Most schools with Early Application plans in the US will have deadlines in early November. Usually November 1st or November 15th. So I will assume that most of you reading this soon after I post it will already have a good portion of your application done already! For those reading this later and considering whether you will apply ED, EA or not, you should refer to an earlier post: http://parentedge.in/should-you-apply-early-decision/ This post will focus on some of the more common mistakes and areas to be aware of while completing your early applications.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.” – The Serenity Prayer
Students will inevitably get anxious as these deadlines approach, start scouring the web for sample essays and come across all kinds of advice. They may feel that they have had too “sheltered” a life with too much good fortune to write a great impact essay. They may want to bend, or completely fabricate, the truth to have a good essay. Well, all I say to that is that if fiction was that easy, everyone would be a novelist. In fact, non-fiction is much easier, and will always be better. If you feel that you don’t have an amazing thing that happened to you, then tell them what is amazing about how little happens. That is, sometimes it is not the big changes, but more the little observations that say the most about you. Focus on two main questions when considering a story you might tell: Would the reader learn something more about me that is not on other parts of my application? Is this an interesting story, is it memorable? Don’t be afraid to start over. The best essays are written authentically and are quite simple in form.
The Pedantic: The other thing that I see happening at this stage is students, or sometimes parents, over complicating the essay that has gone through so many drafts already by using difficult words or complex sentences. We are somehow brainwashed in school to think that good writing is difficult to understand; but it is quite the opposite. Keep it authentic!
Time and Space Continuum:There are usually parts of the application that allow you to list your various activities and the time you spent doing these activities. I have found that students will often undersell the number of hours that they put in. If you were in a school play, that should not be reported as just the three hours that the play took. It needs to include your rehearsing and time just being stressed about opening night! The second problem that students have is that the space in the activity list is very limited. Colleges understand this, and that is why they have left the Additional Information area for you to elaborate on these. Try grouping your activities into two or three areas that broadly define what you have done. Admissions people will be reading so many applications, it is unlikely that they will remember all of your activities, but they will remember the broad areas.