School Specific Essays and the Impact of Word Limits

School Specific Essays and the Impact of Word Limits

As with the personal statement, there is no set “formula” for writing an effective supplemental essay—and sometimes the best essays are the ones that thoughtfully and creatively break the rules! That said, here is a general overview of how we approach both long and short supps:

  • Action: Open with a gripping hook, e.g. a vivid introductory anecdote, provocative statement, or weird fact. (Long, 1-8 sentences; Short, 1-3 sentences)
  • Backstory: Give the backstory behind your opening; explain how it connects to your life and your interests. (Long, 1-5 sentences; Short, 1-2 sentences)
  • Action Continues/Progress: This is the heart of the essay, and the place where you tell your story as it relates to the prompt. (For both Long and Short essays: This section should constitute the majority of sentences and paragraphs in your essay.)
  • Reflection and Conclusion: Conclude by connecting back to the opening hook and/or by looking to the future. (Long, 2-4 sentences; Short, 1-2 sentences)

As you can see, our approach is the same for both long and short essays. However, long essays allow for an extended introduction with a longer scene or story, additional paragraphs that allow for more depth and detail in the body of the essay, and a comprehensive conclusion. Short essays will have highly condensed introductions and conclusions, as well as fewer body paragraphs and less detail. This is why we strongly advocate writing long essays first: it’s easier to go back and trim detail than it is to add detail to a short essay.

Pro Tip –> “Less is more” doesn’t apply to college admissions essays: all of your essays should be as close to the word limit as possible. If you don’t max out the word count, it can look like you haven’t put in max effort. Being 5-10 words shy of the limit is fine, but only writing 200 words for a 250-word essay can look lazy.

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College Specific Supplemental Essays: Strategy/Tips

College Specific Supplemental Essays: Strategy/Tips

One of the reasons that we like students to have a sense of their college list when they start essay writing is that each essay does not exist in a vacuum. Everything submitted with a college application needs to work together to tell the fullest story possible about who you are, what you are all about, and the value you will add to the school that’s reading your application.

Complement your Personal Statement—don’t compete with it. You should aim to make sure all of your supplemental essays are as separate from the personal statement as possible. For instance, if my personal statement is about my passion for dance (my main extracurricular), and a school requires what we call a creativity supplement in The Complete College Essay Handbook, I would choose to write about something other than dance for the PS because I might want to focus on that in the supplement.

Present a rounded picture, even if you are narrow. Notice that I didn’t say be well-rounded. I don’t advise that! But imagine you apply to a school that requires two supplemental essays. One prompt clearly calls for an academic and intellectual interests (AII) essay, and the second is open-ended. You wouldn’t want to write a second AII essay for that school. Although college is first and foremost about academics, you want the opportunity to present as many parts of yourself as possible; go with any one of the other three types of supplemental essays that we outline in detail within The Complete College Essay Handbook! Every single college applicant should be able to write an impact and influence and community and identity essay.

Consider the school’s values. Sticking with the same example: if a school asks for two supplements and one prompt clearly calls for an AII essay, and the second is open-ended, in addition to writing a different type of supp, you should also take the school’s mission and values into consideration. For instance, since Jesuit schools like Santa Clara, Fordham, and the University of San Francisco tend to value service more than some secular schools, an impact and influence essay would be the best choice for the second prompt. Conversely, a liberal arts college with a long history of political activism, such as Wesleyan, Smith, or Oberlin, might react more favorably to a community and identity essay with an impact twist.

Use your best story. Imagine you have one just incredible story, and it fits perfectly into the impact and influence type. You write the essay—it’s great, and you love it! Then you realize that your top-choice school asks for a community and identity essay. What should you do? If your story is really that good, you are actually better off turning that impact and influence essay into a community and identity essay—even if it feels like a bit of a stretch. Admissions officers will remember how you made them feel—not that you didn’t answer the question quite as accurately as another applicant.

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Volunteer Opportunity – Support Ukrainian Youth

Volunteer Opportunity – Support Ukrainian Youth

Volunteer Opportunity!

ENGin is a nonprofit organization that pairs Ukrainian youth with English speakers for free online conversation practice and cross-cultural connection. They work with students aged 13-35 and volunteers aged 14+.

ENGin pairs English learners with volunteers from around the world to conduct weekly online speaking sessions. Every learner and volunteer is screened to ensure their fit for the program. Participants are then matched based on preferences, interests, and availability to ensure an effective and mutually enjoyable communication experience. After a match is made, ENGin supports learners and volunteers throughout their participation in the program with tips, resources, and problem resolution.

Read more here. 

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Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

College counseling is not a program that you simply sign up for—it’s a relationship, and a process that takes place over an extended period of time.

The majority of our work with students—which includes academic planning, narrative and extracurricular development (your academic and EC “story” for college), a strategic college list, and completing essays, app data, and an extended resume—starts in 10th or early in 11th grade.

Rising soph’s and juniors can:

  • Start to prep for standardized exams early. Don’t wait until spring of your junior year to begin prep. We have a small list of tutors who we can highly recommend; don’t leave who you work with up to chance.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. They will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other.
  • Build your story! Have you been heavily involved with any of your extracurricular activities (other than sports, in which you can’t major)? Look for impact and leadership opportunities. More importantly, does your resume point toward a major or intellectual interest? What is your story, and how is it told on your resume?
  • Plan your summer wisely. You’ll want to use this summer to build your resume and make sure it’s pointed toward your intended major.
  • Visit the websites of schools you are interested in. Explore the admission and academic pages, start to attend virtual offerings, and track your contact with schools. It should be exciting to kick your college research into a higher gear this summer. How else will you get to know schools (rankings do not count, they are meaningless)? Don’t forget to connect with your reps, too.

Fill out the contact form to schedule a consult and find out how we can support you in your college planning and application process.

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GenHERation® Exploration Camp at Hackley

GenHERation® Exploration Camp at Hackley

The future starts now! GenHERation® Exploration is an intensive summer program designed to inspire young women to think big and push the limits of what’s possible. During this immersive experience, students will learn from the most innovative companies in America, meet powerful female leaders, and participate in skill-building simulations. Throughout the week, students will connect with industry experts from Fortune 500 companies, tech giants, retailers, government agencies, and sports franchises as they collaborate on custom-designed challenges. Students will become trailblazers in their own lives and develop a toolkit for success to excel in the classroom, college, and beyond.

Students will refine the following skills throughout the program:

  • Communication
  • Public speaking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation
  • Critical thinking

Aug 1-3 (3 days)
Full-Day 9am-4pm

Instructor
GenHERation® 

Grades
9-12

$500 – sign up here! 

Summer 2022 Small Group Creative Writing Workshops

Summer 2022 Small Group Creative Writing Workshops

Small Group Creative Writing Workshop 

Do you want to expand your interest in creative writing, especially as you seek to pursue studying the humanities or other liberal arts majors in college? Are you looking for mentorship as you work toward opportunities to publish your work and/or compete in writing competitions? Join our creative writing workshop group this summer!

During weekly meetings, groups of 4-6 students will refine their understanding of the techniques that define each creative genre—fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. There will be two classes on fiction, two classes on poetry, and two on personal essays. Students will leave each class meeting with a new piece of writing, on which they’ll receive detailed, personalized feedback.

Course Structure:

  • The course consists of eight live sessions 
  • Each session is for 1.5 hours over Zoom
  • Each meeting will consist of a half-hour of lecture and discussion, a half-hour of in-class writing time, and a half-hour of sharing that writing for feedback from the instructor

Course Requirements: 

  • Students in grades 9-12
  • Submit a writing sample with the application
  • Have a strong command of the English language  
    • TOEFL score of 100 minimum

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Get Involved with jGirls+ Magazine!

Get Involved with jGirls+ Magazine!

Now accepting applications for 2022-2023 teen editor and staff photographer positions!

The application is open to self-identifying Jewish girls, young women, and non-binary people across all backgrounds and across North America who will be in 10th-12th grades in the 2022-2023 academic year. 

They actively encourage applicants who are diverse in their Jewish identification, sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, race, ethnicity, and abilities. If you’re unsure whether jGirls+ staff positions are open to your specific Jewish and/or gender identity, they encourage you to read the FAQs for those answers and more. Applications are open now through April 14th.

jGirls+ editorial board members and staff photographers make a difference in the world by:

  • Building an online community of future Jewish leaders.
  • Providing space for Jewish teenage girls, young women, and nonbinary teens to make their voices heard.
  • Engaging in discussion across differences of background, opinion, and perspective.

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2022 Waitlist Strategy

2022 Waitlist Strategy

We predict big waitlists again this year.

Are you on one?  Reach out for individualized advice, and keep reading below!

For an example letter, please subscribe to our blog (link below) and email us

Getting admitted from the waitlist is not easy. However, it is possible with a viable strategy and some persistence. Although we do not suggest being overly optimistic, here are some of the strategies that have worked.

First, get familiar with the WL data from past years. How many students are offered spots on the WL? How many accept their spot, and more importantly, how many does school X ultimately admit? Some of these numbers are dismal, but it is best to know what you are up against. Look at the Common Data Set first (http://www.commondataset.org/). A few other sites to review:

Before implementing waitlist strategies (below), it is important to deposit at a current top choice school (a school where you have been admitted) and get excited about the prospect of attending. Take advantage of admitted student days and other events that connect you with potential future classmates, including joining “Class of 2026” social media groups. These forums are often very informative, fun, and can help you take your mind off the waitlist waiting game.

Once you have accepted a spot on the WL, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized yourself with the waitlist data, consider the strategies below. Not all of them are novel, but without much to lose, why not do all you can so you can look back without any what-ifs?

  • Write a waitlist letter. This letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied—but most importantly—it needs to fill in any GAPS from your original application and highlight a few specific value-adds you will bring to X campus. This is where individualized feedback can be critical.
  • Consider including:
    • Academic Updates: Spend some time talking about coursework and school projects, and make connections to future courses of study. You can even drop in related courses you’d like to take at school X, like those you’d include in a Why School essay, but only do this if you did not submit an essay of this type when you applied, otherwise you are being redundant and that is not well-received.
    • Extracurricular Updates. But only if significant and can be connected to how you will add value to the school where you are deferred. This includes school and non-school clubs, service commitments, and/or other leadership experiences you can highlight. Like the academic paragraph(s), making connections to similar opportunities you plan to undertake in college can be helpful additions. For example, if you talk about a new project you spearheaded as VP of your school’s Interact Club, you may want to include that you hope to lead a similar project within a specific club or group at school X. Being very specific is important.
    • The additional ways you have connected with and continued to get to know school X since you applied. This could include setting up an informational interview with a local alum, a current student, reaching out to your local regional alumni group (more on this below), or continuing to connect with your regional rep via email.
  • Make sure you read and follow any specific WL directions that are shared with you. You might be asked to send updates to a specific WL manager, or upload them on your applicant portal. If you previously connected with your rep (you should have at the beginning of the process), reach back out and ask them if they have any advice for you as a waitlisted candidate. Keep this line of communication open; do not send updates every week, but stay in touch to continue to demonstrate interest.
  • Ask your guidance counselor to call the admissions office and advocate for you, as well as provide any additional information they may have that will support your candidacy.  Ask them to back up what they say on the phone in an email if they have time. Make sure they send updated grades/transcripts promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or gotten better, not dipped.
  • Obtain and have an extra letter of recommendation sent, but only if the school welcomes extra LORs.  A teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your potential contributions to the university could draft this letter. Some schools explicitly state on their WL docs they do not welcome or want extra LORs; if that is the case, don’t send. *Side note on alumni letters­ and letters from well-known and or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person knows well you or they are a very high-level donor with solid connections to admissions (even then, why count on someone else?). If you think that a big name vouching for you will help, it generally doesn’t as a stand-alone factor, and officers can see through these often brief and less than meaningful notes.
  • Worth saying again: Make sure you follow any directions they provide!

Additional strategies…

  • Check if school X has a local alumni group (Google search) and if so, reach out to them and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you via Zoom for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, as those learnings might be good fodder for a WL update.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your WL school on TikTok, Instagram, or other social channels to connect. Don’t forget to open all email correspondence from the school, as schools track opens/clicks as interest.

You don’t need to…

  • Show up on campus or engage in other over-the-top moves that you think will make an impact. They won’t. Please understand that this type of behavior is not appreciated or welcomed.

More questions about the WL? Email us!

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TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

Join us on March 14th at 8 pm eastern for a casual discussion on all things test prep and college planning. We’ll be presenting a few of our top tips and strategies but will leave most of the session open for your questions. This session is for students and parents.

Register here!

Hope to see you on March, 14th!

Teach 24/7 Internships

Teach 24/7 Internships

Education Development:

  • Instructional Design and Delivery
  • Curriculum Research and Evaluation
  • School Design and Research:
  • Student Teacher
  • Educator and Instructional Design Internship

Operations:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Business Development
  • Finance and Funding
  • Operations and Systems Design

Design and Development:

  • Writing and Communications
  • Audio Recording and Design
  • Graphic Design and UX/UI
  • Web Design and Development
  • Media Production and Design
  • Game Design and Development

Read more here!