The 5 Biggest Mistakes in College Admissions Essays
Oct07

The 5 Biggest Mistakes in College Admissions Essays

College admissions essays are important — and different. The following is a guest post by Janson Woodlee, co-founder of Ivy Eyes Editing. Your college admissions essay is probably unlike anything you’ve ever written. What other class or context has demanded you compose a self-actualizing, authentic piece of prose that also subtly “markets” your life experience? The admissions context is unique in this regard, and requires some strategic understanding of your audience: what they’re reading and what they want to be reading. At Ivy Eyes Editing, we have read thousands of college admissions essays and established a solid calibration for what makes an admissions essay extraordinary. So, what are the 5 biggest mistakes that we see applicants routinely make? 1. A lack of authenticity. Most applicants obtusely write what the AdCom (Admissions Committee) wants to hear (“winning the swim meet was amazing—I’m so proud I won!”) rather than the more difficult, reflective alternative (“winning the swim meet was amazing but surprisingly difficult—my swim career was over”). Authenticity makes you you, it makes you a stronger community member, and it makes you likeable. Keep it authentic! 2. Tackling too much. Most applicants try to compress their life story into their admissions essay; however, remember that your essay isn’t your resume in narrative form. Focusing on a seemingly insignificant moment in a coffee shop will likely yield more interesting, thoughtful content. Typically, you only have 800 words or so. Get granular and dig deep! 3. Generic angles. The hyper-descriptive intro that starts with the onomatopoeia (“KA-BOOM!”), the one-size-fits-all, resume-supporting framework (describing the photos on a nightstand), the melodramatic essay that explores a difficult circumstance (“When my dog died…”): we’ve all read these essays before. Your admissions essay is somewhat like a 1st date or conversation, and hackneyed narrative tactics will cause most listeners to tune out. 4. Language level. Your admissions essay must be fundamentally reader-friendly. It should not read like a dense PhD dissertation OR an informal e-mail to your best friend; it should strike a balance between the two. Don’t use a series of clichés. Do write in your own language and remember to show rather than tell. 5. Misusing the admissions essay. Your essay can truly be a marketing opportunity. There is a correct, subtle way to articulate your strengths and strengthen your candidacy. So, take a step back. Given the rest of your application, what should your reader know about you—and what does your essay tell them? Admissions writing truly requires a new set of skills which most high school applicants don’t frequently get to practice or cultivate. However, avoiding some of these pitfalls will help you as...

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Takeaway Tweets & Transcript from #CampusChat with Ivy Eyes Editing

How does one learn how to write an attention-grabbing, read-worthy 500-word college admissions essay 140-characters at a time? Simple. Read the transcript from Wednesday's #CampusChat with @IvyEyesEditing  (July 14, 2010).  Our expert guest and co-host, Janson Woodlee, co-founder and managing editor at Ivy Eyes Editing, lead the charge for top-notch writing to get admitted to college, get off waitlists, and win scholarships.  Janson and his expert team of writers and editors, who are also Yale graduates, have edited thousands of essays, resumes, personal statements, cover letters, and other materials for business and college admissions. Their clientele includes prospective college freshmen, graduate school and professional school applicants, as well as business professionals.  There were ample Takeaway Tweets from this #CampusChat discussion that included over 160 posts and 25 contributors. Some of my favorites include these essay-writing tips from @IvyEyesEditing: Students get off waitlists, win scholarships, etc through top-notch writing  But great question re: religion and politics, really! A good caveat is to make another quality or theme the centerpiece… Your views on organized religion, not as important as what you have done to preserve or work for them  To follow-up on intro paragraphs–I grow weary of 'creative' intro 'devices.' Starting with an onomatopoeia isn't creative  Using a quote? Good idea ONLY IF: you convey what it truly means to you, and/or you expand upon it. Context is imp too.  The diversity essay: own your diversity, and tell it through a story that conveys difference that's more than skindeep.  Another pitfall: TMI- an emotionally heavy story that brings your stability & college readiness into question  And I'd add don't go with cliches. So boring when kids can talk about nothing but To Kill a Mockingbird  The Common App will go live August 1 but preview w/ all essay questions is available now http://bit.ly/byPxRc  For more great tips on writing, college admissions, SAT prep, and to see the contributions by all of the participants, read the entire #CampusChat Transcript available from What the Hashtag?!. Think you may just need some help preparing your college admissions essay or job resume? Ivy Eyes Editing offers a free writing assessment for first-time submissions. For more insight into writing the perfect essay, check out our earlier post: Keep Your Eye on the Prize with Ivy Eyes Editing. The next #CampusChat is Wednesday, July 21, 2010, with  Alexis Avila, founder and president of Prepped and...

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The 5W’s of CampusChat with @IvyEyesEditing
Jul14

The 5W’s of CampusChat with @IvyEyesEditing

 #CampusChat: 9 PM Eastern, 8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific on July 14, 2010  WHO - Tonight's guest is Janson Woodlee (follow @IvyEyesEditing), Yale graduate and co-founder/managing editor of Ivy Eyes #CampusChat is hosted by Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc. WHAT - #CampusChat on Twitter WHERE - Twitter, What the Hashtag, TweetChat, …other/your Twitter tool of choice WHEN - 9 PM ET June 14, 2010 WHY - Janson, along with Brooke Lyons, founded Ivy Eyes in 2005 to serve college applicants, business professionals and others, worldwide, challenged with the task of representing themselves successfully in writing. The Ivy Eyes team consists of Yale graduates and includes Ph.D.'s, MBA's and published authors. Collectively they have edited thousands of materials for their clients including personal statements, essays, business letters and proposals, recommendations letters, and more. Their strength is in authenticity — they help the "real you" represent your voice successfully via the written word for a specific audience.  Related Reading: Keep Your Eye on the Prize with Ivy Eyes Editing – SmartCollegeVisit How to Rock on a Twitter Chat - Handshake 2.0 Twitter Tools for #CampusChat - SmartCollegeVisit 3 Easy Ways to Keep in Step with a Twitter Chat - Handshake 2.0...

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Keep Your Eye on the Prize with Ivy Eyes Editing
Jul12

Keep Your Eye on the Prize with Ivy Eyes Editing

 Let’s face it, the stress of college applications and essay writing can be a headache. During a time when you’ll sift through college applications like you’re panning for gold, it might seem impossible to get through the process alive. The best thing to do is to firstly, keep breathing, and secondly, get by with a little help from your friends. Ivy Eyes Editing has made it their mission to help clients at every skill level and all applicant groups, whether it be college, MBA, med school, law school, or PhD programs, to “bring out the best in their candidacy and write with color and authenticity.” Ivy Eyes makes this happen by writing with you, not for you, and by pushing your thinking in such a way that will make admissions materials exceptional.  Here are a few tips. You’ve finally made it to three glorious months of summer vacation. It’s time to hit the beach, catch some sun, and… write your college admissions essays. How in the world do you get started? While different essays require different approaches, a good rule of thumb is to make an outline. Start collecting stories early, making a skeleton for each. That way, it’s much easier to determine which direction has the most life and authenticity.   It has to be you, wonderful you. What is authenticity? In a nutshell, you. What do you bring to the table that no other candidate does?  This isn’t limited to what have you done that no other candidate has, but it includes everything from your writing style to personal detail.  Believe it or not, an essay that is colorful and age-appropriate is more likely to grab the attention of an admissions committee than something that could pass as a legal document.  No admissions consultant can fake authenticity for you. There is something incredible and unique about the perspective of high school students that can’t be replicated. In a world full of admissions consultants that attempt to build ‘super-candidates’, what a relief it is to know that the best you can do is just be you! T.M.I So in your endeavor to project an authentic image of yourself, one very important question arises: How much information is too much information? Some prompts call for more personal details than others, but at the end of the day it is important to maintain a good level of balance in any essay. Humanize yourself (most schools are looking to build a thriving and lively campus, not Stepford) but at the same time keep in mind that you’re writing a college essay, not a tell-all autobiography.  How to Lose a Committee in...

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