Why do colleges require essays?
Because nothing tells them as much about you as your own written response to a question. Admission counselors use your essay to measure, among other things, your degree of confidence, level of maturity, ability to communicate ideas rationally, and potential for getting along with others in a diverse population.
What can we do to help?
First and foremost, we don't write your essay for you. That would not only be dishonest, but would defeat the purpose. No, writing the essay is up to you. But what we can do is give you pointers and useful feedback. We'll tell you what parts of your draft are strong or weak, where you need more or less detail, whether the impressions your essay makes are positive or negative, and most importantly how effectively your essay portrays your own uniqueness as a college applicant.
How does the Essay Workshop work?
The goal is to finish your essay in just two weeks! We will meet 6 times as a small group of 4-5 students with a common goal but individual paths. Here's how:
As a group we will...
As an individual you will...
12-hour College Application Essay Workshop - 2 weeks, 3 days per week OR Sundays only, $650. Nothing says more about you than your college essays! In this workshop, we will help you decide how to choose from the list of essay questions on the Common Application, show you how to develop a useful essay outline, give you pointers on showcasing your personality effectively, and provide useful feedback on all your drafts. In each class you will also have multiple opportunities to examine and critique actual essays written by successful college applicants that reveal the surprising range of creative approaches possible.
Q: How many essays will I write in the workshop?
A: As many as you want, but our goal is to complete at least one.
Q: Does my essay have to be for the Common Application questions?
A: No, you can bring any essay question you like, from any application.
Q: Can I bring an essay I've already written?
A: Absolutely. In fact, most of what we will do in the workshop relates to editing essays.
Q: What if I don't want to share my essay with others?
A: Sharing your essay or ideas is optional. You can still benefit from others' sharing theirs, however. The important thing is to get from the workshop what you need to improve your own essay.
Q: What about questions on my college application(s) requiring short responses?
A: These responses should always be taken as seriously as your longer essay response. Of course, you can apply our workshop principles to answering these as well, and you can either do them in class or bring them already written for review and feedback.
1. Good essays are written by people who are just great at writing.
Fiction. The most successful essays are the result of copious editing. If anything, great writers are first of all great editors. College admission committees recommend that you rewrite your application essays at least five times before submitting your official versions. And do a lot of editing between drafts! Why? Because the secret to great writing is rewriting.
2. Every essay should have a minimum of 5 paragraphs.
Fiction. The 5-paragraph rule was intended to ensure that a student's essay had a beginning, an end, and a substantial middle (usually 3 paragraphs). Many memorable essays are a single paragraph long! So don't be hampered by arbitrary rules. Essays have a completely open format.
3. Grammar is important.
Fact. This is true regarding planned essays. These writings are in part representative of your scholastic achievement and the care you take with your work. In contrast, an extemporaneous essay, like the one on the SAT, is judged on a different basis, one which forgives minor grammatical flaws while focusing on your ability to stay on point. For this reason, your application essay is subjected to higher standards.
4. My sentences have to be complete, complex thoughts with both a subject and predicate.
Fiction. Sometimes a single word is more powerful than an entire paragraph, and many of the world's greatest writers use single words or short phrases to express their thoughts. Really! No kidding? Wow! True that!
5. Longer essays are better than shorter ones.
Fiction. Once someone asked author Earnest Hemingway if he could write a story in 6 words, to which he responded: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never used.” The best essay is on the one which communicates an idea or position clearly, regardless of length. A short essay, however, must be very effective and include enough information to convey the underlying thought(s) completely.
6. Writing is difficult for everyone.
Fact. Ask any author, “Which is easier, writing or performing physical labor?” and he or she won't hesitate to say the latter. People who seem able to write a lot seem so because they work at writing all the time. Earnest Hemingway put it this way: It is easier to dig a 6-foot ditch by hand than it is to write 100 choice words.