Applying To College

College Essay Writing and Interview Skills


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How to Write 2015 Common Application Essay #5: Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

how to write Common Application  essay 5 childhood to adulthoodThe Common Application essay prompts are out.

How do you choose which essay to write?

In this 5 part series I help you figure out which question on the 2015 Common Application essay is right for you.

We’re down to the last one. Whew!

Ready for #5?

Let’s do it!

Common Application Essay Prompt #5:

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

Is this Prompt for You? Look at the Keywords:

how to write 2013 common app essay

“Accomplishment or Event” … “Transition from Childhood to Adulthood” … “Culture, Community or Family”

What the Keywords Mean:

  • “Accomplishment or event” is a very broad phrase. That’s good! It means you can choose almost anything you’ve done, experienced or accomplished.
  • “Transition from childhood to adulthood.” Don’t feel quite like an adult yet? That’s okay — you can still answer the question. The Common App really wants to know how you’ve become more mature or responsible over time.  
    • Ask yourself these questions: Have you taken on more responsibility? Do you make decisions in a more mature way? Are you more dependable? Do you teach younger students what you’ve been taught? Does your family or community ask you for advice on an issue you’ve become knowledgeable about? Have you been through a religious or cultural rite of passage that was meaningful to you? There are many ways we grow into adulthood.

Still Looking for a Topic?

  • Here are a few more questions you can ask yourself: Did you set a goal for yourself that you achieved? Did you work hard at a task, hobby, or skill that you eventually were able to master? Did you have a relationship with an important person that helped shape you? Did you have a life event that forced you to take on more responsibility? Did you have an experience that helped you become more compassionate or understanding? Did you experience a traumatic event that made you see the world in a different way? Did you need to find a way to get yourself out of a difficult situation? Did you start your own business? Did you learn how to allocate your own money? These are just a few ideas — make sure to keep thinking!

how to write 2013 common app essay

Pitfalls to Avoid: 

  • Don’t forget to include a learning experience. Although the prompt doesn’t specifically ask for it, colleges want to know how you grew or what you learned from your experience. How did your experience shape your attitude, outlook or actions? How did it help you become the person you are today? Make sure to tell them.

Essay Topic Example 

A young woman began dancing before she could tie her shoes. The tradition at her dance studio was that the older dancers mentored the younger ones. As she grew older and became more accomplished, she started teaching the younger students. Now she helps them in the studio and outside of dance. As she has matured, the student has learned what it takes to be a friend and mentor, and is helping continue her dance studio’s tradition.

Is this Example Successful? Yes.

  • All the keywords are addressed.
    • The student writes about an accomplishment in her community.
    • Her transition from child to young adult is marked by taking on more responsibility and becoming a teacher and mentor to the younger dancers.
  • She learned from her experience.
    • The student has matured and become more responsible.

What Can Colleges Learn About You From This Question?

  • Your level of maturity.
    • Schools can get a feeling for how well you will interact with your peers and instructors, your decision-making abilities, and even your possible leadership skills.
  • Your ability to develop important relationships within your family, culture, or community.
    • Schools can learn what kind of community member you will be at college.
  • The kind of idea or experience that’s truly meaningful to you.
    • Your essay topic tells the school a great deal about what’s important to you. Make sure you choose a topic that is meaningful to you and says good things about you.

We’re done! We’ve covered all the prompts. If you’ve read the blog posts I’ve written on how to answer each question, you should be able to choose the right topic and write an essay that makes you shine. If you have any questions, drop me a line and let me know.

Also in this series:
How to Write Common App Prompt #1: Background, Talent, Identity, or Interest
How to Write Common App Prompt #2: A Time you Experienced Failure
How to Write Common App Prompt #3: Challenged a Belief or Idea
How to Write Common App Prompt #4: Problem You’ve Solved or Would Like to Solve

sharon-epstein-college-essay-writing-and-interview-skills

Sharon 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. Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. 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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Common Application News and Statistics

The Common Application has come out with some interesting statistics for this past year (2011-12)

Total Number of Applications

  • 2.75 million (up 16% from the previous year)

Who’s Using the Common Application?

  • 56% female
  • 52% white
  • 8% international students
  • 32% are the first generation to apply to college
  • 71% of applicants go to public school
  • Less than 1% are home schooled

Member Schools

Change is Coming

  • Next year (2013-2014) the Common Application will introduce Common App 4.0
  • College essay topics will change annually, although students will still be able to write on a topic of their choice.
  • Essay topics will be announced each March instead of August, which will give students the opportunity to begin writing earlier.
  • The Common App is also talking about putting a firm limit on the number of words that can be uploaded for the personal essay, although whether that means the current Common Application essay 500 word limit will remain at 500 words is still undecided.
  • Common App 4.0 will launch August 1, 2013.

related articles:
Peterson’s: Using the Common Application as Your College Application
U.S. News: Should I Use the Common Application?

Sharon Epstein, FIrst Impressions College Consulting..Sharon 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:

follow Sharon Epstein on Twitterfollow Sharon Epstein on pinterest

Leave a comment — let me know what you think!


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Attaching Resumes or Activity Sheets to an Application – The Right Way

In my last post I talked about an interesting LinkedIn discussion among college professionals as to whether or not students should have a resume or activity sheet. Now I want to tackle another question:

Should students attach a resume or activity sheet to their college application?

For that answer I turned to friend and colleague Betsy Bell, a college consultant whose company is Acorn Educational Consulting in Wilton, Connecticut. Here’s what Betsy says:

“I have my students create a resume so I can see what their activities are and their level of commitment in each activity. If their activities are easily covered on the application with all the necessary descriptions included, their resumes are not included in the application.

If there is not enough space on the application for good descriptions, and their resume has more in-depth descriptions of their leadership roles, then we will upload their resume.

If the student is applying to the very top schools they might be asked to restrict their resume to one page, or not include one at all. I read the fine print just to make sure we are following the rules.

On the common application there are 12 spaces for activities. Usually that is plenty for most students, but there is limited space for descriptions, and in these cases I would have the resume uploaded in the “additional information” space which is after the essay on the common application. Each school might have very specific requirements and I read them very carefully as we do not want to irritate the admissions people.”

To summarize:

DO include a resume/activity sheet:

  • If there is not enough space on the application and the resume has more in-depth descriptions of a student’s leadership roles
  • Upload to the “additional information” space on the common application

DON’T include a resume/activity sheet:

  • If activities are easily covered on the application with all the necessary descriptions included
  • In other words: Don’t Duplicate Information

READ the fine print and  follow the rules

  • You don’t want to annoy the college admissions people

Thanks, Betsy!

Read  Resumes and Activity Sheets: Good Idea When Applying to College?


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College Admissions: Competitors to the Common App

Got applications? Maybe you’ll be using the Common Application. Then again, maybe not.

A recent article in the New York Times, entitled “More Than One Way to Apply to College,” discussed competitors to the Common Application, including the Universal College Application, the Common Black College Application, and a portal called Xap. Here’s some information you should know:

COMMON APPLICATION
www.commonapp.org

The Common Application is the granddaddy of the one-stop application, allowing students to apply to multiple schools with one form. Currently, the Common App has 414 member schools. But the requirements it makes of its members, including requiring a college application essay, have excluded many institutions from joining. Public schools are especially under-represented.

UNIVERSAL COLLEGE APPLICATION
www.universalcollegeapp.com

Universal doesn’t ask its schools to require a college application essay. In fact, if you’re applying to one that doesn’t, you won’t see that requirement pop up in your application. For schools that do require a college application essay, Universal suggests a maximum of 500 words. That’s much different from the minimum 250 required by the Common App, which often means essays go far beyond 500 words.

The Universal College Application is accepted by over 80 colleges. The hope is that as this number grows, schools will gain access to a broader range of students who are applying to both public and private colleges, thereby increasing the diversity of their applicant pool. A wide range of schools accept Universal, including the University of New Haven, Johns Hopkins, Duke, and Harvard.

XAP
www.nationalappcenter.com

According to the New York Times, this portal processed 4 million college applications last year. From here students can apply to over 900 colleges and universities.

One section on the site connects to state-wide “Mentor systems.” What’s great about this system is that it imports information from one application into all the other applications in that same state. Several dozen, including Connecticut, participate. You can access this section from Xap, or from each school’s website (although not all schools have it listed). For UConn, go to http://admissions.uconn.edu, click “apply online” and you’ll see info for creating a CT Mentor  account.

There’s no charge for using the Mentor system, other than the application fee.

COMMON BLACK COLLEGE APPLICATION
www.eduinconline.com

From here a student can apply to 35 historically black colleges and universities at once. There is a $35 fee which covers all the schools, replacing the individual application fees charged by each institution. That can save a lot of money.

Which to use? That’s up to your college choices. If you’re applying to a lot of schools in-state, Xap can make the process easier. If you’re applying to primarily public schools, the Common App might be your best bet.