Many high-schoolers picture big lecture halls and pulling all-nighters with a pile of books in the library when the term college academics comes up. The fact of the matter is that few high schoolers have any idea what to expect from college, and end up pretty shocked for most of the first semester.Read More
ACT & SAT Prep and College Admissions Blog
What are you selling?
When you are preparing to submit your college applications, keep in mind that what you’re selling is YOU. Figuratively speaking, of course. Think of the college app process in the same way as applying for a job. You want to make a great first impression, don’t you? That means taking the time to carefully read about the application process for each school to which you apply. (No. They are not all the same.) Having the required test scores and GPA are the first hurdles. The next hurdle? Choosing a prompt and writing an essay. Or writing several essays. So, how and where do you begin? And how do you know if you’ve written a fresh, unique essay? You need an editor.
A good editor makes corrections on your draft.
A great editor personally invests in you, understands the college application process and the nuances of it, works with you from concept to conclusion, and can guide you through the writing process, capitalizing on your strengths and transforming your challenges.
I’ve been asked many times as an editor, Does the essay really matter?
The answer is a resounding, Yes! Especially to schools where the admissions selection is highly competitive. You must take writing your essay(s) very seriously. That means preparing to write early. As soon as the College Board releases the prompts. Many schools require supplemental essays tailored specifically to them. Don’t wait until the day submissions are due to start writing. You will not do your best work.
If you are only applying to schools that accept the Common App, you will have a choice of seven prompts from which to choose one. What if none of the prompts resonates with you? Part of what I do as an editor is work with students to guide them in selecting and narrowing a topic and get their creative juices flowing. This process is different for each person. Some of your peers can read the prompts and quickly realize that something speaks to them. Don’t get frustrated if this doesn’t happen for you. You will get there. Sometimes the route from point A to point B is direct and sometimes there are detours with scenery that need to be taken in. The common thread is that no matter your writing skills, you can benefit from a professional editor. Even AP English students and valedictorians need guidance from a professional.
Although I have worked with students at different stages in their writing processes, I encourage you to work with an editor before you have completed a first draft to ensure that you are on the right path.
I know it can be disappointing to finish a draft only to learn that you didn’t address the prompt. If you are considering working with an editor, start the conversation from the planning stage. I offer a 15-minute complimentary consultation, which is a great opportunity to share preliminary thoughts. I can also review a writing sample to assess your writing skills before I even start the clock! Shop around. There are lots of editors out there and, like many services these days, plenty of them can work remotely with you.
Your English teachers should be your best first resource, but you may need to reach out beyond them. Their free time is valuable (I know because I used to be one) and they may not have the luxury of giving your essay the time and attention it needs. Some students hope their guidance or college counselor can provide feedback, but you are probably better served by an editor. You wouldn’t go to a dentist to get an eye exam. Don’t go to a counselor to edit your essay. Same goes with relatives and family pets!
When applying to your dream school, remember that you are presenting the best version of yourself. Why not use the best resources?
About the Author
Maureen Adras is a freelance editor of everything, writer, and owner of The Essay Gal, specializing in assisting high school seniors write and polish their college essays. She lives in Temecula, California where she edits, paints furniture, knits, bakes, cooks, and loves on her family. Maureen has a BA in English Education and an MA in Creative Writing. She published a non-fiction book about her personal experience with endometriosis, infertility, and adoption. Maureen is passionate about teaching writing and feeding songbirds, and she is humbled by people with green thumbs. You can find her at www.TheEssayGal.com.
You may have heard it said before that applying to college is a “process,” and it really is. Additionally, every student’s process is different. However, there are some typical stages a student may go through to find their ideal college, and in this blog we outline them for you.
We recommend that students seriously begin the college process during their junior year. If students or families are college-focused, there are things freshman and sophomores can do, but they mostly revolve around earning strong grades and getting involved in activities. Toward the middle of junior year, students can kick- off the college process by determining what qualities they want in an ideal college. Students should consider size, location, major, and other factors to create an initial list of schools.
During the next stage of the process, students will research potential colleges online, in books, through campus visits and other ways. By learning more about colleges, students can determine which schools they really like and which ones they don’t. They can also determine which criteria are more important than others (ie, “It’s really important to me that the school has an equestrian program, so I’ll look at schools smaller than I initially wanted.”) During this stage, it’s important that students verbalize their goals and be realistic about their expectations. It’s also helpful when families plan college visits and attend college-sponsored information sessions.
When it comes time to apply to colleges, the stress level can be at an all-time high. Deadlines, essays, resumes, interviews... the list goes on and it can be a lot for a student to manage alone. Parents, school counselors, admission counselors and college counselors are all helpful resources to help students during this time.
At some point, hopefully earlier rather than later, families need to have a conversation about the cost of college and how to pay for it. Honesty is the best policy; parents should let students know what their realistic options are. Students may need to add less expensive colleges to the list, apply to schools where they are likely to receive a grant, and/or apply for scholarships.
The final stage of the process is usually the favorite one, but it doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Once a student has (hopefully) a few acceptances to various colleges, the family needs to sit down and weigh the pros and cons of each school. Sometimes it’s an easy decision, but occasionally it’s really difficult. Families need to have these discussions and come up with a decision that everyone is happy with.