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Luckily, this is a situation we’ve dealt with many times, and we’re able to talk both the parents and the student through any concerns.Writing a truly stand-out essay is a risk—because standing out is always a risk.
But what those concerns are really saying is, “this seems like a risk.” But your college essay should be a risk, to some extent.
Elite college admissions isn’t a matter of being generically good enough to avoid getting rejected—it’s about standing out enough to get accepted.
Ideally, they’ll also be mostly done with the supplemental essays for the schools on their list, but even getting that main essay out of the way puts them ahead of many of their peers and removes much of the stress and pressure that leads many students to spend senior fall stressing out over, and subsequently procrastinating on, their college essays.
It’s an incredible thing to see their relief and excitement when they realize they’re done with each stage—when they realize they have a great rough draft, when they realize they’re done writing, and when they realize they’re done editing and it’s finally under the 650-word limit.
August is when my team and I spend the most time working with our seniors on their college essays.
Our goal for all of them is to at least get the main Common App personal statement—the 650-word essay most people think of when they say “college essay”—over with before their senior year begins.The questions below provide you with the opportunity to tell us more about your abilities in academics, the arts, athletics, leadership, service, and other qualities you may possess.As part of the Common Application, you will be asked to write one essay between 250 and 650 words. You will be asked to write a response to your choice of one of the five prompts listed below.One of the best ways to demonstrate a growth mindset and low ego is to write an essay that shows your growth and isn’t afraid of mentioning times you weren’t perfect. It may seem like the best college essay would be about a major success—winning the big game, etc.—but the college essay can’t be the triumphant finale of a movie.People with growth mindsets are proudest of times they overcame challenges, while those with fixed mindsets tend to focus on times when something came easily to them. It has to be the whole film—we have to become invested in the character first before their victories mean anything to us, before we begin rooting for them.At the end of the day it’s far more risky to play it safe and risk not standing out at all.College essays are important to the admission process.This essay is designed to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely and help you set your application apart.In our supplemental scholarship section, you will be asked to answer the first two questions below.Unfortunately, often that moment is overshadowed when, the next morning, they say: “Hey, I showed my parents the essay and…” followed by something like, “now I’m not sure about it” or or “they don’t like the topic” or “they think it makes me sound immature/nerdy/flawed” or “they think I’m oversharing/too casual/not talking enough about my accomplishments.” Luckily, we’ve helped enough students succeed in their college applications to know how to interpret this: as a sign that the student’s essay is probably really good.Here’s why: With Top Schools, Risks Are Necessary The essays that get students into the most selective schools often raise concerns from parents, teachers, and other well-meaning people not well-versed in the current college admissions landscape (there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way—that’s what we’re here for).