The College Essay Chopping Block: Future Plans

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The College Essay

  • The College Essay

Chopping Block: Future Plans

  • What plans do you have for your future?
  • What college are you hoping to attend and what major do you plan to study?
  • Why have you made these choices?
  • Discuss.
  • In years from now, what career do you hope to pursue?
  • If you are unsure about your future plans, write about your thoughts and dreams for your future. Where you hope to be in about ten years time? What kind of job do you think you want? What things are you particularly good at or enjoy?

Writing Tips

  • Use your own voice
  • Be adventurous and unconventional
  • Write about what you know
  • Let the essay “sit”, then revisit it a few days
  • later
  • Remember – this is NOT an English paper
  • Be honest and open
  • HOMEWORK: Bring in the college prompt from one of the colleges to which you are thinking of applying. Be sure to bring in any other information such as length etc.

READERS Love to see…

  • Pure pleasure and intellectuality
  • Ideas that are personal and simple
  • Calculated risks that show personality
  • The first sentence should be masterful!
  • Clear sense of engagement
  • Colorful metaphors
  • Natural / unique voice
  • A subtle and interesting revelation

Other Dos!

  • Keep focus narrow and personal
  • OKAY
  • “I like to be surrounded by people with a variety of backgrounds”
  • “During the night, I sang the theme from Casablanca with a baseball coach who thinks he’s Bogie, discussed Marxism with a little old lady, and heard more than I ever wanted to know about a woman’s gall bladder operation.”
  • OKAY
  • “I want to help people, I have gotten so much out of life through the love and guidance of my family. I feel that many individuals have not been as fortunate; therefore, I would like to expand the lives of others.”
  • “ My Mom and Dad stood on the sideline ‘til their shoes filled with water or their fingers turned white, or somebody’s golden retriever signed his name on their coats in mud. I think that kind of commitment is what I’d like to bring to working with fourth-graders.

Be Careful:

  • Don’t tell the reader what you think her or she expects
  • This is NOT a resume! (No autobiography, travelog,or laundry list!)
  • Avoid using 50 words when 1 will do – channel the “320”. Use carefully chosen vocabulary. Make every word count!
  • OKAY
  • “Over the years it has been pointed out to me by my parents, friends, and teachers – and I have even noticed this about myself as well – that I am not the neatest person in the world”
  • “I’m a slob!”

Things to be avoided!

  • Cutesy, trite and cliché!
  • It remains to be seen Needless to say
  • As I was saying As luck would have it
  • View with alarm Proud possessor of
  • Last but not least From the ridiculous to the sublime
  • Few and far between None the worse for wear
  • Reign supreme Cut to the chase
  • Better late than never In this day and age
  • Back in the day To all intents and purposes

Avoid con’d

  • Passive Voice
  • In sentences written in PASSIVE VOICE, the subject receives the action expressed in the verb; the subject is acted upon.
  • Passive Voice The boy was bitten by the dog.
  • ACTIVE VOICE: The dog bit the boy

Be Sure to AVOID

  • Overblown language:
  • Profanity
  • Essay written for ANOTHER school
  • Emotional
  • Ingratitude
  • Resume
  • Forced humor

Risque Topics!

  • Humor
  • Sex
  • Brushes with the law

The Editor(s)

  • Someone who has a background in English instruction
  • Friend or sibling to ensure that the “voice” of the essay is your own

Instructions for UC Applications August 1 Application opens for applicants for fall 2015. November1-30 Submission period for applicants for fall 2015.  

  • Your personal statement should be exactly that — personal. This is your opportunity to tell us about yourself — your hopes, ambitions, life experiences, inspirations. We encourage you to take your time on this assignment. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it honestly.
  • As you respond to the essay prompts, think about the admissions and scholarship officers who will read your statement and what you want them to understand about you. While your personal statement is only one of many factors we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.
  • Directions:
  • All applicants must respond to two essay prompts — the general prompt and either the freshman or transfer prompt, depending on your status.
  • Responses to your two prompts must be a maximum of 1,000 words total.
  • 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.
  • Freshman applicant prompt
  • 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 for all applicants
  • 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?

Common Application: Check deadline dates (based on college) – CHECK THIS YEAR’S TOPICS

  • There are changes from last year:
  • 650 word limit (up from 500)
  • No “topic of your choice”
  • Here are the 2015 Common Application Essay Prompts with Instructions: Instructions. The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The Common App won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
  • •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.

Azusa Pacific Application Deadline: ?

  • Azusa Pacific University is an institution built on Four Cornerstones, which define why APU exists:
  • Christ (God First since 1899!)
  • Transformational Scholarship (strong academic programs that develop your character and prepare you for your future)
  • Life-giving Community (a campus environment that encourages involvement and dynamic relationships)
  • Sacrificial Service (a culture of serving others and giving of yourself)
  • We'd love to know more about you! Please briefly describe why APU's
  • Christian environment appeals to you in 500 words or less
  • CHECK – These are 2013 prompts!

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