writing the college essay helen schermerhornmelissa lustig

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  • Writing the College EssayHelen SchermerhornMelissa Lustig

  • What is the purpose of the essay andwhy is it relevant?

  • What are the challenges to writing a well-crafted essay?

  • 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

  • Free Writing 10 minutes



  • Guidelines:1. Your Voice2. Do the work

    Remember:3. Answer the ?4. The point

  • The ProcessFinal PolishingReading aloudRole of College Counseling

    *Reflect on your concept*Examine structure, flow & presentation*Beginnings and endings*Edit. Edit. Edit.*Pick an essay question*Get ideas down- WRITE!*Find something in your writing that you like*Get input from others*Revisit. Revise. Rewrite.

    *Style & sentence structure*Tone and voice*Word choice and punctuation*Dialogue?

  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Dave Barry

    The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

    The beautiful part of writing is that you dont have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, brain surgery. Michael Crichton

    Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathanial Hawthorne

    Im not a very good writer, but Im an excellent rewriter. James Michener

    You cant wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. Jack London

    Welcome back from break. We have two and a half weeks before the end of the semester and this week we are focusing on the formidable college essay. We are joined today by someone who has seen a great many essays and worked with students for several years: Helen Schermerhorn. Helen is here to share with us her insights about what makes a great essay. Introduction from Helen.*What is the purpose of the college essay and why is it relevant?

    Admission officers want to know the real you beyond the transcript and the scores. They want to hear your voice and know your story. It is your opportunity to communicate directly with the admission officer similar to the way an interview allows you to put your personal stamp on your application. The essay shares who you are and how you function in the world. Your essay is your story. It is your ticket out of the faceless hordes of applicants. You have to decide how you want to be portrayed. What do you want the reader to know about you? Captivate your writer. Come alive on paper. It needs to be unique and memorable. Something only you could write about. Make them want to know you. Make them want to meet you. Make them want to read your essay.

    It reveals the quality of your writing, your style, your writing technique, your handle of the English language, your creativity. It should be clear and concise, simple but meaningful, elegant but entertaining to read.

    For supplements, it communicates your thought process about the college you are applying to. It demonstrates how interested you are and how much research you have done. For some colleges, they want to see if you can think outside the box and so they throw you a creative, eccentric, esoteric question that is typically unique to their institution. *What are the challenges to creating a well-crafted essay? Fear and InsecurityFear of failure What if it is not good enoughThe significance of it intimidates studentsWhere to start? Staring at the blank screen is entirely unavoidable. But the horror will pass.What to write about?Procrastination and distractionsLeaving it to the last minuteNot proofreading or spell-checkingIts just plain hard. Writing can be tough in general but writing about yourself can be even more challenging, especially if you are tapping into your emotions or reflecting on a difficult time in your life.Very few topics are off limits but Remember the focus needs to always return to youClich topics:The dying petThe torn ACL that changed your lifeFamily relativeThe travelogueOrphans and other unfortunate peopleRe-hashing your extracurriculars (the band camp essay)*