Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts

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  • Writing Great College Application Essays That Pop: Orange County School of the Arts!!! Rebecca Joseph, PhDrjoseph@calstatela.edufacebook: getmetocollege freeadviceIPhone App/Google App: All College Application EssaysThis powerpoint is on slideshare.net/getmetocollege

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  • To get us startedOn a piece of paper, list your (or your childs)Three activities or accomplishments of which you are the most proud?Three major ways you have shown leadership or initiative?Three artistic experiences you are most proud of?

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  • The Power and Danger of Essays1. Give me two reasons why admissions officers value college application essays.

    2. Give me two reasons why they often dread reading the majority of them.

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  • Essays=OpportunityShareReflectStand Out

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  • How Important Are Essays?

    GradesRigor of Coursework, SchoolTest ScoresEssays*Recommendations-Teacher and/or CounselorActivities-Sustained consistency, development, leadership, and initiativeSpecial skills, talents, awards, auditions, portfolios, community service and passions

  • Do College Admissions Essays Matter?

    Essays are not a substitute for a rigorous curriculum, good grades and evidence that you're going to do well,

    Still, the essay can make a difference.

    The first challenge for the writer: picking

    a topic.

    Any topic can work or fail.

    The biggest problem for students is

    starting with too wide a focus. "By the time they get to the details, they run out of space. I'm all for cutting to the chase."

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  • So.Tip 1Tip 1. College essays are fourth in importance behind grades, test scores, and the rigor of completed coursework in many admissions office decisions. Dont waste this powerful opportunity to share your voice and express what you really offer to a college campus. Great life stories make you jump off the page and into your match colleges.

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  • A New ParadigmTip 2. Develop an overall strategic essay writing plan. College essays should work together to help you communicate key qualities and stories not available anywhere else in your application.

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  • Essays = OpportunityTake control over the highest ranked non-academic aspect of the applicationShare their voiceExpress who they really areShow (not tell) stories that belong only to them and help them jump off the pageChallenge stereotypesReflect on their growth and development, including accomplishments and serviceSeek to understand what the admission officer is looking for

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  • What DO Admissions Officers Seek?

    ContextValuesCommitment/Depth of InterestsInteraction with and/or perception by othersSpecial talents and qualities Realistic self-appraisal

    A better understanding of your background, which could help put the rest of the application in context.An understanding of why certain experiences or people have been so important to you, and thus something about what you value.A sense of an intellectual bent, a playful mind, or a sense of humor.A sense of your commitment to the things that most interest you and of how those interests developed.A sense of the way you interact with others and/or are perceived by them.An understanding of a special talent you would bring to the college or a special quality you might add to a residential community.A good, and realistic, sense of the flesh-and-blood person behind the paper.

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  • Ultimatelyadmissions officers want to know yourImpactInitiative

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  • Understand the Different Types of ApplicationsHelp students understand the landscape:

    The Common Application Large Public Universities Private College Specific Applications Other Systems (Conservatories, Universal Application, etc.)

  • Four Major Application Types: 1. The Common ApplicationMany private and some public American use the centralized Common Application with their own Writing supplementsMore than 650 colleges use it.www.commonapp.orgDont start writing any essays until you see all the essays required for your top schools. My app-All College Application Essays has the requirements.

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  • 1. Common Application EssaysOne Long/ 250-650 words Paste in. 1.Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.If this sounds like you, then please share your story.2.The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success.Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again.4.Describe a problem youve solved or a problem youd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

    Activities: The Common Application leaves room for 10 activitiesAdditional Information: The Common Application allows you to add additional information. Accepts up to 650 words.Supplemental EssaysThey range from one line to 500 words. Some schools have one, while other have three. They can overlap. If it says optional, view it as mandatory.

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  • Common Application Writing SupplementsSome long U Penn, U Chicago (300-650 words)Some mediumStanford Some small Columbia, Brown

  • Evan Common ApplicationI was speechless when I saw my name on the cast list. I thought that there must have been a typo. After looking again, I realized that it was true, especially since all of the girls vying for parts were glaring at me. Without success, I tried to explain that I had no power over this decision.

    The fact that I, a 5 9 160 pound man, was cast as the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, one of the two leading female roles, began when my theatre class was reading through a student-written version of the play. I was almost through with a semi-long monologue when my teacher interrupted me to talk about his personal life. My class and I had formed a great relationship with him and we always talked back to him, even though we knew that talking back to a teacher usually meant bad news. So, I told him to be quiet, and he told me that if I talked like that one more time, he would cast me as the Queen of Hearts. I didnt put much thought into this, but I kept my mouth shut anyway.

    When I got to the audition room, I read for the Mad Hatter and the Caterpillar, the two characters that all the guys were trying out for. I started to head out when the teacher, who was also directing the show, told me to read for the Queen. I hesitated for a moment because that was the part that all of the girls were trying for, that and Alice. He explained that he thought it would be funny for the Queen to have a deep voice and hairy legs. I eventually read for her, but joined in with the rest of the cast when they thought it was all a joke.

  • After getting cast as the Queen, I quickly began to see what my teacher meant when he told me that it would add humor to the show if a boy were the Queen. I surprised myself at how much of the character I made my own. In fact, when the teacher came up to me one day and told me that a lot of my part was going to be improvised, I didnt feel nervous at all; if it was any other part I would have felt that I couldnt do it, but I felt so comfortable with the character that it didnt scare me.

    Eventually, the first night of the performance came, and I felt completely ready. I put on my huge costume, luckily without heels, and went to my teacher. The makeup took about two hours to complete, and all I could think about was how happy I was that my teacher decided not to put me in roller-skates because of the amount of times I fell over my long dress.

    When I stepped onto the stage, however, I was so engaged in my character that my acting and improvisation was spotless. Many people even believed that I was actually my music teacher because I looked and sounded just like her. They realized it was me when they saw my hairy legs underneath the gown I was wearing. Everybody was impressed and gave me the biggest round of applause I had ever received.

    Playing the Queen of Hearts made me think about what type of actor I want to be. I have become a character actor; I love putting on different voices and accents and wowing the entire school. I even ended up playing Lumire in Beauty and the Beast because I was the only one who could do a French accent. I have really grown in my acting capabilities over the years, and recently when I was cast as Doc Gibbs in Our Town, at least there were no senior citizens in my school there to glare at me for taking a part away from them.

  • Four Major Application Types: 2. Large Public UniversitiesMany large and most prominent public universities have their own applications. Universities of Arizona, California, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsinto name just someThey each have different essay requirements. They each have your report activities in a different way.But there are ways to use your other essays here as well.They have their own essays. You should gather their topics and look for ways to use your common application essay as one of your essays for the public colleges, and visa-versa.

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  • UC CaliforniaTwo essaysRespond to both prompts, using a maximum of 1,000 words total. You may allocate the word count as you wish. If you choose to respond to one prompt at greater length, we suggest your shorter answer be no less than 250 words.

    Prompt #1 (freshman applicants)-[Outside-In]Describe the world you come from for example, your family, community or school and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.Prompt #2 (all applicants) [Inside-Out]Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are.

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  • University of Texas Essay TipsDont tell us what you think we want to hear. The universitys essay readers dont have a perfect essay in mind as a matter of fact essays that sound like all the rest of them the essay that is expected is more likely to be overlooked. Be yourself. Show us what makes you unique, how youve dealt with issues and problems, what you think about the topic at hand. Good writing teachers tell their students to write about what they know. Thats good advice for college essays, too. Use a natural voice and style. Although its always important to use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, diction, etc., dont write to try to impress anyone. Use words and a style that are appropriate for the topic youre writing about, for someone your age, and for someone whos trying to communicate clearly and logically. Dont be overly informal either. Your essay will be read by an adult professional. In almost all cases, you should avoid using words or phrases that you might use when texting someone or on a social networking site. Develop your ideas. Although the length of your essay alone technically doesnt matter, developing your ideas completely does matter. If you can do that in a single page of text, thats good; but if it takes you three pages or so, thats alright, too (as long as youre not just adding words to make your essay longer). Its not realistic to assume that you can clearly communicate your unique perspective about anything in a short paragraph or two. Organize your thoughts. All good writing has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That doesnt mean you should be formulaic in your writing (this isnt a high school exit exam), but you should introduce your idea, provide interesting examples and details in support of your idea, and come to some sort of conclusion at the end. Dont respond to the prompt as though youre answering a question. Again, we dont have a perfect essay in mind. The prompt is supposed to get your mind churning, to make you want to tell us what you think about something thats important to you. Your essay is your opportunity to do that.

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  • Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point ParkFrom the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older brother, Neil, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor at age two. By age seven, when I was four, he developed Leukemia. He relapsed at age 15. All in all, hes had, and survived, cancer three times.

    Because of his illness and my familys dedication to helping him survive, I was never surprised when family members, teachers, and friends treated me differently from other kids. It was as if I were the one who was sick. I received just as much sympathy as my brother. I brushed it off; I became emotionally numb to the entire situation.

    However, strong emotions began to surface while I was in middle school, during Neils third round of cancer. I refused to allow myself to be angry about this new occurrence; after all, it was nobodys fault. However, having heard that often siblings of cancer patients tend to have major emotional issues, my parents, were concerned about me. I didnt want them to worry, so I struggled to keep myself busy by playing soccer, attending choir rehearsals, figure skating, and taking voice lessons. It wasnt until the eighth grade that I finally found my best emotional outlet: Musical Theatre.

  • Jessica-UC 1 along used for Point ParkFrom the moment I was born, I was plunged into a life of medical chaos. My older brother, Neil, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor at age two. By age seven, when I was four, he developed Leukemia. He relapsed at age 15. All in all, hes had, and survived, cancer three times.

    Because of his illness and my familys dedication to helping him survive, I was never surprised when family members, teachers, and friends treated me differently from other kids. It was as if I were the one who was sick. I received just as much sympathy as my brother. I brushed it off; I became emotionally numb to the entire situation.

    However, strong emotions began to surface while I was in middle school, during Neils third round of cancer. I refused to allow myself to be angry about this new occurrence; after all, it was nobodys fault. However, having heard that often siblings of cancer patients tend to have major emotional issues, my parents, were concerned about me. I didnt want them to worry, so I struggled to keep myself busy by playing soccer, attending choir rehearsals, figure skating, and taking voice lessons. It wasnt until the eighth grade that I finally found my best emotional outlet: Musical Theatre.

  • Finally, I found something for which I had talent. Finally, I found something to do while my parents were at the hospital. Finally, I found a way to channel all my emotions and energy. Finally, I found my voice, a real voice to which people would listen. Finally! The stage offered me a way to momentarily escape my pain. Thro...

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