Writing College Essays is NOT Rocket Science!

An Applicant Does Not Have to Be a Rocket Scientist!

Today is December 30, 2020, and there are just a few more days left to finalize college applications. How exciting!

As we live and breathe, students are staring at 15–20 college applications, and confronted with the daunting task of writing 2–3 required college essays per application. This adds up to a total of 60 essays.

CALM DOWN and BREATHE! You do not have to be a genius to write the college essay. #TRUE

Colleges Pose Similar Essay Prompts

Let’s face it kids, we are not reinventing the wheel with college essay prompts. At the end of the day, the wording of the essay questions may vary from college to college, however, the same question is being asked. #TRUE

Since we will not be reinventing the wheel, if an applicant applies to 20 colleges, 60 different essays need not be written. They just need to be ‘tweaked’ to conform to a specific college essay prompt.

Essay Prompt Examples from Duke University and Princeton University

Below are required essay prompts from both Duke and Princeton Admissions. Even though worded slightly differently, the essay prompts pose the same question to the applicant.

Duke University Undergraduate Admissions poses the following required essay prompt for all 2020–21 applicants: essay prompt: Please share with us why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular about Duke’s academic or other offerings that attract you? (200 words maximum).

Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions poses the following required essays prompts for A.B. Degree Applicants or Those Who are Undecided: As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in about 250 words.) Princeton poses the following required essay prompt for B.S.E. (‘Bachelor Science Engineering) Degree Applicants: Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in about 250 words.)

The general essay response would be the same to both colleges. However, each essay response would be tailored to the specific college academic program, courses, and campus community.

The Dean of Undergraduate Admissions is Your Audience

College essays are written for an audience of one person, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions.

The Essays are the vehicle to show your love for the college and is the student’s personal letter, albeit self-portrait to the Dean. In a meaningful, direct manner, an applicant must communicate to the Dean throughout the required and supplemental essays who they are as a person. The student must describe how participation in extraordinary activities created a unique person who overcame challenges to pursue innovative concepts and ideas that impacted their community and beyond.

The Essay is how an applicant shouts aloud to the Dean to #PICKME #COLLEGEACCEPTANCE!

College Essay Advisors

I always recommend high school students work with a college essay advisor. You do not have to be a genius to write a college essay, however, you need to know ‘how’ to write the essay. There is a certain way of writing the essays, to pique the attention of the Dean. The Advisor does not write the essay for the student but can provide priceless guidance as to how the essay should read to garner the attention of the Dean.

According to Lauren Chattman, an accomplished author, columnist, and college essay advisor, ‘essays are where the student is permitted to boast about themselves and their legitimate accomplishments to effectively increase their chances of admission to top institutions’. Chattman further states that “the key to successful college essays is where the student utilizes a specific writing style to sincerely convey in their own words why they are unique and how they would contribute to the Dean’s College Community.’

#WISEWORDS: Read the prompts and provide a response in your own words.

Even though New Year’s Eve is tomorrow, where are you going? We are still fighting COVID, so this is the time to focus on finalizing college applications. Check each college application deadline!!

For additional insight on the college admissions process, please check out my book on Amazon!

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