From the category archives:

Applying To College

College bound high schoolers:  starting to think about applying to college?  Make room on your desk next to the Common Application for a new college application from the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success.  For over a decade, the Common Application has been the major application source for college bound students. Over 600 schools currently […]

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Barbara Corcoran in her Park Ave Apartment

The first sentence is the most valuable real estate in your entire college application essay.  The first sentence is like a Park Ave. penthouse address in Manhattan—it’s impressive and memorable. Describe the person who might live in such a place. You might imagine someone like author and Shark Tank entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran in this photo:  […]

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Thinking of either the University of Michigan or Michigan State as an option for college?  Read on.  Despite the fact that I call Ann Arbor home (and for complete disclosure, I have a BA and MSW from the University of Michigan,) I am also a fan of Michigan State as an excellent option for college.  […]

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Use this essay topic calculator to evaluate which college application essay topics will be the most impressive and compelling.  Your idea might be strong in one or more of these categories: Recent situation with longevity Relationship to others How challenging? Related to interests in college? Amount of initiative? Uniqueness Amount of detail Word pictures Results […]

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What do you think of this new Essay Coaching cartoon? The idea came from seeing so many parents (and being one of those parents) who try their hardest to launch their college bound teen into the world of college, work, and beyond. This desire to help but confusion about “What can I do?” can create […]

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The gap year is a powerful tool for fostering maturity in students applying to college.

Some people love the “gap year” idea (a year without formal schooling between high school and college).  Others say, “Nose to the grindstone! Get it done!” Fortunately for our daughter Alison, who raced through high school in three years and then needed a breather, the concept of taking a gap year before college became popular […]

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Post image for Surprising New Way that Colleges Can Use College Application Essays

February 6, 2015  What can a psychology professor interested in the use of language find out when he runs 50,000 college admissions essays through a computer-programmed study? I was curious to learn the answer after reading a USA Today article about a University of Texas study, “When Small Words Foretell Academic Success: The Case of […]

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Post image for Seven Secrets For Writing Standout College Application Essays

Oct 16, 2014. In my seventh year speaking in the St Clair County KnowHow2Go Ask an Expert Series, I presented “Seven Secrets for Writing a Standout College Application Essay.”  The first secret concerns how to smash writer’s block: sledgehammer optional. If you don’t have a sledgehammer, what is the best way to smash writer’s block? […]

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Post image for Five College Essay Qs I Answered on WXYZ-TV

Sept 30, 2014.  Sitting in front of me these days—in my office and on Skype—are high school seniors and their parents who sometimes look worried, stressed or befuddled about the process of writing a strong college application essay. They want to know, “What should I say?” Last week my efforts to help these folks received […]

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Post image for How PIE Can Lead to a Great College Application Essay

For years I’ve been wrestling with this question:  What is the quickest, clearest way to describe what colleges want to learn about a student in his or her college application essay? Some words seem to encapsulate the answer: Passion…voice…experiences…initiative This is what University of Michigan says in their “Tips for Writing a Great Essay” Be […]

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