The following post was written by a friend and colleague whose son recently went through the college admissions process. I asked her to share her insights into the experience, and she was generous enough to write this post. So for all you parents of smart B students who would rather be playing World of Warcraft than writing their college essays, know that there is hope. Spoiler alert: the writer’s son got into college, no one had a nervous breakdown, everyone is still on speaking terms and, perhaps most importantly, no one will have to go into permanent debt to fund his education.
Do you remember your own college search? Perhaps like me, your 17-year-old self probably got very little guidance from your parents. Did you take the SAT once or twice? I took it once. Did you get test prep? I didn’t. I was pretty passive about the whole thing. However, let me ask a question that is even more revealing of the difference in generations… Did you use a typewriter to do your applications? Even if your 17-year-old self would have appreciated the convenience of the online Common App, I bet he or she would look at the high school senior standing in your living room and be totally aghast at all the sturm und drang. (more…)
A few years back, a student with whom I had done a handful of SAT tutoring sessions asked me to help him with his college essay.
He was applying to a number of very selective schools, and while he was a solid, highly motivated candidate with excellent grades and recommendations, his scores were strong but not amazing. He did have a hook, but he was by no means a shoo-in. And since he wanted to go to medical school eventually, financial aid was also a consideration. The essay could be a real tip factor for him.
Understandably, he wanted it to be great.
Luckily, he had a clear — and very good — idea for a topic from the start, and we spent several weeks going back and forth with drafts, comments, etc. The usual. We hit the usual bumps and organizational issues, but all in all, it was pretty straightforward. When my student got stuck, I’d get him to just talk it out, and then let him take that material and mold it into something more coherent. (more…)
A few years ago, I was contacted by the mother of a former student who wanted me to tutor her younger son, a rising junior, for the ACT. I’d been pulled in to work with his older brother very late, after he’d already taken the test a ridiculous number of times (five, if I recall correctly), and by the time I got to him, he was convinced that he would fail yet again and never wanted to look at another ACT in his life.
This time, his mother was determined to avoid that kind of last-minute craziness. Her younger son, a rising junior, was a very hard worker and a straight-A student, but she knew had hadn’t learned any grammar in school and would need to be taught from the ground up. She was going to give him a loooong runway. (more…)
College application season is upon us again, and if you’re a rising senior or the parent of a rising senior just starting to pull a final list of colleges together, you might be starting to notice that the whole process is, well, a little bit complicated.
Everyone talks about the famous “college essay,” but in reality that should be “essays,” plural. And potentially lots of them. There is of course the main Common App personal statement, but what you might not realize until you actually sit down and begin adding schools is that many colleges have institution-specific supplements that include additional essay questions. (more…)