College Essay: English IV, Advanced Placement

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College Essay: English IV, Advanced Placement

Over the coming days we will discuss the college admissions process, the importance of the college essay, and the art and construction of the personal essay.

As the culmination of these discussions, you will choose one of this year’s college essay prompts (Common Application, Apply Texas, or other) and develop a 500 – 700 word (one page, single-spaced) personal essay that addresses the topic. Acknowledging that the topics may seem broad or even dull, it is your challenge to develop a unique and authentic response. Avoid the easy, clichéd, and predictable answers; instead take this opportunity to “speak” with the college admissions officer. What do you intend your essay to convey? What quality, characteristic, etc., do you want to highlight?
Note: This must be a “new,” original essay, born in this class, and written for this expressed assignment. You may not submit an essay that has been written for another purpose and then submitted to us for grading. (You may, however, continue to develop and refine an essay that is in its fledgling stage.)
If you have already written your college essays or are not required to submit essays, simply think of this assignment as a personal essay that you are required to write for English IV AP.
Please sign in the blank below to indicate your understanding that the college essay must be an original essay, written to meet the parameters of the English IV college essay assignment: ____________________________________.
Here are some tips to help you along:

  1. Colleges are looking less for a “correct” answer to the question and more at the applicant. What will your essay reveal about you as a student/writer, as a thinker, and as a citizen of the world?

  1. Don’t just reproduce your resume.

  1. Remember, this is a personal essay. Avoid a strict, 5 paragraph response and opt instead for a story, a single event or anecdote as your mode of communication.

  1. Your essay should show, not tell. Use the techniques of fiction to recreate the event. These techniques include plot structure, point of view, action verbs and dialogue, just to name a few.

  1. Voice and style are vital elements; a sense of humor is appreciated, as well.

  1. Think about the overall point you want to make. Don’t club your reader over the head with it (“And from this I learned that I should always…); instead construct your story so that the point is highlighted through action and dialogue.

  1. Remember who your audience is, and construct your response in an appropriate manner.

  1. Demonstrate your skill with the English language: correct spelling and punctuation, varied sentence length and style, and use of the active voice are indicators of a well-prepared college applicant. Errors in these areas suggest immaturity and a lack of concern. Is that the effect you want to achieve?

Your essays are due at the beginning of the period on ­­­­____________________ and will count as an exam grade.

Grading Rubric – College Essay
The following criteria will be used to assess your college essay assignment. As the essay is not composed within the confines of a timed-writing, but is developed with the benefit of time and resources, all essays are expected to be free of spelling and mechanical errors. Essays that display problems in these areas will score no higher than a “C”, no matter how strong their content.
Your essays will be read holistically (for their overall effect) and viewed the eyes of a would-be college admissions specialist.
A : You will be granted college entrance on the basis of your essay alone, independent the details of your high school transcript. It is lively, fresh and engaging; it addresses the prompt in a unique and fresh manner, whether achieved through the writer’s style, stance, reflection, etc.
B: Although it cannot stand alone as the “A” essay does, the “B” essay still exhibits a strong background in writing. Combined with a strong academic record this essay suggests that the student would likely be granted college admissions. “Miss America” essays, “Chicken Soup” essays, and canned responses lacking in sincerity fall into this category and will earn no higher score than an 80.
C: The “C” essay fulfills the requirement for the college essay, but it does so in a manner that does nothing to either add to or detract from possible college admissions. It is, in essence, neutral: nothing gained, nothing lost.
D: The “D” essay detracts from the student’s academic record and suggests that the academic record should be closely scrutinized before granting admissions.
F: The “F” essay fails to fulfill the requirements established by and suggests that the student is not an appropriate candidate for college admissions.


By Langston Hughes

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it's that simple?...

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