Guiding Students Through Writing College Essays


Sep   2014



As you're likely well aware, numerous books have been written with the goal of helping students craft "perfect" application essays that will get them into the top colleges and universities. But there is a dearth of resources for the mentors who are there to guide those students through the writing process and help them get into the best schools for their strengths and interests—be it one of the Ivies, a public university, or a "hidden gem" liberal arts school.

Enter Dr. Elizabeth Stone, who's recently released book, The Better College Essay: Fitting In and Standing Out, addresses those very topics. As the title suggests, The Better College Essay focuses on guiding students to write essays that will help them stand out to admission officials while simultaneously demonstrating how well they will "fit" at the college. In this excerpt from the book's introduction, Stone explains the increasing importance of college application essays:

The effortlessness of applying online and the demise of the paper application have simplified the college admission process so that students can apply to multiple colleges with relative ease. Coupled with the competition to get into college, students are caught in a catch-22. More students applying to more colleges brings admission acceptance rates down lower and lower, so students panic and keep sending in more applications. It is no longer uncommon for students to apply to more than 15 colleges. How, then, does a college know which of those schools a student really wants to attend?

Fitting in and standing out is the goal of the admission essay. The essay must stand out among thousands to admission officers. It must be original, insightful, and tell a new story they have not heard hundreds of times before. It needs to be clearly written, given an admission officer may only have a few minutes to read an entire essay. But the essay also must tell the college that this student will "fit"—that the student's ambitions and academic strengths will be a good match for the college.

On the heels of the release of her book, Dr. Stone was recently a presenter for one of GuidedPath's highly informative professional development webinars. Titled "How to Avoid Writer's Block: Guiding Students Through Writing College Essays," the webinar addressed such topics as understanding word currency and how to "edit without a pen." Watch a recording of the webinar below, and click here to learn more about The Better College Essay.

For more insights and advice from GuidedPath, click here to view previous webinars, and be sure to register for the next one, "It's All About the Transition: Changing How Students Approach College Search and Selection," which will be presented by Harlan Cohen (author of The Naked Roommate) on October 8 at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST.

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