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Win a Free College Essay Counseling Session

April 22, 2014

Bethel Teen Center - Pro Access

Join me on April 30 and you could win a free 45 college essay counseling session!

I’ll be leading a college application essay writing workshop on Wednesday, April 30 at 7pm at Pro Access, Bethel’s Teen Center, in Bethel Connecticut. And  I’ll be giving away one free 45 minute session.

During the program you will:

  • Find out what colleges look for in an application essay
  • Find out how to choose a good essay topic
  • Learn easy writing techniques that will help you capture your reader’s attention and make your essay interesting to read.

Then we will read actual college essays and discuss why they did and did not work.

Location: Pro Access, 1 School Street, Bethel, CT  (located in the back of the Municipal Center)
Fee: Free for Bethel residents; non-residents $10
RSVP
Necessary to: Hilda DeLucia at hilda@bethelproaccess.org or 203-482-1732

This program is perfect for high school sophomores and juniors and their families. I hope to see you on April 30!

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. I work with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit my website for more information. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

Free College Prep and Essay Writing Program April 3 in Ridgefield

March 26, 2014

Join me for a free College Prep and Essay Writing Program April 3 at Ridgefield Parks and Recreation. I’ll be joined by Jennifer Soodek, college admissions specialist and owner of Head4Success College Counseling.

Jennifer will give an overview of the college admissions process and I’ll teach you and your student what colleges look for in college application essays, and how to write essays that stand out.

If you need a bribe, we’re bringing cookies.

This program is from 7-9 pm and is for high school students and their families. Register through Ridgefield Parks and Recreation: 203-431-2755. I hope to see you there!

Free College Prep Night April 3 2014

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting.A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

How to Talk to a Rep at a College Fair

March 15, 2014

How to talk to a rep at a college fair
If you read my last post you know how to attend a college fair.

But what do you say when you talk to a rep? Do you need to make a good impression? (Yes.)  How do you get your questions answered? (Read on.)

Here are 8 Tips for Talking to a Rep at a College Fair:

1. Introduce yourself.

  • Smile, hold out your hand, and say, “Hi, I’m _______. It’s nice to meet you.” 

2. Use this as an opportunity to develop a relationship. Colleges often give preference to students who have shown an interest in attending. The college lingo for this is “demonstrated interest.” Students can demonstrate interest in many ways, such as when they visit, take a tour, talk to a professor, attend a college fair, or get to know their college rep.

  • If you’re interested in the school, get the rep’s contact information. You can contact him or her later in the process if you have questions. It’s also possible that you’ll meet the rep at another college fair or when you visit the college, in which case you want to make sure to say hi. Developing a relationship can give you an edge when you apply, because the school will know you’re really interested.

3. Have questions ready.

  • Jot down a few questions before you go to the fair.
  • Create your questions from these categories: academics, admissions, financial aid, and housing.
  • Ask your most important questions first. If there’s a line behind you, you may not be able to ask all the questions on your list. (You can always get in touch after the fair, or come back to the table when the crowds thin out.)

4. Use these questions to jump-start your list:

  • What are your admissions requirements?
  • Do you offer early decision?
  • Do you accept advanced placement courses?
  • What is the average high school GPA of the entering class?
  • What are some of your strongest academic programs?
  • Do you offer the major(s) I’m interested in?
  • What are the most popular majors?
  • Is there an honors program? What are the requirements?
  • How many undergraduates attend  your school?
  • What is the student to faculty ratio?
  • Do professors teach undergraduates or will I have mostly teaching assistants?
  • Are faculty members easy to reach outside of class?
  • What is the total cost of attending your school for a year?
  • What kinds of scholarships are available?
  • What kind of financial aid is available?
  • What is the average financial loan package?
  • How many students receive financial aid?
  • What sports or other events are popular on campus?
  • Are there fraternities and sororities? How strong are they?
  • Is housing guaranteed? For how long?
  • What do students do in their free time?
  • What percentage of your students graduate in four years?
  • How are roommates selected?
  • What kind of support do you offer for students with special needs?

5. Don’t wait on long lines. Skip the most crowded tables. Make a note on your map to come back later, when the lines are shorter.

6. Don’t hog the rep. This tip comes from Matthew Dempsey, who is a college admissions officer at Fairfield University. Matthew says he loves answering questions, but he has a limited time to meet and talk to people at college fairs. So if you (or your family) have a lot of questions and there’s a line behind you, say hello but come back later in the fair when the rep isn’t as busy and will have more time for you.

7. Let your parents listen. Parents will often have follow-up questions for the rep, especially about financial aid.

8. Say thank you. Make a point to end the way you began: smile, shake hands, and say thank you. You’ll make a great – and memorable – impression.

Read my related post:
How to Visit a College Fair

Print out an excellent one-page list of questions:
Questions to Ask a Representative (From Montana State University)

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

How to Visit a College Fair

March 8, 2014

how to visit a college fair Have you added a college fair to your calendar? Great! You’ll meet college reps, find answers to your questions, and learn about the schools that interest you.

But be careful – college fairs can be overwhelming, especially if you plunge in without a plan.

Here’s How to Visit a College Fair:

1. Locate a College Fair in Your Area.

The biggest organizer of college fairs is the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). You’ll find a complete list of college fairs on their website. They also organize Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs.

You can register beforehand for a NACAC fair, which will save time and standing on line.

High schools organize college fairs, too. Every year you’ll find me at the Danbury College & Vocational Fair in Danbury, Connecticut, where I love meeting and talking to students about writing college application essays. (Come see me!)

2. Before You Go to the Fair:

  •  Make a list of the colleges you want to visit. The schools should meet your criteria (academics, extracurriculars, location, size, etc.).
  • Take a notebook and a pen or pencil.
  • Take a bag or backpack to stash the information you’ll collect.
  • If you have access to a computer, print address labels with your name and address to stick on all the requests for information you’ll want to fill out (a time-saver!).
  • Dress decently. You may be meeting the college admissions officer from the school of your dreams.
  • Write down questions for the college reps. Here are a few possible questions:
    • What are the most popular majors at your school?
    • Do you offer the sports or extra curricular activities I’m interested in?
    • What kind of career services do you offer your students?
    • How available are the instructors to the students?
    • Do the best professors teach undergraduates?
    • How many students receive financial aid?
    • NACAC offers a complete list of questions to print out. Find it here.

3. When You Arrive:

  • Pick up a Map. Mark off the colleges that you want to see and lay out a path. That way, you won’t miss any schools or have to backtrack to find them, which will save a ton of energy.
  • Talk to at Least One School Not on Your List. Don’t just look at the schools you think you’ll like or the ones your friends want to attend. If a school seems interesting, say hi. You’ve got reps from colleges across the country at your disposal.
  • Don’t Rely on Memory. After you finish at each table, jot down the answers and your impressions so you can compare schools later. Everything blends together at these events—no matter how great your memory is.

4. For Bonus Points:

  • Bring Your Parents. Really. I’m not saying that Mom and Dad should stand two inches away while you talk to the rep—this is your fair. But parents are another set of eyes and ears, which is helpful when there’s so much information to absorb. They can also get answers to their own questions, like financial aid. Afterwards, make plans as a family to grab a burger and discuss your impressions—it will help you sort out your thoughts.

5. When You Get Home:

  • Organize your materials so you can find them when you need them.

Next Time: How to Talk to a Rep at a College Fair (and make a great impression while you do).

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

helpful links:
NACAC: Tips for Attending a College Fair
NACAC: What to Do at a Performing Arts Fair
Danbury College & Vocational Fair

2014 Spring College Fairs

February 25, 2014

2014 college fairs spring
Looking for a college fair in your area?

Here is the list of  spring 2014 national college fairs sponsored by National Association for College Admission Counseling.  For more information about each fair, click on the name of the college fair or visit National College Fairs.

MARCH 2
Louisville National College Fair
Kentucky International Convention Center
Louisville, KY
2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

MARCH 9
The Park Expo and Conference Center
Charlotte, NC
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
MARCH 11
Raleigh Convention Center
Raleigh, NC
4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

MARCH 16
Atlanta National College Fair
Georgia World Congress Center
Atlanta, GA
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

MARCH 16 & 17
Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Rochester, New York
March 16: 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
March 17: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
MARCH 18
Syracuse National College Fair
SRC Arena
Onondaga Community College
Syracuse, New York
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 8 p.m.
MARCH 30 & MARCH 31
Eastern States Exposition (The Big E)
West Springfield, Massachusetts
March 30: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
March 31: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

MARCH 31 & APRIL 1
Metro Detroit National College Fair
Suburban Collection Showplace
Novi, Michigan
March 31: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
April 1: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
—-

Grand Rapids, Michigan
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

APRIL 3 & 4
Hartford National College Fair
Connecticut Convention Center
Hartford, Connecticut
Thursday, April 3: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Friday, April 4: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.


APRIL 5
Columbus National College Fair
Greater Columbus Convention Center
Columbus, Ohio
1:00 p.m. – 4 p.m.

APRIL 6
Cleveland National College Fair

Wolstein Center
Cleveland, Ohio
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

APRIL 6
New York National College Fair
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center of New York
New York, NY
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

APRIL 8 & 9
Buffalo Niagara Convention Center
Buffalo, NY
April 8: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
April 9: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

APRIL 9 & 10
Montgomery County National College Fair

Montgomery County Agricultural Center
Gaithersburg, MD
April 9: 9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
April 10: 9:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

APRIL 10

Honolulu National College Fair
Hawaii Convention Center
Honolulu, HI
8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


APRIL 11
Prince George’s County National College Fair

Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex
Landover, Maryland
9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

APRIL 23
San Diego National College Fair
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, CA
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

APRIL 23 & 24
New Jersey National College Fair

Meadowlands Exposition Center (at Harmon Meadow)
Secaucus, NJ
April 23: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
April 24: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

APRIL 24
Ventura/Tri-County National College Fair

Ventura County Fairgrounds
Ventura, CA
5:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m

APRIL 26
Providence National College Fair

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, RI
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

APRIL 27
Nashville National College Fair
Music City Center

Nashville, TN
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Anaheim Convention Center
Anaheim, CA
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

APRIL 29
Ontario Convention Center
Ontario, CA
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

MAY 1
Greater Los Angeles National College Fair
Pasadena Convention Center
Pasadena, CA
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

MAY 1 & 2
Boston National College Fair
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC)
Boston, MA
May 1: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
May 2: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Cow Palace
San Francisco, CA
1:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
—-
Enjoy!

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more information. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

2014-2015 Common Application Essay Prompts

February 15, 2014

2014-2015 Common Application essay prompts

The news is in!

The Common Application just announced that The Common Application essay prompts for 2014-15 will be the same as last year.

The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words.

Last year, nearly 70 percent of Common Application member colleges and 90 percent of school counselors said that the prompts were effective in helping students represent themselves to colleges. So they’re doing it again.

That’s good news. Last year my students wrote terrific essays using these prompts. And in the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing what I learned, and writing about how students can answer them.  I have lots of ideas to pass along.

In the meantime, here is the list:

The 2014-2015 Common Application Essay Prompts:

  • 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.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut. A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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