Application Essays

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Crafting an Application Essay That ‘Pops’ By REBECCA R. RUIZ The Choice at Nacac The Choice takes readers backstage as nearly 5,000 admissions officers and counselors gather in New Orleans. * Applying to College in the United Kingdom * In Praise of the Teenage Brain * College Counselors Convene in the Big Easy * All Nacac Posts Stanford University’s application for admission includes a prompt directing students to write a letter to their future freshman roommates. The exercise is a good one for all applicants – regardless of their interest in Stanford – as a fun, fresh jumping-off point in the essay writing process, Rebecca Joseph, a professor of education at California State University, said on Friday. “It’s all about loosening up,” said Ms. Joseph, who was on a panel called “Communicating Stories: Strategies to Help Students Write Powerful College Essays,” part of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors conference in New Orleans. She quoted various students’ “Dear Roommate” pieces: “If you want to borrow my music, just ask. If you want to borrow my underwear, just take them.” “I eat ice cream with a fork, and I drink orange juice right after I brush my teeth just for the sour taste.” “If you have anything other than a Dodgers poster on the wall, I will tear it down.” “Using ‘I’ is scary,” Ms. Joseph said, but students must get comfortable with their first-person voice on paper in order to craft successful, resonant essays. Erica Sanders, an admissions officer at the University of Michigan, stressed that writing style – something students may obsess over – is less important than “psychedelic” three-dimensionality and shows of authentic personality. “We can fix that a student’s a comma fiend, that they don’t have verb-tense structure,” she said. Other practical advice included: * Make a chart. An applicant’s first

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