Tag: college

How to Write an Effective College Application Essay

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Every summer, moms and dads just like you call us in a panic, asking for help understanding college application essays. They’re worried about the competition to get into college – and the amount of work required to stand out and get noticed. Most of all, they’re concerned that their children are not done writing yet.

Whether they are home or away for the summer, it’s time to make sure they’re moving on those college application essays. The essay is the most daunting part of the application process for many students, and you don’t want your child to wait until the last minute to start.

We wrote the only book you’ll need to prepare your children for this journey, and keep things a little calmer for your family at home. Yes, it’s time to start writing, but there’s no need to agonize over it. We just updated our popular guide, specifically for helping parents get a handle on the essay. The book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents, just $9.99 and now available in paperback, will help you walk your child through the writing process – and feel good about it. You’ll also learn how to guide them through the essay without taking over.

In this 2017 edition, we’ve explained what all the Common Application prompts mean, including the new and revised questions, plus we’ve added tips from top admissions officers. We also explain the various types of prompts you can expect.

Parents tell us they are tired of being told to step away and back off. They want to help. They just don’t know how. We will never suggest you write an application essay yourself or edit an essay so heavily it loses your child’s personality and voice. However, we believe you can play a critical role in the writing process.

You don’t need a 300-page book to help your child write a 600-word essay. But you can benefit greatly from a how-to guide, with some context to keep the process in perspective. How to Write an Effective College Application Essay is that guide. It’s short, easy to follow and has everything required to teach your child how to reflect on life experiences so they can write great essays.

At its core, the college essay is about reflection. That’s challenging because most 17-year-olds have very little practice with this type of thinking and writing. You are more prepared to help your child learn this important skill than you may even know. We’ve seen other parents do it, and they are always surprised by how straightforward it is. Many are also surprised by how wrong they were initially about their role in the process.

At Wow, we’ve been teaching students how to write essays that stand out inside the admissions office for years. With Inside Scoop as your guide, your son or daughter can approach essay writing calmly and confidently, and get a better shot at admission to their dream school.

Wow can help your child succeed on the college application essay, no matter where you are in the journey. Check out our free and paid services.

We Wrote the Only College Application Guide You’ll Ever Need!

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

At the end of every school year, moms and dads call us in a panic, asking for help understanding college application essays. They tell us they are worried about the competition to get into college – and the amount of work required for their children to stand out and get noticed inside the admissions office.

We will never suggest you write a college application essay for your child, or edit an essay so heavily it loses your child’s personality and voice. But we believe you can play a critical role in the preparation process. Who else would go to the moon and back for your child?

For more specific tips, check out our popular book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Parents; it was just released in paperback ($9.99). The book takes less than an hour to read and provides everything you need to help your child write meaningful college application essays that admissions officers will want to read.

Parents have called the book engaging, informative and a must-read for any parent with a child applying to college. Here are a few reviews:

Debbie Logan, from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, read the book before her second daughter applied to college. (She now attends Columbia University.) Logan said the book helped her keep a healthy distance from her second daughter’s application, particularly the essay. “This book gave me insight into the parent’s role in the process. I had no idea what colleges were looking for or where my job ended. The insight is priceless.”

Rebecca Gold, from Providence, Rhode Island, was about to start working with her third child on the college application journey when she read the guide. She said it was easy to follow, well-written and more helpful than any other college-related book for parents. “Rather than telling me what to do, the authors helped me understand what my son needed to be successful in this essay writing process, and what I could do to support him.”

Mark Cornillie, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, thought his background in public relations and journalism would be valuable when his sons applied to college. The book gave him a reality check. “I thought I had some wonderful ideas about the essays my son should write and how he should write them. This book convinced me to step back, and empowered my son to remind me whenever my conviction faltered. The essay he submitted was wholly his own, and not only did he achieve admission to his top-choice school, but his essay was among a handful referenced in a letter by the Dean of Admissions to incoming students. I doubt my envisioned ‘perfect’ essay would have achieved that.”

Our Go-to Guide Parses all 7 Common Application Prompts

How to Write an Effective College Application Essay includes a complete list of the new Common App prompts; we’ve even parsed all 7 prompts to make your job easier. You’ll find chapters with useful resources, information on our unique approach to writing the essay, and additional access to writing exercises we use with our own students.

The essay is the most daunting part of the college application process for many students; you won’t want your child to wait till the last minute to start. Start now. Parents who read our book and follow our advice are always surprised by how straightforward it is. Many are also surprised by how wrong they were about their role in the process.

When students learn how to reflect before they start writing, they write more meaningful college essays. With our book as your guide, you can help your child approach the college application essay calmly and confidently, and get a better shot at admission to their dream school.

Get your copy of How To Write An Effective College Application Essay now. It’s just $9.99.

College is Coming Soon … is Your Teen Ready for the Journey?

What to do NOW to prepare your child for college

By Kim Lifton

College Essay Expert Kim Lifton will show you how to help your child in Unstoppable Teen interview series
College Essay Expert Kim Lifton

Is your child ready for the college journey? Are you? What are you doing to help keep the peace at home during this unusually stressful time?

Today’s teens are under SO much pressure to succeed!   Every spring, parents call us in a panic, wanting help with the college essays because they are worried that their children will not get into college.

While the fear is unfounded, it often feels real. What’s more, the essay can make the process even more daunting, and it should feel like an opportunity, not a burden.

Writing an effective college essay is more important than ever, and doing it right does set students apart inside an increasingly competitive admissions business. But if students take the time to learn HOW to write it, from beginning to end, anxiety levels should decrease in your house.  We can help calm your teen, and you, during the college admission season. We wrote a book for you so you know how to get your child prepared, and we can teach your child  how to write that essay.

Our students get into their top choice colleges year after year; your child should too. To learn more about what it takes, check out my interview with Dr. Maggie Wray, a leading educational psychologist from Atlanta, for her 3rd annual Unstoppable Teens Online Interview Series.

I loved my interview with Dr. Wray. She asked fantastic questions! We talked about what the essay is, our new book for parents like you, why your child needs to write 1 or 10 essays, what admissions wants, and how to knock it out of the ballpark so admissions will notice your child.

3rd Annual Unstoppable Teens Online Interview Series
Helping parents empower their teens to excel in high school, college, and beyond!
 June 14-24

Please join me. Grab your FREE seat here. 

This online interview series was designed to help parents empower  teens with the skills they’ll need to get into a great college (get our NEW book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay – The Inside Scoop for Parents, to learn how to help your child write a stand-out college essay), AND How to excel once they get there.

During this event, some of the top experts in education, college admissions, parenting, and psychology will be sharing their insights and strategies about how to help your teen…

  • Write outstanding essays (that’s me!)
  • Better grades with less stress
  • Ace their SAT and ACT tests
  • Find a college that’s a GREAT fit for them
  • Win more college scholarships
  • Successfully transition to life as a college student
  • Start thinking about career choices

…and so much more!

I’m honored to be one of the featured speakers on this series and am looking forward to sharing this information with you!

I’ll look forward to seeing you there! Thanks & best wishes.

 Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication and writing services company. Wow was founded by 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 English teachers to improve student writing skills. To reserve a space for the upcoming season, sign up now for one Complete Essay writing package. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 500 Colleges Still Have Spots — and Money!

The number of colleges still accepting applications for Fall 2017 continues to grow.

More than 500 institutions have openings, financial aid, and housing available to qualified freshmen and/or transfer students, according to NACAC’s College Openings Update.

When survey was first posted on Thursday morning, the list included 414 colleges and universities. Since that time, dozens of additional schools have added their information. The update, which includes public and private institutions located here and abroad, will continue to be modified by colleges and universities through July 30.

Students still looking for a school can use the College Openings Update to refine their search. Admission is contingent upon each institution’s review of application information.

Explore NACAC’s College Openings Update and learn more about the resource.

This story was reprinted from the National Association of College Admissions Counseling newsletter.

Wow is accepting students now for the Class of 2018! Reserve your space now to guarantee a coach throughout the season. To get started, Just sign up for one Complete Essay Package. An email with instructions will follow. 

What You Need to Know About the New Common App Essay Prompts

By Susan Knoppow CommonApp_logo
CEO
Wow Writing Workshop

Have you seen the two new essay prompts on the Common Application? Every few years, the Common App, a tool used by more than 700 colleges to help students apply seamlessly to multiple schools, updates its essay prompts. The changes are based on feedback from students, parents, high school counselors, educational consultants and member schools following each admissions cycle. This year, the Common App added two new prompts; they also tweaked some of the current questions.
What does it all mean for high school juniors who are about to start the journey to college? Nothing, really. The task is the same. The revisions to prompts 2, 3 and 5 clarify the purpose of those questions, while the new prompts provide a few more options.

Reflection Matters Most

Just released in paperback

The changes reinforce the message we share with our students and in our popular book, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, which was just released in paperback. At its core, a personal statement is all about reflection. An effective essay shows insight into a student’s character because it answers two central questions: 1) What happened? and 2) Why does it matter?

Why a topic matters to a student (the reflection) is more important than what happened (the experience, the activity, the idea, the concept, or the person who influenced that student).
Here are 4 simple steps to help you understand any Common App prompt so you can choose a meaningful topic that demonstrates both what happened and why it matters.

  1. Review the instructions
    Most students skip straight to the prompts and miss the important information built into the instructions. Make sure you read this first: “The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.”
  2. Ask one more question
    Before choosing a prompt or exploring topics, ask yourself: What do I want colleges to know about me that they wouldn’t otherwise know from the rest of my application? Think about traits and characteristics, not accomplishments.
  3. Review the prompts
    Look closely at the seven prompts once you know which characteristic(s) you want to share. (We’ve tackled #6 and #7 below.) Do not dive into topic ideas until you’ve confirmed that you understand the 7 options.
  4. Brainstorm ideas
    The goal is to find a topic that best illustrates the trait or traits you want to share, and which also responds directly to the prompt. If you choose a story but can’t explain why it makes a strong Common App topic, or how it demonstrates something meaningful about you, you’re not ready to write a draft.

The New Prompts: What Are They All About?
Just to confirm that we understood the purpose of the changes, we went straight to the source – Scott Anderson, Senior Director of Education and Partnerships for the Common Application. He said:

Scott Anderson – The Common App

The prompts have changed slightly, but the instructions remain the same: What do you want application readers to know about you? The prompts simply serve to help students approach that question from as many angles as possible, whether it be maturity, identity, curiosity, pastimes, aspirations, community, relationships, or anything else. Students should pick the prompt that supports and gets them excited about the story they want to tell about themselves.

Here’s our take on Prompts #6 and #7, which have generated the most questions from our students and industry colleagues:

Prompt 6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

The key word in this prompt is “engaging,” but even that word can seem overwhelming. Remind yourself that the essay is not about the topic, idea or concept; it’s about the applicant. You don’t have to impress with big ideas. Try asking yourself questions like these: Why is this topic, idea or concept so engaging? How does it make me feel? Who do I talk to about these ideas? Where do I go to research new concepts? What have I learned about myself?

Maybe you care about social justice. Perhaps you’re captivated by humor or technology. You can explore the concept overall or share an example of that concept in action. Whether you collected clothes and toiletries for a local family who lost their home in a fire or attracted ten thousand followers by tweeting a daily joke, why did you do it? How does that activity demonstrate how you think, problem-solve or process information? What did you learn about yourself? How did the idea affect or change you? If you want to focus on the big picture, make sure you know how you want to approach the concept before starting to write a first draft.

Prompt 7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The key word in this prompt is “choice.” While #7 appears to be different from the other prompts, the purpose is the same. Yes, applicants can submit any essay they want in that 650-word space, but as the overall instructions clearly state, even an A+ paper must still illustrate something meaningful about the student.

Suppose you want to submit a critical analysis you wrote for Honors English about a character in Jayne Eyre. Could it work? Maybe. Ask yourself what the essay demonstrates about you. Do you yearn for more than what traditional society allows, like Jane? Does the paper demonstrate how the book propelled you toward political activism? Does it show how the book changed you? After admissions officers read the paper, will they learn something new about you? If not, it won’t work as a college essay, no matter how well-written.

Both new prompts do exactly what the old ones did – maybe better.

Parents, find out how you can help your child respond to any prompt in our next monthly Parent Chat. It’s June 6, and it’s free. If you cannot make it, sign up anyway, and we’ll send you a recording.

Counselors and other professionals, find out TOMORROW how you can help your students respond to any prompt in our monthly pro-chat. It’s a free 30-minute session just for you, too. Join us live or listen to the recording.

The Only College Application Guide You’ll Ever Need!

Wow’s guide embraces parents, rather than pushing them away.

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Every August, moms and dads just like you call us in a panic, asking for help understanding college application essays. They’re worried about the competition to get into college – and the amount of work required to stand out and get noticed. Most of all, they’re concerned that their children are not done writing yet.

Whether your child is back in school or about to enter senior year, it’s time to make sure they’re moving on those college essays. The essay is the most daunting part of the application process for many students, and you don’t want your child to wait till the last minute to start.

The Go To Guide to Help Kids Write College Essays 

Yes, it’s time to write, but there’s no need to agonize over it. We just released our first guide specifically for helping parents get a handle on the essay. The eBook, How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents, will help you walk your child through the writing process – and feel good about it. You’ll also learn how to guide them through the essay without taking it over.

Parents tell us they are tired of being told to step away and back off. They want to help. They just don’t know how. We will never suggest you write an application essay yourself or edit an essay so heavily it loses your child’s personality and voice. However, we believe you can play a critical role in the writing process.

You don’t need a 300-page book to help your child write a 650-word Common App essay or to write a 350-word response to one of the University of California’s new personal insight questions. But you will  benefit from Wow’s short parent guide that gives you simple instructions so you can help your child  write an effective essay, and put it into perspective.  It’s easy to follow and has everything required to teach your child how to reflect on life experiences so he or she can write great essays.

At its core, the college essay is about reflection. That’s challenging because most 17-year-olds have very little practice with this type of thinking and writing. You are more prepared to help your child learn this important skill than you may even know. We’ve seen other parents do it, and they are always surprised by how straightforward it is. Many are also surprised by how wrong they were initially about their role in the process.

Find Out How Parents Can Help

At Wow, we’ve been teaching students how to write essays that stand out inside the admissions office for years. With How to Write an Effective College Application Essay: The Inside Scoop for Parents as your guide, your son or daughter can approach essay writing calmly and confidently, and get a better shot at admission to their dream school.

Everything in this guide comes from what we’ve learned from working with students and talking to admissions officers. We’re glad to share this valuable insight to help you understand the college admissions industry. And, because we care so much about writing, we’re practically giving away all of our secrets in the Inside Scoop for $9.99.

Please join me tomorrow night for our 30-minute monthly parent chat; you can ask me anything about the college essay and its role inside the admissions world. It’s FREE! 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 2. Can’t make it? No problem. Sign up, and we’ll send you a recording. 

 

Curious About College?

 

By Kim Lifton
Presidentmother-daughter_400px

Wow Writing Workshop

It’s that time of year again. The seniors at your child’s school are either making college choices or waiting anxiously to hear from the schools of their dreams. Meanwhile, the pressure turns to the junior class, and it can be taxing. At Wow, we know how to take some of that stress out of your child’s journey to college.

We have developed some simple, effective tools to help prepare you. We’ll teach you how to give the right type of guidance on the college essay in our free parent programs.

We’ve also reached out to a few national college counseling experts to break down the college prep process for you, and to give some perspective to the challenging essay. Understanding how the essay fits into the whole admissions process is important; it’s equally important to start a conversation about it with your child as you begin the college search.

“As stressful as this is, and as overwhelming as it seems, this process is manageable,” explains Ralph Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. “Break it down, step-by-step and year-by-year. You do not need to face the whole huge path at once.”

Figueroa, a former member of the Common Application Board of Advisers, was one of Wow’s guests in a webinar you can access here: Get Ready! Get Set! Get In! Starting Your Journey.

An industry insider, he understands the process from every possible angle; as Associate Dean of Admission at Wesleyan University, Figueroa was the central figure in the New York Times bestseller, The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.

Marie Bigham, Director of College Counseling at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, LA., joined Figueroa on the webinar. A board member for the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Association of Counselors in Independent Schools, Bigham also worked inside the admissions office as an Associate Director of Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis.

Bigham provided us with a great roadmap for each year of high school for you and your child to discuss to better prepare for college.

9th Grade

  • Don’t worry about college. Worry about being the best high school student you can be. The reward of that follows.
  • You want to be able to look at your transcript and say, “This represents the best of me.”

10th grade

  • Assess what’s working and what could use improvement
  • Ask yourself these questions: “How can I enhance the skills I have? How can I develop the skills I need?”
  • Assess yourself. Continue trying to be the best student you can be. Think about what is interesting to you.

11th grade

  • Continue your self-assessment, and ask yourself these questions: “How can I be more flexible? How can I improve?”
  • Make an appropriate test calendar; prepare for the SAT and/or ACT and subject and AP exams.
  • Visit colleges that are not just name brands; try a few schools on for size and fit. Be focused. Put the pieces together, with an eye toward being the most successful college student you can be.

12th grade

  • Narrow down your college list in the early fall; complete it by early October.
  • The list should be realistic based on where you will be admitted and how much you can afford. If your list includes places that you would be happy to attend, where you know you are admissible, you’ll be fine.
  • This is the time to hone organizational skills, time management tools, and good decision-making abilities. These are critical skills in college, and life, so start using them now.
  • Stay on top of deadlines. You have every option in the world until you start missing deadlines.
  • Think of this process as a semester-long class. Work the process into your schedule, and stick to it.
  • Plan to be finished by Thanksgiving, if at all possible, so you can enjoy the holidays without college applications looming over your head and family conversations.
  • “It is not that hard to get into college,” Bigham said. “When people set limits on what is right or acceptable for them, like when they only apply to the most selective schools, things narrow down fast. Instead, we need to talk about what is important to students.”

Still curious? Ask me anything about the college essay during my next parent chat on Tuesday, April 19. I’ll give the scoop, and suggest ways to help your child without taking over the college essay. Here is a link to sign up for the next parent program, and to learn more about Wow’s coaching services. Wow students get into their top choice schools, year after year. Yours should too.

Paying for College Without Going Broke

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

Headed to college this fall? It’s time to consider in earnest what the actual price is going to look like. But before you do that, you might want to take a look at this insightful webinar we moderated with leading experts who can help you understand the complexities of financial aid.

You might learn that price might not need to limit your choices once you have all of your options in front of you.

In this webinar, Jennifer Ramsey Wallace, the Outreach Manager for Financial Aid Programs for the Michigan Education Trust, the state’s prepaid education plan, and a leading expert on other financial aid programs, discusses the issues with Dean Tsouvalas, creator of the free scholarship information app Scholarship Advisor.

Together, they can help you untangle the complexities of financial aid, share scholarship opportunities and suggest ways for parents and students to discuss these issues honestly at home.

You can also download our Financial Aid Resource List, which includes a list of websites mentioned in the webinar, and read Wow’s Financial Aid Cheat Sheet and 6 Secrets to Filling out the FAFSA.

Link to webinar
https://wowwritingworkshop.com/paying-college-without-going-broke/

Secure Your Spot at a Top College

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

College, James CotterHigh school students, Michigan State University’s Director of Admissions James Cotter has an important message to share with you about where you will get into college.

“Everyone can be admitted somewhere,” said Cotter, a 30-year veteran of the college admissions office. “Don’t worry so much about getting in; worry about getting out. Where can you be admitted that you can succeed?”

During his tenure, Cotter has accumulated quite a bit of first-hand knowledge about what it takes to get into college, as well as what it takes to succeed once you get there.

First, you have to be qualified. Make sure your grades and test scores match the school’s requirements. And always keep in mind, the college application essay can help you!

“It’s value-added,” Cotter told Wow. “At a moderately selective school, the essay can pull a student on the cusp up. At a highly selective school, a poor statement can make the difference between being admitted or not.”

Join Wow for FREE today to find out more about what Cotter has to say about getting into the Big 10 and other colleges, how admissions officers choose prospective students, and whether or not there is one perfect school for each applicant.

Curious About College?

College CuriousAre you a high school freshman, sophomore or junior? It’s time to start planning for college!

“Break it down, step-by-step and year-by-year. You do not need to face the whole huge path at once,” says Ralph Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. “As stressful as this is, and as overwhelming as it seems, this process is manageable.”

Figueroa, a former member of the Common Application Board of Advisors, was one of Wow’s featured guests in the webinar: Get Ready! Get Set! Get In! Starting Your Journey.

An industry insider, he understands the process from every possible angle; as Associate Dean of Admission at Wesleyan University, Figueroa was the central figure in the New York Times bestseller, The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.

His friend, Marie Bigham, Director of College Guidance at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas, joined Figueroa on the webinar. A board member for the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Association of Counselors in Independent Schools, Bigham also worked inside the admissions office as an Associate Director of Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis.

“It is not that hard to get into college,” Bigham says.

Join Wow for FREE to find out what Bigham means by that, and get specific tips and advice on what to do in Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 so you can stay calm and focused on the path to college.