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Lesson One: Tackling the Question


Introduction

Whoever first said that you should worry only about the things you can control was not helping to ease the concerns of the student writing his or her application essay. By that criterion, the student-writer should be very worried indeed. The scariest aspect of the admissions essay is that you have total control over it. With our help, you will learn to see the essay-writing process not as a daunting obstacle, but as a stimulating opportunity. When you send out your application, you will—in theory—have nothing left to worry about, knowing that you have capitalized on all the means available to you.

The admissions process is extremely selective. Talented and motivated students from around the world compete against each other for a scarce number of spots. Facing the difficult task of choosing among often indistinguishable candidates, admissions officers must rely heavily on those factors that provide insight into the applicants' characters, and these usually boil down to recommendation letters and essays. Although you can and should choose your recommendation writers carefully, the essay remains the only aspect of your application under your total control.

What makes the essay such a useful measure is that it represents you on two fronts: the substantive details of your experiences themselves and the style and approach you use to present them. Both aspects can and should say a great deal about your abilities and qualifications.

The number-one mistake that writers make is to stick to formulas and thereby end up blending in with everyone else. The purpose of this guide is not to teach formulas, but rather to give the necessary direction for you to create an original and effective essay. We will teach you how to choose appropriate topics and themes, how to structure your essay as a coherent and flowing piece, and how to convey your ideas through engaging and active language.

Select One:

 

EssayEdge Extra: Who’s Reading My Essay?

A typical admissions committee consists of:

  • An experienced director who's been working in college admissions for ten to twenty years

  • One or two associate directors with five years of experience

  • A handful of assistants who have just graduated from the college

The assistants read all the applications, but the associate directors and director read only what the assistants pass along. Some schools will subject your essay to further scrutiny by circulating your file among members of an admissions committee comprised of several individuals, including admissions officials, faculty members, and possibly current students. In short, your principal audience consists of young men and women about four to five years older than you are. In other words, you are writing for your peers.






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Lesson Three

Lesson Four

Lesson Five

Lesson Six



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