Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills


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Jump-Start Your College Interview: Bring Photos

lJump-start your College Interview - Bring Photos

Want to jump-start your college interview?

Bring Photos. Why?

  • Photos can be great conversation starters.
    • Imagine being able to say, “I’ve got some pictures of the play I starred in.” The conversation is off and running.
  • Sharing photos can put you at ease.
    • Are you on the shy side? Pull out your photos. It will relax the conversation right away.
  • Photos help when something’s hard to explain.
    • One of my students from Wilton, Connecticut, starred in a lot of plays. Instead of trying to describe the roles he played, he brought photos. The photos filled in the details so he didn’t have to describe each role, plus they showed him doing what he loved.

Ace Your College Interview - Bring PhotosWhat kind of photos should you bring?

  • Anything visual. If you’ve been in a dance recital, concert, or marching band—if you’ve built a tree house, gone with your sports team to the state championship, or just come back from an experience you want to share—almost anything you’ve done can be a shared in a photo.

Avoid These Photo Pitfalls:

  • Too many photos! Edit your photos before you share them. Don’t bring a dozen when two or three will do.
  • Don’t make your interviewer wait while you thumb through a hundred photos. Find the photos you need beforehand. The object is to get the conversation started, not bring it to a grinding halt.

Above All: Everything you bring should represent you at your best. If you think a photo is too goofy, silly, or perhaps even inappropriate for an interviewer, don’t bring it.  If you’re not sure, ask an adult.

Then share your photos and enjoy the conversation.

Helpful links:
5 Best Tips for College Interview Success
College Interview Tips: Is it Okay to Ask for Something to Drink?
College Interview Tips: How to Interview with an Alum
College Interview Tips: Combatting Nerves
Interview Tips: How to Interview with a College Sports Coach

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 their 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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Danbury College High School Fair Tonight

Screen shot 2013-10-21 at 9.47.01 AM
Join me at the Danbury College & Vocational Fair tonight
– Monday, October 21.

5 – 8:30 pm at the Danbury Fair Mall.

This is a HUGE college fair! Hundreds of colleges are represented. If you’re looking for a college, this is the place for you.

You’ll have the chance to talk to representatives and learn about the schools. You can pick up information, and ask questions.

Look for me when you come. I hope you’ll bring your questions about your college essays!

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 teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform their 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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Advice for Graduating High School Students: The View from My Inbox

Advice for graduating high school seniors

This is an interesting time of year for me.

In my email I find notes from students excitedly telling me where they’ll be headed in the fall.  I’m also hearing from new students, often apprehensive about the college process, needing to figure it out.

The intersection of two worlds.

It’s a year-long cycle. Head down, one foot in front of the other, schools visited, essays written, applications completed, interviews done, flying toward something new and oh-so-fabulous.

At times it can be tough to see through the slog, but it’s inevitable: After June comes November. After November comes acceptances. After acceptances, graduation.

So, for my 2013 graduates – here’s to you. You did it. And as you leave for adventures yet to be imagined, remember:

Be joyful.
Try new things.
Speak up.
Take risks.
Never lose sight of your dreams.

In a few years I look forward to discovering more notes from my students, excitedly telling me their post-college plans: internships, grad school, work, family, adventures yet to be imagined. And then I’ll turn to the other emails in my inbox, the ones from my new students, and assure them it can all work out.

Graduating this year? Here are helpful links and good advice:
Credit Card Insider: College and Your Credit
5 Pieces of Advice Every High School Graduate Should Get
The Best High School Graduation Advice No One Ever Told Me

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 nominee, Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills and transform their 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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Free College Prep Program in Ridgefield May 9

Ridgefield Parks and Recreation College Program

Are you a member of a college-bound family?

Come to my final college prep program of the spring (and it’s free!):

“Less Stress, More Success”
May 9
7pm
Ridgefield Parks and Recreation
Ridgefield, Connecticut

I’ll be joined by Jennifer Soodek, an independent educational consultant and founder of Head4Success career and college counseling in Ridgefield and Westport. Jennifer and I spoke at ProAccess, the teen center in Bethel, and had a terrific time working together.

We’ve teamed up to help students and their families:

  • Navigate the college admissions process
  • Learn how to write memorable college application essays
  • Take that stress level down a notch (or more)

Jennifer will talk about the application process, from college visits to SAT and ACT testing to creating the right college list.

I’ll teach students how to write great application essays.

You’ll leave knowing what colleges look for and how essays can go from boring and bland to unique and interesting.

Bring your questions and learn from the experts.

This is a great program for high school students and their families.

More info: Ridgefield Parks and Rec. I hope to see you on May 9!

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 nominee for her work in television, she teaches students how to master interview skills and transform their goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. Sharon 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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Common Application Essay and Writing Changes 2013-14

2013 Common App Essay and Writing Changes

There are changes coming to the writing portions of the 2013-14 Common Application. Here’s an overview that The Common App released today:

1. What writing opportunities are available in the 2013-14 Common Application?

The Essay. Required of all applicants.
Additional Information. Optional for applicants who wish to report circumstances or
qualifications not reflected elsewhere in the application.
Required Explanations. Conditionally required for applicants based on responses to
application questions about school discipline, criminal history, military discharge, or an
interrupted education.

2. What is changing about writing in the Common Application?

•  There are 5 new essay prompts.
• Each writing section will have an enforced 650 word limit. The essay will not allow a
response shorter than 250 words.
• The extracurricular short answer question will be part of supplemental essay requirements for schools that want to ask this question.
Uploaded documents will be replaced by text-entry. Students can compose their
responses directly in the application or cut-and-paste a response drafted in another word
processing program.

3. Can students format their writing?

Yes. Basic formatting (bold, italics, underline, and accented characters) will be available. In
addition, text pasted from a word processing program will typically retain these styles of
formatting.

4. Will students have other opportunities to share more writing or additional submissions?

Yes. Through supplemental essays, if colleges wish to ask for them. Also, colleges may be willing to receive uploaded documents such as resumes, research papers, or graded assignments. (Make sure to find out if individual schools accept these kinds of submissions.)

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut.
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone, Skype, and by email. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter:

follow Sharon Epstein on Twitter


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Common App 2013 Essay Prompts

Common Application essay prompts 2013

The 2013-2014 Common Application won’t formally launch until August 1, but  the Common Application essay prompts are already out.

There are changes from last year:

650 word limit (up from 500)
All-new prompts
No “topic of your choice”

Here are the 2013 Common Application Essay Prompts with Instructions:

Instructions: The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and
helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to
know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you
answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and
structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

  1. 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.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  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?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

In future posts I’ll give you easy-to-follow tips on writing your 2013 College Application essay.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut.
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone, and by email. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter and Pinterest:

follow Sharon Epstein on Twitterfollow Sharon Epstein on pinterest


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Writing College Essays: 3 Words to Ditch

college essay writing: 3 weak wordsSome words shouldn’t find their way into college application essays. I’m not talking about words that make you sound like a thesaurus (I’ll get to that at a later date) – I’m talking about words that are weak.

Weak words are like limp handshakes – a little damp, a little icky – you wish the person shaking your hand had the confidence to do it right. Maybe nobody told them. Which is why I’m telling you.

3 of the Weakest Words in College Essays:

1. Things
2. Get
3. This

What Makes These Words Weak?
They’re all vague. (What “things” are you talking about, anyway?) They’re also BORING.
Please, don’t bore your college reader (zzzzzzzz).

How Do You Get Rid of Weak Words?
Easy. Learn to recognize them, and then substitute stronger, more interesting words. Interesting words are often more specific words.

Here are examples of how to change weak words to strong:

1. Things

Weak: “I enjoy learning about certain things on my own.”
Strong: “I enjoy learning about science and math on my own.”
Weak: “I frequently hear things like, “Hey Smart Girl, I bet you know everything.”
Strong: “I frequently hear comments like, “Hey Smart Girl, I bet you know everything.”

2. Get

Weak: “The day after getting the ping-pong table, I asked my dad to play with me.”
Strong: “The day after the store delivered the ping-pong table, I asked my dad to play with me.”
Weak: “If snow was predicted, I’d head out in the middle of a storm to get the driveway cleared.”
Strong:If snow was predicted, I’d head out in the middle of a storm to clear the driveway.”

3. This

Weak: “I’ve been working on this since last summer.”
Strong: “I’ve been working on my carpentry skills since last summer.”
Weak: “I didn’t pursue this expecting to become a professional.”
Strong: “I didn’t pursue dance expecting to become a professional.”

Find the weak words in your essays and substitute stronger ones. You’ll show off your writing skills, and impress your college reader.

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skillsSharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting
Need help? I work with students everywhere: in-person, over the phone, and by computer. Visit my website for more info. Connect with me on Google+, Twitter and Pinterest:

follow Sharon Epstein on Twitterfollow Sharon Epstein on pinterest
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