Writing Successful College Applications

Writing Successful College Applications

by Cynthia Muchnick


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Peterson's Writing Successful College Applications offers outstanding suggestions and detailed expert advice to help students create a college application package that will help them stand out from a crowd of competitive candidates.

‘It’s more than just the essay.’ This guide reviews all the components of a successful college application process in an honest and engaging way.

  • This new book offers proven strategies to help students craft a successful essay or personal statement, with tips and insights to guide them through the writing process.
  • There are over 50 sample personal statements from successful students plus bonus information on how to write strong activity and academic paragraphs to highlight your leadership and teamwork skills.
  • The guide provides advice and writing tips on the all-important "Why This School" paragraph to emphasize the student’s interest.

Interviews with Deans of Admission offer valuable information on what colleges are really looking for in an admission essay. Often, it’s not what you think. Be unique and bright - but also have a great story that will make you memorable. If the Dean is still thinking about your personal statement two days later, it achieved its purpose.

Today's multiple college applications involve writing more than just one long essay. The myriad required paragraphs and supplemental statements demand skill, finesse, tenacity, and patience.

Peterson's Writing Successful College Applications reminds the reader that what defines the application are the little details like:

  • biographical information
  • GPA and transcript
  • standardized tests
  • strong letters of recommendation
  • extracurricular and volunteer activities on a resume
  • A writing project or art or music portfolio add to the memorability factor, if the student has talent or writing skills to showcase.

The advice about writing an essay that only this student could write is excellent. Be unique and tell your own story. But remember - ‘It’s more than just the essay.’

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780768938890
Publisher: Peterson's
Publication date: 09/03/2014
Pages: 295
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Cindy Clumeck Muchnick is a graduate of Stanford University and a former Assistant Director of Admission at the University of Chicago. For 15 years, she ran an educational consulting business, privately counseling students on course selection, study skills, time management, and the college application process. Currently, Cindy is busy writing books and speaking to parent and student organizations. Her website, www.cynthiamuchnick.com, Twitter @CollegeAps, and the Facebook pages for each of her nine books provide further details. She lives with her husband and four children in Newport Beach, California.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 Writing from Your Heart and Mind: A College Essay That Only You Could Write 1

Questions to Answer: Self-Reflection Activity 2

The Essay Questions 3

Where to Begin? 8

Final Word of Warning: Plagiarism 10

Chapter 2 Dos and Don'ts in Writing Your College Application 11

Dos 11

Don'ts 14

Questions and Answers 16

Chapter 3 50+ Sample Essays 23

Taking Risks and Conquering Fears 24

Role Models, Teachers, and Heroes-Learning from Others in Unexpected Ways 34

Pursuing Passions and Hobbies 46

Family Reflections, Traditions, and Influences 62

Personal Setbacks and Self-Reflection 76

Work and Community 89

Academic and Philosophical Aspirations-The Thinking Essay 104

Cultural Identity and Personal Exploration 115

Humorous and Miscellaneous 134

Chapter 4 The Activity Paragraph 155

Activity Paragraph Dos and Don'ts 156

Activity Paragraph: Academic Experiences 159

Activity Paragraph: Community Service 162

Activity Paragraph: Extracurricular Activity 167

Activity Paragraph: Leadership 170

Activity Paragraph: My Job 170

Chapter 5 The Academic and "Thinking" Paragraph 173

Academic/Thinking Paragraph-Dos and Don'ts 174

Sample Paragraphs: Academic Passion 175

Sample Paragraphs: Intellectual Passion 184

Sample Paragraphs: Philosophical Ideas 187

Chapter 7 The "Why This School?" Question 191

Dos and Don'ts for Learning About a School 193

Sample "Why This School?" Essay Responses 196

Chapter 7 Supplemental Questions: Short Answers & Fill-in-the-Blanks 213

Sample Supplemental Essays 216

Chapter 8 Additional Information Sections 225

Additional Information Writing Samples 226

Including Positive Additional Information 230

Chapter 9 How to "Recycle" Your Writing 231

Tweaking Your "Why This College?" Essay 233

Another Novel Approach to "Why This School?" 240

Chapter 10 The Brag Sheet-Advice for Writing Your Resume 241

Sample "Brag Sheets" 244

Chapter 11 Interviews with Deans of Admission: Insights, Tips, and Wisdom 255

Bates College: Leigh Weisenburger, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid 256

Bucknell University: Robert G. Springall, Dean of Admissions 260

Duke University: Christoph Guttentag, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions 264

Occidental College: Vince Cuseo, Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid 268

University of Michigan: Theodore (Ted)Spencer, Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions 271

University of Notre Dame: Brian T. Lohr, Director of Admissions Operations and Management, Office of Undergraduate Admissions 273

University of Rochester: Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost and Dean of College Admission 276

University of Southern California (USC): Timothy Brunold, Dean of Admission 280

Vanderbilt University: Douglas L. Christiansen, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions 284

Wesleyan University: Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid 287

Concluding Remarks 291

Student Contributors 293

Application Websites 295

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