Avoid Three Things on Your College Application Essay

During the summer before a student’s Senior year of high school, students and parents work hard on college applications. Some college deadlines start in the beginning of August! This is a time that students and parents are understandably nervous about applying to college. Students wonder if their junior year shows both their academic rigor as well as their commitment to activities outside of school. Students want to get into their “dream school” but they often do not know what to do every step of the way. Students often struggle with writing a thoughtful essay to

Submit to colleges to demonstrate their character. Here are some specific
take-aways that I find help my students:


  1. Make sure to answer the prompt!

One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is that students don’t address the question laid out in the prompt. This demonstrates one of two things: either the student did not understand the prompt or the student was not capable of answering the prompt. Both faults can be detrimental to a student’s overall application. Admissions committees ask specific questions for a reason. They want to know if you will fit into the culture of the college, and that the student’s values align with those of the college. They need this information to make the best decision, for you and for

college. Don’t jeopardize your admission by not answering the prompt directly.


  1. Don’t write in clichés

Writing in clichés is something that tutors, teachers, and admissions committees dislike vehemently. Why? A couple of reasons: Clichés come from popular culture and are often only understood by a particular group. Your essay should be clear and concise – anyone and everyone should be able to read it and understand your thoughts. Furthermore, using clichés shows that the student didn’t actually take the time to think about the prompt and answer the question from his or her own experience. The admissions committee will question if the information you include in your essay is exclusively your own thinking, or if you are borrowing

work from someone else.


  1. Maintain your tense

When writing an essay, students sometimes jump from the past tense to the present tense to the future tense, not realizing the havoc it wreaks on the reader’s mind. My advice to students is to pick a tense and stick with it throughout the essay. You do not want your admissions committee reader to be confused about when something happened. Don’t allow verb tense errors to take over your paper.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

Steps to Finding the Right College Major

Choosing electives in high school that more accurately align with your subject interests will help you find the right college major. If possible, it is best to choose a high school that offers the most electives in the subject areas that interest you. These electives will help you prepare for college by extending your critical thinking skills outside of your main academic courses and you may be able to take the electives at the college level for the major or minor that you choose. Some schools only offer a few electives such as band, art, study hall, teacher’s aid, or a foreign language while others offer electives in most subjects. By choosing electives such as communication skills, journalism, accounting, business law, creative writing, computer applications, graphic design, painting, drama/theatre, CPR training, first aid, nutrition, rhetoric, science courses, religion, social science, among others you will learn to apply what you have learned in related topics in your main courses to these practical subject areas.

Choosing an elective that is based on one of your strongest academic subjects is the best way to find out if choosing a college major in the subject is right for you. You will have to make the transition from mainly using rote- memorization in high school to application based learning on tests, papers, and other assignments. Finding an elective that helps you learn these critical thinking skills in high school will greatly help you in college. One way to choose an elective that best corresponds to your subject interests is to take the Myers-Briggs personality test and use it to find what subject matter connects to your personality type. Most students change their majors numerous times once they start college because they either did not spend enough time thinking about how to approach finding the right major before they started school. To avoid this, take time out of your schedule to talk to a guidance counselor, find electives that meet your subject interests and personality type, and do outside reading on your favorite subjects before starting college. Though most students do not take electives as seriously as their main courses, focusing on an elective that interests you may help you find a college major that you will finish school with a degree in.

Take a look at the link below:


About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.


More College Planning Updates…

In our last blog post we talked about the redesigned SAT which is on the way. Well for those 10th graders who are anxious and ready to start preparing, you can now check out a full practice PSAT! The College Board recently released the test and answer explanations that you can access at www.collegeboard.org/psatpractice. Although redesigned, the PSAT will continue to be the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test so rising juniors should invest some study time. Strong performance on this test can result in multiple scholarship opportunities so take advantage of this FREE resource and get started today!

Rising seniors have another important announcement to follow. The Common Application has released its revised essay prompts for the 2015-2016 application season. There are a total of 5 essays students can choose from to submit to the colleges of their choice. The Common Application is accepted at over 500 colleges and universities and has become a widely accepted admissions tool for students wishing to maximize their time. Summer is an awesome time to start drafting responses to some of these questions as current 11 graders prepare for the fall application season. This is also great practice for scholarship essays which will often times have similar writing prompts. Many students will avoid scholarship applications that require an essay(s); but taking the time to get a few prepared before the hustle and bustle of the ordinary demands of the school year can reduce the stress related with trying to multitask.

Now that you have an idea of some of the changes heading your way in the college admissions world take some time and come up with a strategy that works best for you. Just as important though is making sure you finish this semester on a solid note.

Don’t forget Academic Advantage Tutoring has College Planning services available to assist students prepare and stay on top of the busy and always changing college admissions world. Call today to find out how we can help!