The ABCs of Writing a Great College Application Essay

Oh you up for you exciting of information a little bit about making everybody hear me a little bit about me I’m I have a bachelor’s in English I have a master’s in communication and after I graduated I spent a lot of time in television produced television and then I started writing for television and I wrote soap operas for I would another world and they worked for guiding light no vote for all my children so um I’ve written marriages and I’ve been three jobs like that me jamar my stuff so if you can think of a story you know we probably written it it’s probably been up on a soap opera so let’s think about the word story for a moment because that’s really important and what makes a good story so I want you to think about you have a favorite TV show if you have a favorite book and whatever it is it has to hold your interest right because if it’s boring you’re going to turn the channel or you can put that book down and you’re never going to come back to it so good story makes you turn that page draws you in right has a characters that you care about you want to find out what happens to them I mean even if it’s the Kardashians right you want to find out what happens to them so a good story draws you belong starts the beginning in Costa middle and it goes to the end in an interesting way so that’s what’s good story is and a college application SI is a good story it’s the difference is it’s about you it’s about creating a story about you something that you want to tell the school’s about your life your interests your goals something that has meaning to you so we’re going to talk a little bit about some stories a minute and first I want to talk about the common application and if you don’t know what the common application is the common application is an application that you fill up just once and then it can be sent to as many schools to participate in the common application as you want right now there are I think about 490 schools to accept the common application some don’t but probably most of the ones that you’re trying to do so today what we’re doing is we’re focusing on the essay for the common application and behind me are the prompts for this year not going to talk about them yet we’ll get to that but that’s what we’re going to discuss although yeah about when i talk about writing college application essays everything that you learn today can fly to any college application essay so if you have been through the college process before had a student that’s been through before the college application essays change this year they’ve changed in a couple of significant ways before you could write up to 500 words now you can write up to 650 words before even if you wrote more than 500 words you could upload it this time you’re not going to be able to upload more than 650 words there are all new prompts that they say they’re going to be changing every year whereas before you had the option to write about a topic of your choice that’s gone and the common application all had two essays before one was a short answer about your extracurricular activity that now is off the table although member schools if they want to add it in they can but right now we’re saying I’m saying that the common application is one essay and that’s what we’re going to focus on today so let’s talk about what colleges look for in a college application is so they look for three major things we’re going to look for how well you’re right they’re going to look for how well you organize your thoughts and they’re going to look for what’s unique about me what’s special about what makes you you in a way and why why is that important well because colleges when they have an applicant pool and they accept people they are really a campus community and they’re looking to populate that community all different kinds of people right athletes and creative people and people love theatre people of engineering putting together a whole batch of people that will come together can be really interesting make their campus community vibrant so in this college essay really is your representative to them and it is going to let them get to know you you got to figure out how you be a great part of their community really why you’d be a good fit so that’s one of the things that this important thing is that this essay does no one else should be able to write your essay that’s how stuff how special this essay should be for you I’m going to add a fourth thing actually I’m going to say that the colleges are also looking for you to add in this essay of learning a growth experience not just what you did but how it changed how you grew from it what was important and meaningful about it that you want to write about it so before we get to those topics and that wasn’t should be writing let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be writing because that’s important to note too so I have 88 things that you should scratch off your list and first one is your drug use right I her louder louder laughter from Serie sections but you always want college application essay to say positive things about you good things about it okay so you really don’t want to be telling them about the time the cops almost call you six pack of beer do parkour what you’re doing in the back seat of the car anything that really is not going to say good things about you so no dressers your sex life right you want to be careful again about too much information what you want to consider is that your essay has a reader right there’s maybe people reading assessing who’s reading your essay it could be anybody okay this is matthew Dennis Lee he could be reading you’re upset it could you look around you it could be someone who’s older to be someone who just graduated we settled with different life experiences and you don’t know so you don’t ever want to make them uncomfortable another thing to stretch off your list is anything that sounds like bragging okay I worked so hard to get straight A’s single-handedly won the game if there are ways of talking about these things you want to do with a little bit of humility rather than just making it sound like bragging that’s going to turn people off so men there is the subject topic of controversial subjects if you careful when you thinking about dealing with issues of abortion capital punishment gun control now gun controls really any news right now we are in an area we are in fact there are some students that may want to talk on gun control incidents that have affected them but when you do it you want to make sure that you approach these subjects in a mature way with perspective and not just not just like an opinion piece with just one opinion if you’re going to write on a controversial subject again understand that you’re not sugars reading it and be really thoughtful about how you’re going to butcher ok so the travel blog adopt the type of diary if you’ve been on vacation run on vacation for two weeks and want to talk about your vacation you don’t want to do to say they want are advancing day two I did this in 23 I defense and a format will be asleep by the time you finish yours you’re in the rest so you want to find a different way to approach approach it you want to find a way one thing that happened during that term that was meaningful to you and another thing is lists a list of accomplishments I did this and then I do that and when i was elected to sell and so and by the end I’ve had a great life so so that again is not make a really meaningful deep college essay it doesn’t tell the college with you so those are things at home you should consider not doing so what should you be doing what should you be writing about so you want to be writing about you you want to be writing about your goals you want to be writing about your dreams want to be writing about what shape you how you’ve come through it to be the person that you are today you want to figure out what it is that one of the schools to know that we all have a lot of things but you can’t do everything with 650 words so you have to figure out what’s important and what it is that you want to share so a lot of people say i don’t know how do i figure that out I mean we do not spend a lot of time reflecting on our lives and thinking about a lot when we were too busy being part of our lives and so this isn’t this is kind of a time when we have to step back and be that fine wall in our life and kind of look inside and look inside and say what is it that I’m doing what is it that I have done sometimes people think of that I think of your life is like a a role of movie film and you’re watching your life is moving if you’re thinking about the times and your life that stand out in that movie what would those things be there are different ways to think about that another way that um that that I’ve worked with my students is discussing figuring out what their values are what is important to them in terms of the type of people you are so now we come to this handout be getting to know your handout and if you look at this handout what this has is a lot of good this virtual tour valleys and I want everybody to look at it parents too definitely definitely students and I want you to look at this list and we did and I want you to take the time and then I want you to circle five values that you believe are important to you in your own life and I’m going to give you a minute to do that take a look at the list and think about so you can doing this if I’m finished but what should they should that what I ask my students to do is now that you have a list of these five things you want you to think of illustration from your own life how your own life reflects this value so for instance if you’ve circled thoughtfulness maybe you say I’m thoughtful every week I go to senior citizen home to spend time with somebody who has no difference or or your circle perseverance because that has been something that you have come through and you struggled through but you have gotten to the edge of it so personally or your circle commitment well how are you committed and how you exhibit that in your life and what you find it if we take the time to give it right down example every one of these values if I’m values you’ll begin to understand your life what is valuable to you you may even end up a good example of something that will actually answer a prompt or a supplemental essay but it leads just the beginning of you figuring out what it is that that’s valuable to you maybe something that you want to share so I find this very very valuable and that’s always a good way to start and we’re talking about what do I talk about how do we know about it so that’s that handle okay basically what you’ve done here is you’ve started to do research about yourself because that’s what the colleges are asking you to do they’re asking you to figure out who you are it’s like doing a term paper on a subject where I except you’re in subject so you have to do all the research so this is how you start so I want to give you I want to read you an example actually of how this how this works because I have student come to me in order to get in his essay but I’ll give me it was really good this was how it started these were his first few sentences the universal language of the world is music any genre can be related to an individual person the lyrics can delve into a much deeper meaning than what they actually are and can be interpreted in so many different ways so this felt really attached I mean this I think it is like you know it sounds like a term paper and you’re describing music who are you so we went through this and he circled the values and he came up with examples and he he decided what his values are and what mattered to him and he changed topics and I’m just going to read you his first sentences go mow the lawn I don’t want to I’m tired fine moments later my father stormed out of the house to mow the lawn had a heart attack that’s a much different insight and that’s a personal essay and he figured out inside what he wanted to tell the college and so that came from this so this can be very valuable so what you’re doing is you’re thinking of yourself like a project right hopefully you’ll begin to come up with the foundation and an essay that’s unique to you so we’re almost going to get to the prompts that I want to talk about the elements of a good essay so we started with the word story you want to choose of your essay as a story by my father stormed out of the house and had a heart attack that’s the beginning the story during the store it’s something happens to you I can you want to show during through your story that you learn something about yourself i mentioned that earlier that’s really really key it’s not just the experience you’re writing about because across the more you may have similar experiences to another student but it’s what happened to you how that shape Jeanette is going to be unique to you so it’s so cute essays will have two parts right the topic and you’re learning or your growth experience your essay needs to say good things about you can talk about that we talked about the word unique you shouldn’t only you should be able to write your essay if you write your essay and then you look at it and you ask yourself can 100 on your students write the same I say then it isn’t unique enough to you yet you have to figure out what do times you’re missing what part of you you haven’t put in it write a message at have really great detail this is also part of making your essay unique right detail sets the scene for the reader so you know when you write you know that you’re writing who what when where and why but there’s other 20 times that you should think of sensory details in point what it tastes like what it smelled how did it feel how did it look that’s going to draw your mirror to the story so here’s a couple of sentences from from an essay right musty air filled my lungs as Beatles crept across my sleeping bag struggling to find sleep in the dungeon the sticky residue a spiderweb still clung to my hair so that’s very descriptive and that has great detail you figured out closed his eyes thought about how it was and how it felt to him how it sensitively cut sticky spider webs in his hair we all feel that when we leave it so that’s good detail so essays good essays are honest don’t write what you think colleges want here don’t make up stuff because not only I promise you what you have to say is better than what you’re going to make up in fact I had a young man and you rent with a Harvard student and he wrote a blog post for me about what he learned from writing college essays in fact the blog post was about how worried college essays gave him the ability to write the essays that got him an important internship and probably a job but one of the things that he wrote was about honesty and I love a hero he said honesty honestly line is hard no matter how much detail you slap on a lie there are crucial significant elements that are still missing save yourself in trouble trying to write about stuff that you have never done and just pour your heart and mind into those events that you have place so I think that’s really great oh goodness is going to sound like you it’s not go sounded like a 40 year old it’s not go sounds like a professor it’s going to sound with you we all have our own voices all talking to certain wedding all have a way with sound the college’s know when they’re reading an essay but someone who is 40 you’re different you’re you there’s a handout you may picked up it’s called writing with your authentic voice and so that’s something that you should meet it should we buy an essay it should almost read like you speak and it should be very close to how to write so also good essays don’t tell Michelle I don’t know if you learn this already in your English classes but what do we mean by that a lot of times when students write some things surely provided a story for don’t tell me what happened well very explicitly this happened and that happened with the other thing has nothing to be pretty boring so I’m going to give you an example of a young man was applying to medical school this is how he started his draft he tells us when I was in high school I had the privilege to take an honours emergency medical technician course as part of my regular coursework I recently joined fire department in towns part of my community volunteer service I was quickly thrusted into the world and emergency medicine one of my first motor vehicle accidents involve a longtime friend and one of my first calls working a cardiac arrest was a close friend’s mother what tells us something it tells us something so it’s also pretty boring it’s there’s no action that means happening it’s not only a story that draws you in so he reworked it all right he started with the action that was happening here’s how he showed us 324 am drowsy trying to wake up reading ambulance for an unresponsive female adrenaline kicking in EMS pants on CPR in progress damn and then continues so so much more interesting he created his introduction to start with actions happening and he showed us what was happening he didn’t tell us what has happened so now we’re going to pause so these pumps are all new this year and I’m going to read you force the instructions that aren’t here so that you know what they say the essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic 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 best option write an essay have no more than 650 words using the prompt to inspire and structure your response so we’re going to go through these pumps and I’m give you some examples I haven’t had students set of exactly written these examples but they have written on topics of their choice and a lot of them do fitting so the first one is some students have a background of 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 so this topic gives you a lot of leeway it’s almost like a topic of your choice but but it’s so central to your identity that you your application would be incomplete without it one thing that you don’t want to forget if you choose the topic is to give them tell them what you’re learning experience was what your growth experience was and I will tell you a give you an example I had a student who was a very accomplished vallely now in fact she studied on with the book well showed ballet during the summer she wrote how she loved to dance she was so accomplished that everyone thought that she would turn professional but she decided she didn’t want to and that was the end of her essay it was about her identity something that’s so important to her but she knew something was missing and she couldn’t figure it out so we talked about it and talked about was important to her and you know what it turned out it turned out that the reason that she didn’t want to be a professional dancer was because she wanted to be a nutritionist for dancers that when she was at the summer intensives her experience with other girls who had had eating disorders impacted her in such a way that changed her whole the idea for whole that was real learning experience and that was the rest of her essay so this is how she began her essay 12pm 70 Lincoln Center Rose building 3rd floor I’m here for the summer intensive with the bolshoy ballet academy of Moscow one of the oldest and most established schools for classical ballet training it’s lunchtime in Manhattan as ballerinas fled to cafe my body aches from the morning technique and point class but I find enough energy to retrieve my daily yogurt and fruit around me dancers pick up granola bars examine them like they are foreign objects and place them back on the shelves the voices echo in my head my partner won’t be able to lift me if I eat that how many calories are in this sandwich something mumbled in Russian so the eye knowing that she was going to talk about how this changed her change the whole dynamics of the essay so get the feeling right from the start which is going to talk about notice also that she used the word I a lot and is the word I something that when you’re in school you’re taught not to do right you’re supposed to be objective but when you’re writing this essay without you so you want to use the word on now the second prompt recount incident or time when you experience failure how did it affect you what lessons did you learn all right as we’re going through maybe things are you know muddling you know milling around in your head and if you’re getting an idea that something is speaking to you so I have an example for this I’m not going to tell you what this is about I’m just going to read you the first paragraph the snow was almost up to my knees and still coming down it was five o’clock in the morning freezing and windy I didn’t know how I was going to get through this quite honestly I was tempted to quit before I started but I had six people too on me it would be up to me if they’d be able to get to work or buy groceries for dinner I turned the ignition switch of my 600 I be a TV put it in reverse and ended up a foot away from the garage stuck so I didn’t tell you what it’s about because I don’t need to tell you what it was about I think this was a great introduction tell you where he is what’s going on and he tells you that something bad has just happened because it has a lot of people depending on him this student got into a situation where the weather report was wrong and he say to me got stuck and it’s all about how he had to get out of that but the important thing that I’m saying is that he didn’t focus on the failure he focused how he got out of that and and how it shaped him and was learned from it and I’m going to be free to the conclusion this is how he ends it three years later I’m sitting in my own pick up at 17 I saved up enough money from my business to purchase a truck with a plow on my own I learned what it takes to run my own business and solve the unexpected problems that seem to only occur at the worst possible moment I enjoyed learning from my experiences and I look forward to learning more about managing a business so that one day I can run a business in my arm okay number three reflect on a time when you challenged to believe her idea what prompted you to act would you make same decision again this really goes to something that may you know be really inside you something that challenged you I had a student whose father insisted that she be confirmed when she wasn’t ready to commit to a specific faith and this was really hard and tough thing that she had to grapple with this was this was more of an idea and then it’s experiencing and eating experience but it was really from in here she wrote nobody ever wants to be told what to do especially when you’re 16 and it’s your father telling you what to do so when my father announced that it was switching from the Epistle pulled to the Presbyterian Church and that our begin the confirmation process in two weeks I wasn’t pleased so I’ve chosen to read you a lot of introductions today because they’re all interesting they’re all interesting in their own way everybody has a different story everybody’s found an interesting way to tell it they all make you fall to keep reading and you can do that too with your own story this should be inspiring to you ok so number four describe a place or environment when you’re perfectly content what do you do experience them why is it meaningful to you may be any place it can be your room beach the any place it in some place in your imagination could be anyplace Connecticut College has met had an essay this pasture and it wanted to know about your favorite place and I have student write this in the basement of the art building at my school three doors down there is a tiny practice room just enough room for a piano is stroll in a chair this tiny room confront an enormous amount of people and even more memories there’s room to find people a room to work and a room to hang out in it can be locked when we needed to be it is one of the few far private places in school where I can spend time with my friends it’s a small place a simple place but it is my place it is a place devoid of worry and stress where I can relax after a long day everyone should have a place like that this is really nice this really speaks to you and this students voice simple they can go overboard with a lot of detail is not like that if he used his own voice and you really looked inside for meaning right this this would make a good introduction for 650 word SS okay the last one discuss an accomplishment or event formal or informal that market transition from childhood to adulthood retainer culture community or family so it’s to be a lot of things on this past year I had a Filipino student who hadn’t been at all connected to this culture until he joined the Filipino American Association anywhere in language and who learn dance and it turned out that not only does he teach dance now he he teaches the younger Filipino children about their culture and he’s happy to spread that tradition that anybody who wants to know about it and I was really reconnected and so that would make a good essay for this so we’ve gone over the prompts right I’ve given you examples of how students have answered these kinds of questions as I’ve been talking maybe some examples have come to you for own experiences so maybe you’ve already started to figure out what it is you want to say if you can’t I haven’t done that yet one of the ways to kind of figure that out is to brainstorm come up with lots and lots of topics without judging yourself right one of the worst things we can do sit down in the desk and look at a piece of paper or keyboard is it now we are going to write because guess what now i’m going to write is the time that new words will come out so if this is not this is not good for you you can always think when I’m not sitting in front of the keyboard right you’re walking the dog or you’re taking a shower give your brain that time to kind of be creative and to think about it then it brain strong come up with a lot of topics don’t be judgmental about it and write them down and go back and look at them and the topics are talks it to you they’re going to be the ones that you think well maybe I should write about this and they’re kind of just I call it free writing every day free ride and give yourself five minutes of ten minutes and just right keep writing writing about anything it doesn’t matter what nonsense who cares about grammar and keep writing and then look and see what you’ve written and there might be some real gems in there some ideas that you’ve had write some real fluid sentences these would be things that then you can tape and then when you sit down to organize and structure then you can put them into a place that that becomes your college application essay and we’ve talked about great introductions I’ve talked a little bit about good detail you want when you write you want to choose good adjectives and wanted good choose good adverbs and be careful because just because it’s a bigger word and you can find it in the source doesn’t mean it belongs you’re cutting your college essay so I talked to a student and I looked as college asset and also well this is an interesting word what does that mean I don’t know how’s it got out of the source and you have no idea so so again be careful but the words you choose and not everything is amazing not everything is really amazing really is a big word okay really ended up and everybody’s essay for five times of last year so these are things to look for and things to be careful about all right write a good conclusion and finally proofread this is so so important right give it to someone who’s good with some and grammar and punctuation someone that you trust someone that knows you could be a teacher can be a parent have them take a look at it make sure that you know everything looks good everything is proved everything is grammatically correct don’t rely on spell check because spell check will miss words that you know homonyms were other words like that give yourself more time than you need twice as much time as you think you need if you can start in the summer it’s a great time to start because as busy as the summer is when you get to senior it’s going to be busier and sleep on it and your hands it in and I think the common education has some kind of they say that it’s beginning I can’t even tell you per second how many applications are get on with eleven fifty nine pm-4 there before you know midnight of the day that it’s due so try and give yourself enough time to sleep on it and to get it in collect all your essay prompts collect them in advance so that you know the different ones you’re writing but you may be able to use the same idea at four different essays that’s going to save your time and finally a 1 and by saying that everybody here has a story to tell you may not think that you have anything big to say but you don’t have to have something good to say you just have to have something that’s meaningful to you to find a way to say it that’s interesting and to talk about what you’ve learned from it whether it’s someplace you’ve been or someplace you felt it’s in you to write about it okay so do i have a blog it’s called applying to college for it has all kinds of you know SI advice you can go there certainly and i have a newsletter if you want to sign up for that and we’re here for questions afterwards in and i’m always around so anything I can do to help you just let me know and now I’m going to turn it over and a few Dessie thank you I appreciate that does rarely do i get clapped onto the stage but hey I’ll take it well thank you appreciate you guys being here tonight last time i was here in this room it was things like 70 degrees out with beautiful I come here night reason gonna blizzard so you know trying to recalibrate here but I think I could do it so I’m here talk to you guys a little about the college essay from my perspective right from the admission perspective very specifically you know I’m the one that you send that sa to and so I need to kind of tell you what I’m thinking when that sa comes to me but also you know what I’m looking for you know you just got some great information from sharing here just you know about that essay in general but but i think i have a few more things that i can add on to that from the experiences I’ve had reading the essays just a little bit about me before we get started all right Matthew Dempsey is my name all right I’m assistant director of admission fairfield university about in 20 minutes up the road also director transfer admission in the admission office I grew up in Wilton Connecticut so not far from here right I went to wilton high school okay so there’s there’s that I went to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and now this is my sixth year working at it fearful all right so a lot of things right but i am a i’m primarily a product of the liberal eyes okay so so my perspective just so you’re aware is going to be from that of a small liberal arts school so if you’re applying to schools that are much larger you know if you’re applying to a state institution certain things like that it’s going to be helpful for you to ask people like me at those schools what they require an essay or what they’re looking for because fairfield gets about nine thousand or so applications each year okay if you’re going to play to uconn do you think they get nine thousand a year i’m pretty sure they have more than 9,000 students in the freshman class right so you need to know how they evaluate your essay okay those are important things to ask those questions so just so you know the advice I gave will be very helpful from a liberal arts perspective and a small a small and medium-sized school okay and I generally but just keep that in mind that it’s very helpful to ask people like me those kinds of questions ok so these prompts are brand new ok I just got them two weeks ago so I need to know what these work two weeks ago so this is no Slade no secret leap in hiding okay Gemini we just got them and we decided to put them up here for you guys so they weren’t supposed to come out for another three weeks so this is a good that you’re here you’re getting these little bit in advance I don’t know if all the high schools have gotten them and the common app itself doesn’t come out until august first so you can’t even touch this stuff until august first so you’re getting some good information if you’re writing these down it’s on the common apps facebook page by the way if you don’t like their page in your high school junior right now i definitely recommend over you’re a parent you have your own page right light the common app page they have good information good tips good quick you can actually ask questions of them and they will respond which is really great so definitely do that but i got some information you know we got this stuff in their facebook page as well ok so the first thing i want to just make sure you know right my next day answer the question sounds so simple doesn’t it answer the prompt ok the first prompt says some students have a background ur story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it is this sounds like you please then please share your story so then like these you a wide spectrum right you just heard of some ideas you know things where you can if a little bit of an open forum ok we’re going to touch on that a second but alright here’s something that is very important ok the second one right recount an event or a time when you experience failure period how did it affect you theory what lessons did you learn ? there are three things that you need to answer in that essay or in that prompt or it’s not an effective prompt right now I’m not going in there and grading prompt you know one by one but the question is asking three things okay so it’s not you experience failure and now I’m a good person right or you know here’s what happened to me I failed and now i know that i need to you know let’s say I fail the test now I know I need to study for that test right that’s not that’s not the prompt okay so really answer the questions very important insurance of this before the essay is about the apartment of students here the essay is about you write my PSA is about you okay the essays are important piece to the application process okay and we say that because it’s the students opportunity to really put their personality on paper right give us a chance to get to know you outside of what we said before the grades right the you know the SATs or you know the resume the resume gives us a little bit but it’s your voice if I have an interview you and I haven’t met you before I’ve only met you in passing right movie answered a few questions for you write this essay is your chance to tell me that that unique piece to you know to the puzzle okay uh the essays take time to write write sure I’m just highlighted this okay I’ve been talking to families you know a lot of years here all right and I can’t tell you how many times I hear people who talk about writing there sa you know in August like the common app comes out and then they start okay this is a time for you to develop an essay now I’m not asking you to start the essay now not asking you to start it in May all right but June’s a good time to kind of get things rolling right let high school end right kind of let the year and finals we’re done a summers about to start and I’m about to go on vacation and now this guy’s going to tell me about to start working on my occupation how dare you okay but this is important okay right take some time to develop that top let it breathe okay the more you let it breathe the better will become the more time you spend on it and let it kind of grow and become something right the better I say it’s going to be in August right and they say this when you write something for the first time and then you write it again you write it again you write again by the fifth time it’s better than it was the first time correct right same thing with a top right I like to tell people have a list of times right four or five different things that you’re going to you know potential things right now everybody has a smartphone or an iphone right I’m model for a run i’m at the gym and you know not in class I didn’t use my phone in class don’t use it in class but I have something here called notes ok I can add a note and I couldn’t title at college essay topics and I’m sitting there going oh my god I just boom ready to write it then put it on put right on my phone is right in front of me I usually always have this in my hand right I don’t have any class but it’s in my hands right and it’s a good place to kind of keep track of your thoughts right and these are just those things that pop in your head and usually this happens you know they say the best ideas you know our let the middle of the night you know like you’re about to fall asleep you’re like oh I should remember that tomorrow but then you don’t write it down you then you don’t remember right do that these things help okay but it takes time that’s why if you give yourself time I say june is a good time to kind of get things rolling get the ball rolling move things forward and as you get to august right you know you’re going to start having rough drafts and rough drafts and rough drafts and by the end of July you’re gonna have you know probably something that resembles an essay right now you know like a rough rough rough rough rough track right but by the end of august hopefully you have a rough draft and then September rolls around about to start and we go back to english class and we have our guidance counselors and people to help us out and guess what we have a rough draft an essay to bring today right and of course the first deadline for applications is usually what not until November first all right that’s fair fields deadline right for early action you still in September one have two full months with a rough draft to make it a final draft all right so you could submit it any time before november first but think about how much farther ahead than you are with that essay right because you’re sending in your Trent you’re not writing your recommendation letters for yourself you’re not writing up your transcript right if you’ve written up the common app you know in the in the month of August then that’s done so the only thing that you’re really spending time on outside of things you’re asking for is the essay or additional prompts from other schools or things like that so this is why taking the time can be beneficial to you okay now some I don’t know is everybody from darien high school or people go to other high schools as well some other high schools just say soon if what they yell out your favorite county which law hey I te ronsley Brunswick or every school Harvey school some other schools okay right alright so the reason why I say this is does your high school have a like a assignment in English class this year about a college essay does anybody know somebody looked at their syllabus to find out some schools do some schools don’t I put that out there because some schools like it is like a junior year assignment to write a college essay right the only thing I would say about that is that’s wonderful that’s not your college essay so please do not make that your college essay okay your English teacher is going to be able to tell you hey this is great this is good this is great the common app comps haven’t even you know you’re lucky here I don’t even know if they’re going to officially be out so you can’t craft a perfect essay before you really even getting to the common app portion of of the application process okay so from my perspective grammar and spelling right it’s important and but we’re not looking at we’re not looking at it right we’re not looking for ways to penalize a student okay so you have you know one word spelled wrong you may be put forward the fairfield oh my gosh I did that right no way can’t believe it okay I don’t need you to send me an email and then say I made a mistake let me send you a new one and this has happened before and I get a new one and I have the old one they get the new one literally I know the mistake is there and then they you know spelling and grammar are important okay but unless it’s consistent okay and it’s bad writing and it’s not a big deal okay yes I say you know what that’s unfortunate that’s too bad right but more often not if you use the one word that’s okay but this is why what did Sharon say before proofread okay hopefully you’ve proof read this essay so when you said it it is in good shape but just know that you you find out oh my god i spelled this word wrong you know more often than not it’s okay all right so don’t go crazy about that kind of stuff but I just like to make sure people know that okay parents parents in the room raise your hand if you’re a parent I know with Dino your parents but it’s like these single you guys out okay okay here’s there’s my most important piece of advice for the eat for you guys okay do not give your students they are top same way research says that ninety percent of students say though parents are part of the process and one hundred percent of parents say that they are part of their students process alright and that’s actually true research okay but that’s fact right but parents are saying wait a second I can’t help them I can guide them I no no no no I didn’t say that do not give them their top do not tell them how they’re going to do this prompt okay and I say that right because the students need to choose their topic and they need to own their topic it is there I say they are applying to college it’s wonderful that you’re helping them it’s wonderful you’re providing this opportunity for them especially if you’re going to be helping them pay for it right but they’re the ones applying it’s a ver transcript that I’m reading and it better be there sa that I’m reading too okay they did the work in classes they better be the work on the essay and they better sell it to me so they got to own that topic okay if they can’t write it without your help or your memory it’s not the right time okay it’s not the right time okay reflect on the time when you were chit when you challenged to believe for an idea reflect on the time okay so that maybe is a time in the past all right mama was a time when I challenge to believe her idea can help me out with that well there was a time in fifth grade wait a second hold on let’s back up the truck okay guys right no no you can’t students ask that question reflect on the time when you challenge ably friend idea oh I know that time okay right i’m going to write that essay you are owning the topic you know it if you don’t have an answer skip next one what’s another one okay this is important parents you can advise your students you can ask them questions why why why and I say this because they’re going to have to answer them answer a question right why are you choosing that topic why are you saying this why are you saying that this is helpful parents you have the life experiences to help guide them as they figure out how to get through this topic and really find out what they’re going to say right but you shouldn’t be saying you know I think you should do this or I think you should do that I think you should write it like this have you thought about adding this in if they haven’t thought about it right it’s probably just not going to be natural for them that’s something Sharon said right they have to it just has to come out of me it’s just to be there just be something you as a student are putting out there okay now students write your essay should be something important and or interesting to you okay now this doesn’t necessarily go as much with some of these prompts but it can write because I know students are gonna be creative and try and find a way to fit them in still right I’ve seen enough essays okay the most important thing about you right there are most word that you want to tell me I should say right is that your life is just like five flavors of ice cream rocky road mint your kid vanilla chocolate right all right for girls you could say you know or that you own a lot of shoes and those shoes symbolize your life in certain ways you know I ballet slippers you know my high heel shoes flats right wonderful great can it cannot be the most interesting thing about you and if you’re using it as a device to tell something interesting about you right remove the device and see if you can write something just take that interesting thing and just tell me about it okay so as we think about these prompts and as you guys are doing this going forward right describe a place or an environment of you feel perfectly content that I love this question this is a great question and turntable you hadn’t told me that I love that example right that’s a wonderful example but I can I have another one as well right because I had a student this year who wrote about a cottage say that her family has in Cape Cod Minh to go in there since she was two years old they go every summer you know it’s our grandparents cottage wonderful but there is no cell phone service no internet and no television right now that’s okay right when you’re a little kid you go to the beach whatever and then but once you start going to cell phone and yeah hey you’re rely on the internet and then you’re taken to a place where you don’t have it no it’s challenging and her essay was about this experience right where she feels content because she gets taken out of that world and she gets to go for a run on the beach she gets to go and see the world and live life as if technology was not a part of it right and then when she comes back and her essay was not this prompt obviously but it fits that prompt perfectly right because she was able to say what do you experience there and why is it meaning to you the meaning is that she can live life with less technology she knows how to separate herself from her phone right from the internet how she can go outside and actually see what life is like you know so that’s something to really think about but these are great things that you need to consider okay what’s interesting about you right there’s everybody in this room has a unique story to tell has something unique that they’ve experienced you just haven’t figured it out yet parents probably cap but students you just haven’t realized it yet right just haven’t realized yet you haven’t thought about it but there’s gonna be something that you think it’s dumb you think it’s lame just way of telling that to anybody why would I use that as an example and guess what it’s usually the best one out there because it’s so unique to you and it’s so interesting to us right and I read some of these essays I’m just like this dude is so cool I’m so so excited right now all right because I read a lot of these you know read 4,000 essays give or take over my fine at Fairfield right so I want to know something about you that really makes you stand out and tells tells me that story about you but a story can be in any one of these prongs okay nope here’s one that I don’t necessarily know if it fits into these props anymore but I think it’s important you just to factor in as you continue thinking right I learned to appreciate X I’m going to appreciate life because that happened to me therefore I learned to appreciate life or I learned to appreciate the things that my parents have fought for me are learning to appreciate you know this or that in my car I learned it wonderful that you’ve learned to appreciate it how have you learned to appreciate it right that’s something that I want to talk about answering the question before right a lot of times students go two steps without going the right you went on a service trip and now you appreciate the things that you have in your life okay and then it ends ride off into the sunset what I would like to have is what have you done now let’s say you’re from darien connecticut you went to you know dominican republic and you help people build a house you know and they’re so appreciative of your help and you’re okay now what do you now what do you do did you just come back and go live your life you live in your house and you have your car and you know things are great or are you now doing something to you know now this year you have decided that you know the trip needs to be have more attendance the trip you need more money for things you need to bring in more donations or bring stuff to them right to these these families down so now this year until the next trip you are going to fund raiser okay now we’ve gotten that third layer that third stay okay that third piece to the puzzle that says that you learn something right so an instant is you know this is sort of where the failure thing comes in right where it’s how did it affect you okay I learned to appreciate life right what lessons did you learn but how did it shape you okay these are the things that I really want students to think about as they begin crafting these topics you have to do this this is why it takes time cuz you’re saying yourself I don’t even know where to begin I know to start this is too much ha right okay I want you guys to think about these things so that it becomes natural and it just flows natural and as that sa starts pouring out right you’re saying oh my god I have so much tonight this is great then you say I have a 650 word limit but when you have so much to write you get to tailor what you how you want to say it right rather than struggling to get to 650 words because you don’t know what you’re saying okay now last but not least what was the first thing the essay is about you okay you’re going to talk about an event how did it affect you what lessons did you learn right how did it affect you if you’re writing about somebody write an accomplishment or vedant formal informal that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood with in your culture community or family okay it’s a lot of words right i’m gonna guess number five is not going to be the most popular i’ll just tell you guys that right now I’m gonna gets number one’s going to be the most popular it’s the you know what’s that Jade think boat where you do these things because they’re easy or me not because they’re easy to do it because they’re hard right it’s not the college essay ok college essay is how can I get this done and get it over with ok but we want you to think we want to think like JK we want you to do you know about it’s got to be hard usually when it’s hard my best work comes out ok but if you’re going to write about an event or somebody else or something else right don’t forget to write about yourself always about you it’s your story it’s your experiences it’s your life it’s your essay it’s your application right hopefully it’s your college if you’re applying to okay when i read an essay i look for honesty and i look for cash need an i read an essay i look for honesty and i look for passion many people might just look for spelling and grammar that’s why you gotta ask spelling grammar doesn’t bother me because usually I know how hard you worked then it takes some time but if you’re going to give me something so bland and so boring usually I’m saying really guys really had some time to write this you know I do a lot you know as a read a lot of these essays and there’s a lot of another pretty gland write the essay is an important piece of the pump to the college application puzzle but of course your grades are important piece as well right we need to make sure that you are academically capable of the admitted to the school that you’re applying to at the same time right you’re academically capable right what type of human being are you there for the university’s a Jesuit school we care about you know cura personalis right the whole person so for us we really delved into the type of individual that you are and your experiences in your life and all of those things and so that’s why these problems i like because they really will require you to do some soul-searching and really dig in self-reflection and find something you know did something out okay but turn kind of said this it’s easy to tell when a student has just picked a topic right to write about rather than a topic they they want to write about we’ve picked a topic to write about rather than pick the topic they want to write about so that’s where I say people are grounded probably pick number one tell us your story Oh have I got a story for you right usually it’s probably just an okay it’s pretty now say waiting I spent so much comments how much time did you think about it before you wrote you want to tell me about that place or that environment where you’re perfectly content and here’s one thing that touches on that I just want to reiterate but kind of take her a little bit with right don’t go too much overboard with the detail okay and I say this because if you are at the beach let’s say we meet up or the beach right if you tell me that you know you’re at the beach I can figure out that you know you tell me you’re a cape cod right I don’t need to know you know that the ocean breeze and the Sandra soft and you know in the water isn’t it usually if you’re tell me a cape cod I’m probably gonna say oh I do it right ok good a feel for that ok good right little bit of detail is helpful overwhelming detail we are telling me each and every little thing right ok but when do you get to the point when do you get to the point what’s the S with the essay vApp right so describe a place for an environment this where you think describe a place so i have to describe the place right but if it is an actual place right cape cod that’s good thing right if it’s a place that I’ve never heard of ok yes you need to describe it but you don’t need to go to an in depth with that detail so just make sure you’re figuring that piece out that’s important okay now that’s it for me I apologize remember June time right work on this think of topics let them breathe right this is helpful okay but i want to touch on three separate things as an admissions person that i think are helpful for you generally as you go in right everybody is there right students are juniors anybody not a junior okay so you guys are all getting response okay for the parents I saw parents raise their hand I’ve done this before yeah hey I’m a pro I know I okay good wonderful hey few myths I just want a deep bump ok people have done this before they haven’t done it before if you miss I want to debunk before we close out okay people like me are not nice oh wait a second I’m a nice guy we figure that out okay right admissions people are nice our job is to communicate with you our job is to help you out okay when we’re at a college fair right we want to talk to you and communicate with you so you can come up to us and that’s more towards of students parents you’ll come up those asses your question of a student’s you can come up to us and ask us questions right I have a proclivity to give people high five so really sorry but you might get you might get one if you ask you a question yeah okay so that’s one we’re nice people we want to help you we want to do our best to help you out if we’re really busy and we seem like or a little angry right if we’ve really you know stress there’s a lot going on but we’re nice people we’re trying to help you guys out okay don’t visit the campus in the summer impossible don’t do it please don’t write wait a second let’s flip that on its head okay i’m at my office in the summer I’m there every day right we have ten you know six to ten students to work an hour off in the summers jeep tours all summer right when you’re looking at a college campus right usually the most free time you have is in the Sun okay for the first time right seeing college campus it’s okay to not have students there because you’re trying to get a feel for the campus and everything that it offers and usually it’s a little bit more open and you can breathe a little bit more while you’re there you kind of feel like okay we get a feel for this place right do I like what I’ve heard here let me go back when students are in section I follow up right add that extra leg and use like use an example of a safari Sun air in this earlier tonight okay go to Safari watch people in a natural habitat they don’t care what you’re doing who you are more often than not students are walking to class getting their mail getting food you’re trying to live their life right you’re there to watch them what I want you to do is go there kind of get a feel for whether you like this place whether you want to be and do those things right and then you add that extra layer of students to say okay now I like what I’m seeing and now if you’re seeing campuses this spring wonderful that’s great but don’t avoid campuses in the summit we offer a lot of programming that can be very helpful to you in the summertime okay parents can’t call for their students yes you can students you don’t you don’t see there you know your name later and say oh look mom called three times for this kid no can’t admit them okay no we can all right we’re going to mix you based on your record your application all of those things if your parents are calling because you’re at school because you’re at work there’s things that they want to clarify it’s perfectly fine okay so don’t worry about those things right and last but not least because I saw somebody holding a fist guidebook notice there’s still not know this guy’s in the front row so those all right guy books and the internet okay now are the gospel that’s the myth and I say that right because guide books in the internet are very helpful they are two resources out of a handful of resources that you can use when you’re visiting a college campus now some people might say well if you talk to admission counselor they’re really going to tell you a positive things in their school so I have to get the Internet you’re the negative things about the school but then you think about the posts on the internet are usually very negative about of school because usually people we’re posting about a school in the internet are usually posting negative so where do I get my information get in all different places okay okay the fist guide and the Barons die they go on our website they request the information from us right they send out surveys to current students those student can write whatever they want those surveys right right if they write false information about fairfield we don’t get to check it right and I mean if they write something blatantly false about the school Barron’s publishes it we go get a check okay so I just want to make sure that you guys know these things not because I want to tell you all the positive things about certain schools but just know that all these resources are helpful as you go through the process if you’ve done this before you might be know what you’re doing if you’re going through this the first time you’re you know maybe you’re a first generation student your parents didn’t go to school and this is really the first time ever you’re going through this right know that there’s a lot of resources out there and everybody wants to help you guys out okay thank you so much for listening tonight I really appreciate it will be here for questions when you’re done but feel free to come down and ask them individually we can you can touch on those when we’re done okay thank you guys you


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