advice would you give to students who want to succeed in an admissions interview?

 I actually offer free interview prep for all the students who work with me on their applications, at no extra charge. We go in-depth into what they can expect, how to prepare, how to present themselves, but in general, the overriding action needs to be: confidence. No matter what you say, it is going to be more important how you say it. Again, this is something I work on with my clients more specifically.

4. Some students I know are self-studying for AP exams in subjects that aren’t offered at their schools, and not taking the actual class itself. Is this a good idea?

 It is a good idea if they can do it well, and score well on the exam. By “well,” I mean achieve a 4 or a 5. Preferably a 5. Anything less and I would not report. I would also consider enrolling in a community college class if the student’s school doesn’t offer a particular AP that they’re interested in, as the admissions committee will be impressed that they had the ambition and drive to branch out and education themselves on their own, outside their immediate resources.

 5. Are some majors harder to get into compared to other majors at Harvard?

Not if you can demonstrate “original thought” in terms of why a particular major is right for you, why a particular interest stems out, and can be backed up by, your own unique experience. Saying, “I want to be a Biology major, so I can be pre-med” or, “I want to major in Economics so I can get my MBA and eventually work on Wall Street” isn’t going to get you in, unless that uniqueness in terms of your background and experience can shine through.

So, in that regard, saying you want to major in Latin, because you are very interested in expanding your already ongoing research in ancient Catholic cryptology, and have already published papers on the topic in some well-read Vatican journals…is going to give you a better chance than the pre-med student above, but it all depends on you and, again, what makes you uniquely interesting in your major of choice.

6. What general advice would you recommend to students who have been waitlisted, or students who are appealing their decision?

First, I have known both clients and friends who were waitlisted and then got in at the very last minutes, so there is always hope! The best thing you can do, is follow the school’s instructions and submit any additional materials IF REQUESTED. If nothing is requested, than you simply have to wait it out, also knowing that you could consider transferring after your first year elsewhere if you truly wanted to try to get into that particular school.

  1. What are the main qualities Harvard wants to see in extracurricular activities?

Again, uniqueness! I can’t stress this enough. Everyone who applies to Harvard is President of some school club, ether plays the piano or the violin (at an extremely exceptional level), and/or is on the swim team or math team (take your pick). Everyone also volunteers and “gives back.” It’s all the same.

What they’re looking for though, once again, is originality.   What do you do with your time that’s unique? What do you do with your time that’s already at an adult level? Find what makes you different and emphasize it throughout your college application…especially if you are applying to the Ivy League. These schools pride themselves on creating an “interesting” class. A class where you look at the person next to you and think, “wow, that’s really cool.” Be that person and you add to the school’s diversity. That is what will get you in, on top of already having the excellent scores and grades.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer, and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the Ivy League Admissions Consulting Firm: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com. I work with students all over the world. Contact me for a free consultation today!]

 

 

 

 

23 02, 2015

Thinking About Transferring to Another College? What You Need to Know…

By |2015-02-23T18:50:05-05:00February 23rd, 2015|Berkeley, Boston University, Brown, College Admissions, Columbia, Common App, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Ivy League, Michigan, MIT, NYU, Princeton, Standford, UCLA, UGA, UPenn, Yale|0 Comments

Deciding to transfer schools is a big decision when you’re in college.  Whether you’re in your first or second year, transferring will entail making new friends, living most likely in a new city, and making sure that your current credits transfer to make it all worth your while.

That said, there’s a lot that can come out of transferring, especially if you truly don’t like your current school.  I fully believe that there is no reason to stay somewhere you don’t like once you have given it a good try.  Instead you should try to salvage what you can of your college career, pick yourself up and find a better place, so you can still have great memories, great friends, and (most importantly to the admissions committee) a much better academic experience that better aligns with your goals.

And, that’s where I will start:  What You Really Need To Know For a Great College Transfer Application.

1. You need to make it about the academics

Colleges understand that perhaps you don’t have any friends, or just don’t feel “connected” at your current school.  Maybe you’re going to a community college and want to go to a 4-year program, or maybe you just want OUT, anywhere that isn’t where you are, or perhaps anywhere not so close to home.

Whatever your reasons, what you tell the college admissions committee needs to focus on your ACADEMIC reasons for transferring, and not your social ones.  Successful applicants always have an academic reason for wanting to go elsewhere.  For example, perhaps you can’t major in Biophysics where you are, because your school just doesn’t offer that major, and would therefore have to settle for a more general degree in Biology, which will limit what you really want to be studying.

Or, perhaps there is a professor at another school who is doing research on EXACTLY the topic and speciality you’re interested in, and that’s why you “need” to transfer in order to take advantage of the best opportunity you can.

Perhaps it makes more sense if you want to study economics to be in a big financial capital like New York, or perhaps you’re an English major but really want to be a Journalism major, and your school “just doesn’t offer that.”

Those are the reasons that will get you in: something ACADEMIC that is logical and makes sense.  Basically, you want the admissions committee to read your essays and say, “yes, that is a very logical and appropriate reason for wanting to transfer.”  It’s that response that will get you in.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard grad.  I currently run the college admissions consulting firm: www.IvyLeagueEssay.com  Looking to transfer colleges?  Contact me for a free consultation today!]

2 10, 2014

Common App College Essay Prompts and How to Master Them for Your Ivy League Application!

By |2019-11-15T12:06:18-05:00October 2nd, 2014|Brown, College Admissions, Columbia, Common App, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Ivy League|1 Comment

So, it’s official.  You’ve decided it’s time to start working on your Common App. Good for you!  Great even.  You’re not procrastinating!  That is, until you looked at the prompts and thought, “I have absolutely NO IDEA what to say, let alone guess what the colleges are even looking for.”  This thought perhaps made you panicked, sick, ill, malaised (i.e. good SAT word, write it down), and forced you to have visions of working at a donut shop for the rest of your life, (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Perhaps you had plans though of potentially setting off for Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or some other picturesque U.S. school to watch football games, meet great life-long friends, STUDY and get an excellent education, and just do something incredibly solid and interesting with your life…but then messed it all up with the Common App and destroyed the dream.  Done.  OVER.  Donut?

Well, stop worrying.  We’re going to go through the prompts one by one, and if you take away my key points from each of the questions, you’re going to do more than fine.

Prompt #1Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

This essay is a great chance to show your uniqueness, your individuality, what makes you different, and college admissions officers LOVE different.  Did you hear that? They read so many applications, that they truly gravitate towards those students who are unique and stand out.  So, do you have something unique in your background?  Have you done something unusual?  Is there something different about your family that makes you interesting?  Here is where you write about what makes you different from others in your school. What does make you different from your friends.   Remember, different = interesting.

PROMPT #2: Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

Make sure you answer each of the questions stated in this prompt and you’ll do fine.  Mostly though, you want to pick a negative experience (a “failure”) that then has a positive spin — that shows your self-reflection and ability to pick yourself up and move forward stronger than before!  This essay is a good choice if STRENGTH and FORTITUDE are two of your major traits.

PROMPT #3: Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

This essay is here to show your character.  What are you passionate about?  What are you willing to stand up for, even in the face of adversity? As with prompt #2, make sure you address all of the questions within the question – that is part of what you are being tested on.  This essay is a good choice if you have very strong morals and values and are willing to make a public stand.  Always be aware of your audience though, and take into consideration how things will be perceived by the admissions committee.  In other words, choose your battles wisely.

PROMPT #4: Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

I like this essay, as it is the most creative.  Again, make sure you address all three points, and focus equally on description as well as self-reflection: why this is meaningful to YOU.  I’ve read very lyrical essays that describe a place, only to not understand its significance for the student.  Similarly, I’ve read very factual essays for this prompt that have no description or emotional feeling or language. Balance both, and do it in a creative way, and you’ll win by giving your reader insight into your world.

PROMPT #5: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

What the admissions committee is looking for here, is growth. Your growth.  That moment when your world changed.  Pick an event that clearly shows how you were before, and then how you were different after.  Again, as with the other essays, they are looking for self-reflection.  This essay also allows for a lot of creativity and I have found sometimes the smaller, less formal and more personal events or moments in life make for the best, most moving essays – and that advice goes for all of the prompts, above.

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the college admissions firm IVY COLLEGE ESSAY.com.  Like more help on your Common App or college applications? Contact me for a free consultation today!  www.IvyCollegeEssay.com ]

21 09, 2014

The Common App: How to Write a Great College Application

By |2022-09-17T23:25:21-04:00September 21st, 2014|Berekeley, Brown, college, College Admissions, Columbia, Common App, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Ivy League, Ivy League Advice, Ivy League College, MIT, NYU, Princeton, Standford, Stanford, UCLA, UPenn, Yale|3 Comments

The Common App Essay

How to Write a Great College Application!

The season is upon us: college applications, and right now is a good time to start working on your Common App.  You’re a month into the new school year, you’ve settled in, and now the Common App essay is staring you in the face.

Where do you begin?  You know you have to start writing it…but HOW?

You try to forget about it, but you can’t.  How can you write the absolutely best college admission essays possible when you have no idea what to write about or where to begin??

Similarly, neither do you know what the college admission committee is even looking for, nor what will make a really strong college essay and application.  This holds true for all colleges and universities, but ESPECIALLY if you’re applying to the Ivy League.

Oh yeah, and did I mention your entire future appears to depend on this?

Don’t worry though, because I am going to walk you through the process.

I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer + Harvard grad, and I know how to do this well.  I’m going to tell you how you can master the Common App essay and application and make the most of your college applications.

To be more to the point, I’m going to help you get into the best schools possible.

This includes the Ivy League: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, UPenn, and Cornell. The top. I mean, what if you want to go there?  How can you tackle the Common App and catapult your way to the apex of education?

Let’s start with the questions.  These are the choices for your Common App Essay:

  • Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Which one to choose, you say? Which one will be the best one to write about?  Here’s what I say:  go with the one that is going to contain the most EMOTION.  Emotion is powerful, good or bad, and the examples you choose, if they have a certain emotional weight to them when you think about it, that will add weight (and admissions committee engagement) to your essay.  In other words, emotion or powerful experiences (which is really what I mean) serves to ENGAGE your reader, and an engaged reader is going to not only remember your essay, but feel that you truly conveyed a mood, and environment, and an experience.

In other words, they will feel they got to know YOU just a little bit more than if you had written about something “less powerful” that didn’t engage.

Go with the powerful emotions.  The experiences and examples for any of the above, that convey some kind of emotion, and make you feel, because that is going to translate to your essay.

More tips and advice to come…

[I’m a former Harvard University admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate.  I currently run the College Admission Essay firm: IVY LEAGUE ESSAY, out of New York, and specialize in helping students get in to the top schools and the Ivy League.  Please contact me for a free phone consultation today: www.IvyCollegeEssay.com ]

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