Last year, Times writer Ron Liber issued an open call for high school seniors whose essays focused on those subjects to send in their work. The best of them would be featured in a column in the Your Money section.
An essay by Lyle Li, now a New York University freshman, was produced into a video by The Times.
Liber is looking for those wonderful stories again this year. If your essay shares a story along those lines, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and it may be featured in Times Your Money column in May.
When it comes to tips on writing your college essay, everyone's got advice. And most of the Top 10 or Top 7 or Top 25 lists are pretty much the same.
But Sabrina Yates, a California high school student, has some tips worth noting in her Top 9 list.
Writing on the website AllWomenTalk, com, Yates includes these valuable pointers:
- Hook the reader: "You need to hook the reader right off the bat, and convince them that they want to keep on reading, because yours is not like the other essays stacked a mile high on their desk."
- Be humble: "No one wants to read an essay full of arrogance and bragging. . . . You shouldn’t shy away from highlighting your achievements, but should avoid putting yourself on a pedestal."
- Seek advice: "In order to write a fabulous essay, you’ll need to get outside opinions. These can come from various sources: parents, older siblings, teachers or counselors will all offer unique and valuable input to your essay!"
Everyone wants to tell you how to write your essay. "I did it this way," says an uncle. (Yeah, but that was in the '60s.) "I did it that way," says you mom. (Yeah, but that was in a time when essays were less a focal point of the admissions process, and just getting into college at all was easier and less complicated a process.)
Myths about college essays abound, but Kim Lifton, president of Wow Writing Workshop, busts five of them on wowwritingworkshop.com
MYTH #1: An essay has to be written about an impressive topic.
BUSTED: You are the impressive topic. A college application essay is your opportunity to share something meaningful about yourself. The story, not the experience, is most important. Colleges want to know what you learned, not what you did.
MYTH #2: Your college entrance essay should sound sophisticated, like Hemingway or a college professor.
BUSTED: The college essay is your story; it should be written using your words, and in your voice.
MYTH #3: Admissions officers will never know if a parent, tutor, teacher or college coach has “helped” a student with an essay. They won’t know if you plagiarized, either.
BUSTED: There is a fine line between getting help and letting someone write part or all of your essay. While parents and others cannot always tell the difference, admissions officers know when someone other than the student writes a story; they don’t like it.
MYTH #4: There is a right way and a wrong way to write an essay.
BUSTED: Your best story will grow out of the process of writing your college application essay. There are no tricks, and no shortcuts. You just need to trust the process.
MYTH #5: Only superstar students will impress admissions officers with their essays.
BUSTED: Anyone can stand out with a great story!
Arnie Rosenberg is the founder of The Center for Essay Excellence. He writes regularly about college essays and their importance to the college-admission process. Contact him at Arnie.Rosenberg.Editor@gmail.com.
© 2014 The Center for Essay Excellence