Author: Kim Lifton

The New COVID-19 Prompt IS an Opportunity!

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Jack, a rising senior who is applying to several selective colleges, discovered he liked doing puzzles when his life went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organized sports stopped. To stay active, he forced himself to go for a daily run. With some extra time on his hands, Jack was able to immerse himself in books. He created a “to do” list and a daily schedule for virtual school. Zoom parties took the place of shooting hoops at the basketball court with his friends.

Sound familiar?

The scenario is not unique to Jack, or for any member of the Class of 2021. Things are challenging for students applying to school right now, and colleges know that. That’s why – with input from member colleges – the Common App has added a new, optional 250-word prompt for students to address COVID-19 on their college apps:

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

While not required, this prompt can certainly help your child stand out inside the admissions office if handled properly. Jack, who is one of my students, chose to take advantage of this prompt.

Jack had no trouble writing about his personal experience, even though no one lost a job or got sick. He had Internet access. But still, COVID changed his life and made it challenging. The COVID prompt gave Jack a place to share what he did during COVID, how he pivoted, learned to plan and kept up with his schoolwork.

Keep in mind, colleges do not want your child to feel pressure to manufacture experiences or demonstrate how resourceful they were during the pandemic. But if your child has an astonishing story, they can tell it in this space. Anyone can use this space to discuss COVID’s effect on their life, as long as it presents information that has not been shared elsewhere in the application.

“I do want to know how COVID-19 affected you,” explains Joe Latimer, Assistant Dean for Enrollment, Diversity and Outreach, University of Rochester. “But just share with me what I might experience in your household in a genuine, authentic way without that superhero cape.

“I think applicants should state the facts.” Latimer added. “Did you have an illness, loss of employment, inability to complete certain activities? Stick with the facts.”

There’s no reason not to use the space on the Common Application. If your child is using another application, they can add COVID activities to the resume or activities section or perhaps use the additional information spot to share their story.

“By all means, use this space to share your story,” Giselle Martin, Director of Recruitment and Talent, Emory University, said during a webinar last June. “This has been a hard couple of months, and we are not looking for superheroes. We are looking for super humans: people who are good and being kind in their everyday lives.

“Let us learn about you; put your best foot forward,” Martin added. “How do you want to express yourself? This has been a unique year for all of us, and you are all learning to adapt. Be honest and authentic. Never apologize for challenges and adversity that you face on a daily basis.”

The prompt is super clear and specific. Located in the Additional Information section of the application, the question will allow colleges and universities to better understand your students’ experiences in 250 words or less.

But how will students know what to say? Start by asking your child, what do you want colleges to know and why? We suggest starting with three pre-brainstorm questions. Encourage your child to free write responses to these questions:

  1. What did you do during the pandemic?
  2. What couldn’t you do?
  3. How do you feel about what’s been going on around you?

Jack did a great job on his COVID essay, talking about life during a pandemic, including forcing himself to run on his own and stick to a routine for schoolwork. It was tough to get motivated, but he did it.

Our Gift to You!

At Wow, we’re here to help you on the college essay journey. Get a free copy of our book here: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Students.

About the Author

Kim Lifton knows how to teach your children how to write a college essay; she can teach you how to guide them so they trust themselves.

Kim Lifton is president and co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication and training company that follows three principles: Process, plan and schedule. Wow specializes in professional development for consultants, teachers and high school counselors who work with students applying to college and grad school and also teaches college and grad school applicants how to write effective personal statements, supplemental, fellowship and scholarship essays. Since 2009, Wow has been leading the college admissions industry with our unique approach to the college application essay. We work with students and professionals around the world and are staffed by a small team of experts who understand the writing process inside and out. Email Kim@wowwritingworkshop.com.

 

Help Your Child Get Started on the College Essay

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

We hope you and your family are healthy and staying safe. As we move into application season for the Class of 2021, there are a lot of uncertainties; life right now can seem quite unsettling. Because it is.

We parsed all of the Common App prompts for 2021…and more. Get yours on Amazon.com.

College essays can seem overwhelming, too, but they don’t have to be. And neither do family discussions about essays.

Has a simple conversation in your house ever been ruined by a seemingly innocent suggestion?

That harmless conversation could start something like this…

Parent, relaxed, smiling and with a super sweet tone:

I was thinking, it would be so great if you wrote a college essay about how your great-grandpa invented the frozen custard machine. He was a real trendsetter in his day. You could talk about what an example he’s been to you and how that influenced you on student council.

Child, looking down, sighing:

Really??! Just please leave me alone!! 

Child leaves without another word. Bedroom door slams.

Parent, clueless, wonders, What was that? 

Even now – with all eyes and ears on the Coronavirus – this kind of thing happens. Parents think we know what’s in our kids’ heads, but we don’t. We think we’re helping; our children find us annoying.

We don’t want you to go through this type of scenario when college essays come up. It’s too stressful. And there’s enough stuff going on right now to distract, bore and annoy even the most dedicated, brilliant student.

The college essay can be daunting on its own. Why? Because it matters. A lot.

JOin me for a free webinar for students; parents are welcome, too.

 

Next up: WEDNESDAY, JuLY 8 at 7 pm  E.T.

My business partner Susan and I have been in the college admissions business for more than a decade. We have written three books – go-to guides for parents, students and counselors. We stay current on the college essay and industry trends by speaking at conferences and staying in touch with admissions officers.

We’ve always been a virtual company, working remotely with students all over the world. The Wow Method is the most effective process out there because we’ve spent 10 years perfecting it. We challenge ourselves every day. We hire the best coaches. We ask questions and dig deep.

Our process is our magic. 

We know the word “process” isn’t particularly sexy. But sexy or not, it works – year after year, with every type of student in every type of situation.

We have a small team, and during college admission season, we work with a select number of students from all over the world using an online system we developed nearly a decade ago. Our writing coaches use our online communication tools to streamline the process and make it easy for students to succeed.

The rest of the year we train independent educational consultants, counselors and other professionals who are on the ground, working with students every day.

We provide an environment that is designed for success. One that is calm. Nurturing. Quiet.

What’s our secret? We are teachers and writers who understand this industry inside and out. We talk to admissions officers all the time. We know what they want, and we know how to deliver it. We are process-driven. Our mantra: Process. Plan. Schedule.

Stick with us, and we’ll help take some of the pressure off, no matter what’s going on in the world. That’s because we teach students how to write strong, effective essays, with less stress and greater confidence.

To help you get there, join me for a free webinar for students. Parents are welcome, too. Just sign up for the live event, or watch the recording later. I answered a lot of questions during the last webinar about COVID-19 and the college essay. Watch it here. 

We’re sending warm and calming thoughts to all of you.

Kim Lifton is President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop a premier college application essay coaching and professional training company, offering private, virtual writing coaching services to professionals and students throughout the world.  Since 2009, Wow has been leading the college admissions industry with our unique approach to communicating messages effectively through application essays, including personal statements, activity and short answer essays and supplements.  Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Kim blogs regularly about the college essay’s role in the admission process for multiple industry publications and websites. In 2019, she was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in Education.

How to Get a Great Story out of Your Students

By KIM LIFTON
President
Wow Writing Workshop
kim@wowwritingworkshop.com

A few months ago, I had lunch with my friend, Ella, a great high school counselor here in metro Detroit, where I live. It feels like a million years ago, back when high school counselors were actually working inside high schools…

We started talking about her previous job as a sales manager in the textile industry. I peppered her with questions about her job, what she did, what she liked. How do people pick colors for clothes or fabric for furniture? I asked.

How do you know which colors will be trendy?

How does someone know which color paint will be most popular next year on a car or truck?

She told me they have a system, analytics; it’s quite interesting, and it works, year after year.

I wanted to know who decides if red will be the in color for the season, or how long capris might be cool. She didn’t know, but she said there were people inside the industry who use data to predict that, too.

I couldn’t help myself. I love great stories. I find everything so interesting.

I like people. I like hearing their stories. Who are they? What’s important to them? Why? While Ella has been out of the textiles field for a long time, she appreciated that I was interested in her. I asked questions; I listened to her answers. We had a conversation. It was normal, natural.

Then something clicked.

“Hey Ella,” I said.

“Y-e-e-e-s,” she said.

“You know how to get a great story out of a kid who is writing a college essay? You do what we just did.”

  • Have a conversation.
  • Show the student you are interested in them.
  • Be curious.
  • Listen to what they have to say.
  • Ask questions.

That’s it. Yep. That’s the big secret.

That’s how you get a great story out of a student who needs to write a college essay.

Thinking of you and your loved ones. Stay healthy and safe.

JOIN WOW FOR MONTHLY FREE WEBINARS FOR YOU AND YOUR STUDENTS

Free Pro Chats: Every month we record a new College Essay Pro Chat. Check out the recording, or sign up for next month’s webinar. Wow CEO Susan Knoppow answers questions live for 30 minutes.

Free Student Classes: If you’re a school counselor who wants to help students with the basics, encourage them to sign up for my next free student class, or listen to the recording. You are welcome to sign up, too.

Wow President Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton is President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop a premier college application essay coaching and professional training company, offering private, virtual writing coaching services to professionals and students throughout the world.  Since 2009, Wow has been leading the college admissions industry with our unique approach to communicating messages effectively through application essays, including personal statements, activity and short answer essays and supplements.  Kim leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Kim blogs regularly about the college essay’s role in the admission process for multiple industry publications and websites. In 2019, she was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in Education.

Building a College List for Student-Athletes

By Katie Andersen and David Stoeckel
The Student-Athlete Advisors

The process of building a college list for any student requires listening to your client’s wants and needs and gathering relevant information. Independent educational consultants (IECs) learn about grades and test scores as well as a client’s goals and wish list for college, including size of school, location, setting, public/private, major, social environment, financial needs, and any other factors that might be important to the decision-making process.

An IEC advising a student-athlete will also need to collect information about the student’s sport, position, teams (high school and club), personal statistics specific to the sport/position, awards, expectations for the level of college competition, reasons for wanting to pursue college athletics or an athletic scholarship, and athletic goals

for college and beyond. High school guidance counselors may review a student-athlete’s transcript for academic eligibility, but it’s a good idea to double-check the requirements for NCAA Division I and II and NAIA to verify that your student-athlete is academically eligible.

The student should be prepared to send an email to college coaches with an attached student- athlete profile and a recruiting video (depending on the sport) to highlight his or her athletic and academic achievements.

The final element of initiating the college athletic recruiting process is building a recruiting list with coach contact information. Unlike a purely academic college list, a recruiting list should address primarily athletics and academics.

Athletic Fit

We recommend starting this process in the middle of an athlete’s sophomore year with an initial recruiting list of up to 70 schools to provide a range of athletic competition. This list is only a starting point. As you will see, the process will help narrow the list of schools and you will revise the list as you get more feedback along the way.

Which schools offer each sport? A simple place to start your search for which schools offer each sport is the NCAA Directory at https:// web3.ncaa.org/directory or the NAIA Member Schools Search on www.NAIA.org.

Which athletic level of competition is right for my student-athlete?

Start by asking for feedback from the student-athlete, parents, coaches (club and/or high school), and trainers to get a feel for the level of competition that might be right for the student-athlete. This is a starting point, and the student-athlete will get better feedback as college coaches respond (or don’t respond) to their efforts.

Athletic rankings are a crucial aspect of a recruit’s college list because they help define the competitive level of recruiting at each school. A ranking system used in many sports is known as rating percentage index (RPI), a calculation based on wins, losses, and strength of schedule. The following sites will give you athletic ranking and conference standings for most sports:

NCAA: www.ncaa.com NAIA: www.naia.org ESPN: www.espn.com

If you can’t find enough ranking information on those sites, each sport usually has at least one website dedicated to complete college athletic rankings. Search for “college [sport] rankings” for more detailed lists.

Here are a few sites we use frequently for various sports:

Cross Country/Track & Field: www.ustfccca.org/team-rankings- polls-central
Soccer: www.topdrawersoccer.com
Swimming: www.collegeswimming.com

Tennis: www.collegetennisonline.com

Academic Fit

As with all college seeking students, student athletes must also incorporate academic fit in their search and consider GPA and test score requirements, location, selectivity, undergraduate size, and major. Most of those factors are listed on scholarshipstats.com. GuidedPath users can easily export these details about each school by creating a tagged list. Alternatively, CollegeBoard.org allows you to search for academic, financial, and social factors as well as athletic programs at the Division I, II and III, NAIA, intercollegiate, and club levels.

In some cases, especially for high-academic athletes, simply focusing on a few key athletic conferences like the Ivy League and Patriot League (NCAA Division I) or NESCAC and UAA (NCAA Division III) will help you identify the academic reach schools quickly. Keep in mind that too much information can be overwhelming for families when presented as a list of 70 schools, so we recommend presenting these details only if they provide meaningful context.

We caution against allowing academic factors to limit your list too aggressively in the early stages of the recruiting process. Although academic fit is an important part of the recruiting process, this is one area where IECs can consider a more flexible range of schools because some student-athletes may be admissible with grades
and test scores on the lower end of a school’s admissions criteria. Typically, a college coach will ask a prospective recruit for his or
her transcript and test scores to verify the student’s admissions probability with the liaison in the admissions department before the formal application process.

Group and Sort Your Data to Add Context

Once you have a list of schools that represent a reasonable
range athletically and academically, it’s time to add coach contact information. Your client should send an email to the head coach or assistant/position coaches when appropriate. The easiest way to find a single page on a school’s athletic website that contains all college coach contact information is by searching for “athletic staff directory [school name]”. If you don’t mind paying for a list, go to College Coaches Online at www.collegecoachesonline.com.

We caution against allowing academic factors to limit your list too aggressively in the early stages of the recruiting process…. Some student-athletes may be admissible with grades and test scores on the lower end of a school’s admissions criteria.

When you have an overview of the resources available to help you create an athletic recruiting list, it’s time to group the data so it has context and helps the student-athlete more accurately target the types of schools where he or she might be recruited. Figure 1 is a sample NCAA Division I list that we created for a high academic (4.3 weighted GPA, 32 ACT) women’s soccer player. This is only a sample to demonstrate the range of options within the 337 NCAA Division I schools that offer women’s soccer. This list is sorted by women’s soccer rank. Since all the schools are top-tier academic institutions, their SAT math, ACT, and GPA ranges all look the same, but there is variety in women’s soccer rank, size and location.

After your student-athlete has contacted coaches by emailing a student-athlete profile and a properly prepared recruiting video, the next phase of the recruiting process begins. Student-athletes must follow up on all coach emails in a timely manner. Once communication is established, consider visiting schools to learn more, but research the schools and athletic programs carefully before taking unofficial visits (paid for by the parents) or official visits (paid for by the school). Understand the rules about the limitations and timing of those visits before you go so that you make the most of your trips.

Use Your Resources

The athletic recruiting process can be nuanced and confusing. We encourage all IECs who work with student-athletes to join the IECA Affinity Group for IECs Advising College-Bound Student-Athletes (https://network.iecaonline.com/communities) to learn more.

It’s a valuable resource for IECA members to ensure that they have the information about rules and so much more when advising student athletes. The group meets in person at the IECA fall and spring national conferences and holds virtual roundtable meetings using Zoom (online) between the conferences.

Marvelwood students want to achieve.

And because they are surrounded by peers with a matched level of grit and teachers with an unparalleled commitment to their success, they do. The transformations we see in our students over their years with us are nothing less than astounding. The source of this success? Resilience. Our students graduate with enduring courage, compassion, and confidence for their futures.

What does success look like?

CORNERSTONES

  • Experiential and hands-on curriculum
  • Support for all types of learners, including Orton-Gillingham and Wilson Reading-trained teachers
  • Connections program for social skills training
  • Weekly community service
    • International exchange, service, and exploration programs
  •  Competitive athletics
  •  Vibrant arts programming, including Film Studies and performing arts
  • Year-round gardening program

This article was reprinted with permission from the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), which published this piece in its April/May  2020 Insights newsletter. 

Katie Anderson

Katie Andersen can be reached at katie.andersen@ collegefitoc.com.

David Stoeckel can be reached at david@thestudentathleteadvisors. com.

Dave Stoeckel

 

 

 

 

 

Wow Writing Workshop is a premier college essay coaching and professional training company, working with students and training professionals throughout the world.

We operate on three principles: Process, Plan and Schedule.

Process: At Wow, our process is our magic. Our approach is simple, with clear instructions to help you succeed. We use the same process to work with students as we use to train professionals through our College Essay Experience, Partners program, college essay consults, plus our monthly free Pro Chats.

Plan: We’ll help you plan ahead so students can calmly write essays that will enhance their application.

Schedule: We follow a proven schedule that can adjust to meet the needs of our professional colleagues and our students. We make it easy to get it all done.

For more information about Wow’s coaching services for professionals and students, contact Kim Lifton kim@wowwritingworkshop.com.

Should Your Child Start Writing a College Essay NOW?

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

I was just wrapping up a college essay consult session with a professional client, who asked me what I thought about starting her students on the college essay now, while schools are closed.

While restaurants are closed.

When people are wearing plastic gloves out in public.

When you cannot find a roll of toilet paper at Publix or Kroger or Costco.

When the movie theater is closed. And when we cannot even sit inside of a Starbucks and chat with our friends.

These are unsettling, super stressful times.

The answer to her question, “Should we start students on college essays now?” doesn’t have a simple answer.

You need to ask yourself and your child a few more questions:

Why? Why now? Is it urgent?

Do you want to get your teen started on the essays because you want to give them something to do? Because they are bored? Because you are fresh out of ideas? Worried?

That all makes perfect sense to me, but none of these are good reasons to actually write an essay right now.

Unless the student will reliably start it and finish the essay soon, it won’t work. Unless the essay is something they can focus on – and I mean really focus on – it won’t work.

It’s hard to focus and also hard to stick to a routine.

  1. Do you have a plan for your child?
  2. Do you have a schedule to help them get those essays done, without losing momentum?
  3. Do you have a process to follow?
  4. Or were you thinking you could just wing it? 

    No matter what you advise your child to do, don’t forget the fundamentals: Plan. Process. Schedule.

Make sure you have a plan so your child can finish what they start.

Make sure you have a process to follow so your child knows exactly what they are doing and WHY.

And make sure your child can stick to a schedule. Everything is up in the air right now. Help your child stay focused.

So back to that original question: “Should my child write their college essays now?”

Ask yourself the right questions, and you’ll come up with the right answer.

Meanwhile, now is a very good time to ask questions and learn more. I hope you’ll encourage your child to join me on Tuesday, April 7, at 7 p.m. ET for a free, 1-hour class, to help you prepare for your college essay. Sign up and watch us live, or get a recording later.

Get Started on Your College Essay – Free

It can be hard for students to write about themselves, especially when the stakes are so high. I’ll help you prepare now, so you can write your essay whenever you are ready. I’ll answer your questions, too. Sign up here.

Stay healthy. We’re sending warm and calming thoughts to all of you.

About the Author

Kim Lifton is President and Co-founder of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication company specializing in college admission and grad school application essay writing and professional training. She leads a team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Wow’s team teaches students how to write application essays, and provides expert training on their unique approach to professionals who want to improve their essay coaching practices. Kim blogs regularly about the college essay’s role in the admission process for multiple industry publications and websites. In 2019, she was named a LinkedIn Top Voice in Education.

Before co-founding Wow, Kim worked as a reporter and communication consultant. Highlights include: Co-producing a PBS documentary about teens and depression, No Ordinary Joe: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness; writing “First Class,” a weekly lifestyle column about the area’s most successful businessmen and women for the Detroit Free Press; creating “A Small Business Adventure,” a 12-part monthly series about the perils and pitfalls of running a small business for the Detroiter Magazine; supervising a public relations campaign and accompanying print materials that attracted local and national print, radio, and TV media coverage for the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual convention in celebrating its 100th anniversary.

We’re getting ready to accept applications to reserve a space for college essay coaching for the Class of 2021. If you are interested in reserving a spot, email me kim@wowwritingworkshop.com. 

 

The Truth About College Admission Rates

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

The competition to get into the nation’s top colleges gets tougher every year, but that’s not because students are smarter or more qualified than they were five or ten years ago.

It’s a simple matter of impossible math.

Year after year, more kids apply for the same number of available spaces at the most selective schools. It is impossible for them all to get in.

Because it is so hard to get into the top name-brand schools (think Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, MIT, Vanderbilt, Columbia, University of Chicago, to name a few), the students who are qualified for the most selective colleges look elsewhere to improve their chances. They use modern technology to apply to more schools than they might have otherwise considered.

Today, students can apply to multiple schools, whether they choose five or 15, using one of several streamlined applications that make the process almost seamless (though no less expensive). The most popular is the Common Application, which was used by nearly 700 member colleges and universities in 2017, and grows every year. The Common App makes applying to college so easy that students frequently check boxes for schools they might normally ignore if more effort were required.

This practice helps colleges increase their applicant pool. It works well for schools because it makes them look more selective. If a school can accept only 1,200 students and 6,000 apply, the admit rate — or the percentage of students the school accepts — will be 20%. If 12,000 apply, the college will enroll the same number of first-year students, but the admit rate will plummet to 10%. On paper, it will look like this college has become more selective (“We accept only 10% of applicants.”) This practice can be challenging for students like you who just want to get into a good college.

The Universal College Application, a spin-off from the Common App, is less known in the college world. But, like the Common App, it can be used to apply to multiple schools. Texas has its own application, called ApplyTexas, as do the University of California system, New York’s SUNY schools and several other state networks. There’s also the Coalition App.

Confused? Overwhelmed? Remember, all applications are used to help colleges decide which students to admit. That’s why essays are so important. With more and more students applying to the same schools, you need to help readers see beyond your grades, scores and a list of activities.

To learn more, order your copy of Wow Writing Workshop’s How to Write an Effective College Application Essay –  The Inside Scoop for Students! Parents, don’t worry, we wrote a companion guide for you, too.

About Wow Writing Workshop

Wow is a team of professional writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by independent educational consultants, high school counselors and English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great poem or short story. If it involves words, we can help!

 

 

 

 

 

A Professional New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep!

Happy New Year!

 

As a rule of thumb, we do not like New Year’s resolutions. Most are too big and fuzzy –not to mention hard to achieve: going to the gym every day; getting organized; cutting out sugar… How many times have you heard these?

 

The problem is these are huge commitments that will surely set you up to fail. Want to know what won’t set you up to fail?  Picking one thing you can get better at professionally, and then slowly working toward it. Nothing that requires 5 hours. Every. Single. Day. And certainly not, “I will never eat another slice of bread.” Like that’s going to happen.

Here’s a resolution we’d like to suggest: Improve your essay coaching practice, even just a little tiny bit. That’s doable. And I have even better news for you: We can help. We know from years of training professionals just like you that the first step is to experience the essay writing process from the inside out.  It’s how we trained our coaches, Joe and David, and it’s how we’ve been training the counselors and consultants in our Partners program for the last five years.

 

We thought, What if we took that experience and created a stand-alone opportunity for everyone? And so we did! It’s called the College Essay Experience. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever created, and if you know anything about us, you know that’s saying a lot.

 

For years, we’ve given away lots of free stuff – monthly Pro Chats, tip sheets, writing exercises and webinars in our weekly emails – and we’re going to continue on that track. We have lots to share. But did you know we also offer first-rate paid training programs that are unlike anything else you’ve experienced?

 

We do, and the counselors and consultants who have taken advantage of them regularly tell us that their choice to invest in Wow training was among the best professional decisions they’ve made. We know we haven’t always done a great job of telling you what we offer – we’re so busy giving you crazy good free resources, we’re afraid we’ve sometimes failed to remind you that there’s so. much. more. goodness and transformation waiting for you in our paid programs.

 

We’re going to fix that and start making sure you know about everything we offer – not just the free stuff. (Of course, you can have that, too!) Here’s your first chance to jump in. Come learn how to improve your college essay coaching process during a FREE webinar on Wednesday, January 15. (This takes the place of the monthly Pro Chat).

We’ll give you lots of valuable info for free right there on the webinar, and we’ll also share how you can learn even more through our new program. Again, find out how to improve your college essay coaching process during our free webinar on Wednesday, January 15.

 

Get a Taste of the College Essay Experience
You’ll get a glimpse into what it’s like to write your own essay, we’ll share some more free stuff, and we’ll introduce you to our exciting new program for professionals, the College Essay Experience. Sign Up Here Can’t make it? No problem. Just register, and we’ll send you the recording.

MSU Admissions Director Shares Tips for Getting In

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop
MSU
John Ambrose of MSU

I met Michigan State University’s Executive Director of Admissions and Recruitment John Ambrose at an industry meeting in Toronto in 2013. Over the years, we have talked quite a bit about the college essay and its role within the application process at MSU.

John sat in on a college essay training we conducted for the Detroit College Access Network; he was such a good sport he let us ask him a question during the training.  A few years ago, he convinced me to run  an essay writing workshop during our busy season for his favorite nonprofit serving underrepresented youth: Midnight Golf. It was a morning presentation; I stayed all day reading essays for his students.

He inspires me. I hope he inspires you, too. Here is some of John Ambrose’s best advice for families who have students who want to apply to MSU:

What is the secret to getting into MSU?

Be your most authentic self! Students put a lot of effort into trying to convince admissions officers who they think we want to see. Authenticity is always appreciated.

What’s your elevator pitch to prospective Spartans?

MSU is looking for people who care about making a difference in the world. The SPARTANS WILL speaks to the heart of who we are as SPARTANS and the attitude we have about developing world changers.
What advice do you give to parents who say college is so competitive today they would not be admitted to the colleges they attended?

Each year the application pool changes from the size to the strength of the academic profile. MSU is no different we have watched our application counts grow along with the academic profile. A number of students in our entering class begin at MSU with college credits they earned while they were in high school and that’s one of the biggest changes from then to now.

What do you look for in a college essay?

The college essay is the one thing that can separate you from everyone else in the application pool. I look doe genuineness of character, unique flair of personality, identifiable traits of a leader or follower, team player and someone who has the capacity to add to the rich diversity of our campus and our traditions as a SPARTAN Nation.

What’s the typical GPA of an admitted MSU student?

Our freshman profile at the 50th percentile ranges from a 3.5 – 3.9 GPA, and 1130-1300 SAT Composite and a 23-29 ACT.

How important is AP and IB?

We encourage students to challenge themselves and take the highest level of preparatory coursework available. AP and IB students gain a wealth of academic texture and contextual rigor that provides them with a wonderful sense of preparedness prior to enrolling in college or university. I think it is very important to the academic experience that a high school student can choose from.

What are the top factors you consider for admission to MSU?

1. GPA
2. Test Score
3. Rigor
4. Grade trend

We also consider the personal statement, senior year schedule, and extra-curricular activity as a part of our holistic review.

How can an application essay help an applicant?

In the essay, take the opportunity to show us your authentic self and try really hard not repeat things that are already apart of your application. I wish students spent more time on their essay.

What advice would you give to a prospective student whose grades and test scores are not a sure thing for MSU?

If they want to be at MSU, we want them to be here, too. Transferring into MSU is competitive but not at the same volume as entering with the freshman class. Students have a strong opportunity to transfer who have 28 earned college credits, completed college algebra and college writing, while maintaining a 3.0 or better cumulative grade point average.

How do you respond to a student who thinks the MSU campus is too big?

You can always make big things smaller, and we have done that by offering living and learning programs that give the student a small college feel in a large university setting. Additionally, we have compartmentalized the campus into geographic pockets we call neighborhoods by decentralizing some key support services, so you don’t have to travel across campus to go to tutoring or the health clinic. Those services are available in each neighborhood. Come see us, and we will be happy to show you around the campus!

Does Your Child Need Help Applying to MSU?

We’ve been super busy this season. But we’ve got openings beginning today if you still need help with college essays for MSU or any school. Click here if you’re interesting in learning more about Wow services.

Have Your Read our Book for Parents?
The only college prep book you’ll need

Success on the essay begins at home. Learn how to support your child with their college essay without taking over in our book for parents, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents. 

How to Write an Effective College Application Essay is a simple, straightforward guide offering insight from our decades of experience as writers and writing teachers; it provides tips so you can prepare your child to respond to any college application essay question. In the book, we clarify the mixed messages that confuse parents and students, to help families like yours make sense out of the noise surrounding the essay.

Get your copy here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Lifton can get a story out of anyone writing an effective college application essay
Wow President Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton, President and Founder of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication company, leads a professional team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Kim teaches students how to write application essays for college and graduate school and adults how to write anything that involves the written word (such as books). She was named a Top Voice in Education by LinkedIn.

Before co-founding Wow, Kim worked as a reporter and communication consultant. Highlights include: Co-producing a PBS documentary about teens and depression, No Ordinary Joe: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness; writing “First Class,” a weekly lifestyle column about the area’s most successful businessmen and women for the Detroit Free Press; and creating “A Small Business Adventure,” a 12-part monthly series about the perils and pitfalls of running a small business for the Detroiter Magazine.

 

An Inside Look at College Admission from the Industry’s Top Official

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

NACAC President Stefanie Niles

Stefanie Niles, President of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, the leading national organization for college admission professionals, has worked inside college admissions offices for decades. She shared some insight with Wow to help guide parents and students who are preparing for college through the stressful process.

Niles, Vice president for Enrollment and Communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, previously held top admissions and financial aid positions at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and  DePauw University in Greencastle, IN.

I met Niles at a conference for the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling last spring. We spoke later about her career path, the importance of the college essay, and some other key issues students and parents tell me are important: tuition, what colleges want from students, getting in and how students can stand out in their application packages.

“I believe that essays will remain a critical part of the application process.”
What are the biggest challenges facing the college admission world in 2019?

“One of the greatest challenges facing college admissions (and the one that keeps me up at night) is the escalating cost of college.,” said Niles, “More and more students and their families are being pinched by rising tuition, and financial aid packages that don’t meet their demonstrated financial need. I believe that, as a nation, we are going to have to address this critical issue in the next decade, or we will continue to see more colleges close, and fewer students seeking higher education options as the market is simply too expensive.”

What do you wish parents/students and everyone else knew about college admission?

 There are so many terrific colleges options. I wish they knew that it isn’t mission critical to secure admission at a select group of 8 or 12 or 20 colleges, but that there are many places where students will be challenges, motivated, and grow the skills to be productive adults.

What do you wish parents and students knew about you and your admission colleagues – the people who say yes or no to their applications?

“Like many who work in college admissions, my overarching goal is to help as many students access a college education, regardless of where they choose to enroll. While the college admission process can be stressful, nerve wracking and challenging, 99% of the individuals who work in college admissions do so because they want to assist and support students in finding the right college fit.  You don’t have to go it alone. I have counseled many students about the college search and selection process – many of whom were interested in the institution for which I worked, but often those who were not.!

Students are often reluctant to email or call a college admission office Is it okay for a student to contact the admissions office with questions?

“Almost any college admission counselor, regardless of the institution for which they work, will sit down with a student and help them sort out their interests and needs as they relate to the college experience.”

Your career has focused on liberal arts colleges. What draws you to the liberal arts?

“I love the broad range of skills that a liberal arts education offers to students. A liberal arts education helps develop the ability to think critically and analytically, communicate effectively, solve problems, and work collaboratively with others. These skills, among others, are necessary to manage today’s challenges – and those we will face tomorrow. As many of the jobs individuals will hold 10 and 20 years from now don’t even exist today, having a background that encourages creativity, ability and flexibility – as a liberal arts education provides – will be best suited not only to fill the jobs of tomorrow, but to identify the problems we face and help create the jobs that will enable us to address them.”

What’s your message to parents who believe their child will not get into a “good” college?

“A “good” college is a place where a student will thrive; where he or she will be exposed to new ideas, new challenges, and perspectives different than their own; where the student grows intellectually and personally, and where they have the opportunity to take advantage of experiences that will open their minds to different experiences and cultures that may shape their professional journey.  My son was accepted to 10 colleges, which sounds like a lot!  But he had such a hard time choosing among them, as each offered him distinctive, interesting, challenging opportunities in settings where he felt he would both fit in, and be challenged by a new environment.  It was an eye-opening, real life example for me of how there are many great choices, not just one right fit for a student!”

How important is the essay inside the college admission offices where you have worked?

“Many liberal arts colleges find that the essay can both provide insight into how a student might fit into an institution, and if they possess the basic writing skills to excel in that environment.  I have definitely seen a poor essay, submitted with an otherwise solid application, keep a student from being admitted.  I have also seen a particularly strong essay, submitted with an application containing some red flags, tip the scale toward a positive admission decision.  The essay, in my experience, definitely matters in an admission committee’s overall consideration of a student’s admissibility to an institution.”

What else do you look for in an application essay?

“It is important to assess how well a student can write – can they construct a coherent sentence?  Can they follow directions regarding length?  Do they use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation?  Yet I also want to be sure that students address the question asked of them in a way that gives me insight into who they are.  I believe that a student should write about what is important and meaningful to them, and that feeling will shine through their essay. “

As College admission changes, where does the essay fit?

“Certainly, at liberal arts institutions, I believe that essays will remain a critical part of the application process.  Good writing is a skill that will stand the test of time, and liberal arts colleges will continue to require that their students use their writing abilities to express themselves effectively.  A strong college admission essay is the first step on a long path towards securing a high-quality college education and developing the skills necessary to be successful in one’s future career.”

What’s your No. 1 tip for students writing any type of college admission essay?

“Have someone else review your work.  No matter how good a writer you are, it is important to have another set of eyes on your work to avoid any errors – big or small – that you might overlook.”

What are the biggest mistakes you see in the college admission essays you read?

“I’ve seen lots of careless mistakes, like misspelling the name of the major you wish to pursue.   I’ve also seen too many students write an essay as if they were writing a text, without capitalizing words and using little punctuation.  But the biggest mistake is not putting in the appropriate effort to write the very best essay you can.  An essay doesn’t have to be long to be a high-quality piece, but care needs to be taken to answer the question you are asked, and to be thoughtful in both what you say and how you say it.”

What else would you like students and parents to know about the college application process?

“Start the process early, ask questions, visit campuses if you can, and talk to current students, recent alumni, faculty members, coaches, and staff members who work at the schools you are considering.  You will learn a lot by keeping your eyes and ears open, and by interacting with the individuals who know the institution the best – members of the campus community.”

Our Gift to You: Free Book
The only college prep book you’ll need

Success on the essay begins at home. Learn how to support your child with their college essay without taking over in our book for parents, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents. It’s yours FREE for a limited time only.

How to Write an Effective College Application Essay is a simple, straightforward guide offering insight from our decades of experience as writers and writing teachers; it provides tips so you can prepare your child to respond to any college application essay question. In the book, we clarify the mixed messages that confuse parents and students, to help families like yours make sense out of the noise surrounding the essay.

Get your copy here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Lifton

Kim Lifton, President and Founder of Wow Writing Workshop,  leads a professional team of writers and teachers who understand the writing process inside and out. Kim teaches students how to write application essays for college and graduate school and adults how to write anything that involves the written word (such as books). Recently, she was named a Top Voice in Education by LinkedIn. Kim supervises Wow’s business communication services, including running online seminars for small business and nonprofit leaders interested in blogging and social media.

Before co-founding Wow, Kim worked as a reporter and communication consultant. Highlights include: Co-producing a PBS documentary about teens and depression, No Ordinary Joe: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness;  writing  “First Class,” a weekly lifestyle column about the area’s most successful businessmen and women for the Detroit Free Press; creating “A Small Business Adventure,” a 12-part monthly series about the perils and pitfalls of running a small business for the Detroiter Magazine;  supervising a public relations campaign and accompanying print materials that attracted local and national print, radio and TV media coverage for the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual convention, celebrating its 100th anniversary.

We’re still accepting students from the Class of 2020. Visit Wow for more information.

Contact Kim anytime at kim@wowwritingworkshop.com.