Posts Tagged “seventeen’s guide to getting into college”

With the economy making it especially hard right now to afford college visits, College Week Live (the world’s largest online college fair) provides students the opportunity to virtually visit hundreds of colleges across the country and speak to admissions officers, college counselors, and experts in the areas of applying, paying for, and choosing the right school for you.  It’s totally free and a truly cost-effective way to learn more about your favorite schools or even discover some that weren’t initially on your radar.

It all starts next week, (March 25th and 26th), and yours truly will be doing a session on “Writing A Great College Essay” on Thursday, March 26th at 11am PST/2pm EST.  I’ll be answering your questions about what college admissions officers look for in essays, pitfalls to avoid, and tips for writing to stand-out. And everyone who logs in during my session will have a chance to win a copy of my book “Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.” You can register and view the full line-up of college and speakers at College Week Live.com.  Hope to see you there next week!

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That’s right!  It’s another chance to win a signed copy of my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College. Five lucky winners will be picked at random once the contest ends at 11:59pm EST on Friday, Dec. 5th.  For your chance to win visit Just Jared Jr., leave a comment on the contest page, and enter as many times as you wish!

Good luck! :)

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Gone are the days of simply relying on glossy college marketing materials to research a school.  Now it’s easier than ever to get the real scoop that can help you decide where to attend thanks to some awesome college sites that let users weigh in with their opinions and shout-outs for their schools.  They answer questions like…How happy are students on a college campus? Are professors really teaching classes and are they good teachers? What are the local campus hotspots? What are the dorms really like?

If you’re looking for some honest feedback on your favorite schools, then check out some of my favorite college review sites:

Yollege–This college review site launched earlier this year and was named one of the Best of the Web 2008 newcomers by BusinessWeek.  From the website, “Yollege is an exciting new student driven college review site that empowers college students across the nation to finally have a voice. Share your passionate thoughts and opinions on every aspect of your campus. From nightlife to dorm life, campus hotspots to local flavor, college life will never be the same.”

UnigoI blogged about this site in September after I read an article about Unigo in The New York Times Magazine-College Issue, and I’m still a huge fan.  Not only can you read reviews, see photos, and watch videos from current college students representing hundreds of schools across the country, but there is tons of information about applying to college written by Unigo’s editorial staff.  Overall, it’s a great starting point to launch your college search.

Seventeen’s College & Career–Of course, I have to give a shout-out to Seventeen’s College & Career hub which features Q&A from yours truly, but there are a lot of other awesome features like an internship finder, volunteer opportunity finder, and the Freshman 15 which features videos and blogs from current college students, as well as information about researching and applying to college (including tips from my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College!).

College Help From College ConfidentialCollege Confidential has been around for awhile, and it features hundreds of free articles on college admissions, college search, financial aid, and college book reviews, plus a leading college discussion forum (my favorite!). They also specialize in Ivy League college counseling.

Do you have a favorite college review site?  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

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Don’t forget to tune in to my webcast presentation on CollegeWeekLive this afternoon from 5pm-6pm (PST).  I’ll be talking about how to stand out in your college applications and then open it up for Q&A’s.  Registration is free, and anyone who tunes in to my talk will be eligible to win one of 5 signed copies of my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.  Hope to see you then!

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Next week I’ve been invited to speak at CollegeWeekLive, the world’s largest 2-day virtual college fair.  I’ll be giving a presentation on “Telling Your Story in the College Application,” giving tips on how to stand out in the admission process based on my experience working behind the scenes at Columbia University.  But the coolest part is that the bulk of the time I’ll be answering live questions from viewers all over the globe, and you can join in on the fun by registering on the CWL website.  Registration is totally free, and over the course of the 2-day event you’ll have the opportunity to speak with admission reps from over 200 colleges, sit in on sessions with college and financial aid experts, and hear from current students at universities across the country.

And, did I mention I’m giving away signed copies of my book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College?!  We’ll be doing a random drawing of all the registered users who attend my session on Thursday, November 13th at 5pm (PST)/ 8pm (EST), and 5 lucky winners will receive an autographed book.  So check it out, and be sure to stop by my session and submit a question during the live web broadcast.

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As an admissions officer at Columbia University, I read through thousands of college essays every year, and after awhile it became apparent that there were definitely some overused topics out there, ones that didn’t help a student stand out or subjects that just couldn’t be adequately addressed in 500 words or less.  So as you’re trying to put together that perfect college essay, here are some of my top picks to cross off your brainstorming list pulled from my new book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.

1. The time you built houses in Mexico with your youth group or visited Israel to explore your cultural heritage–While these are both wonderful ways to spend your vacation, volunteering or traveling abroad with a school or youth group has become a really common high school experience and the subject of many a college essay.  It’s better to mention these elsewhere in the application than risk an entire essay sounding the same as everybody else.

2. Your parent’s divorce–There are three reasons to avoid the divorce topic: it’s (unfortunately) common, it’s not necessarily about you, and it’s hard to do justice in the space provided.

3. A narrative version of your resume–It’s fine to go into greater detail or tell a story about something that you’ve already mentioned, but don’t use the valuable essay space just to repeat info you have already included elsewhere in the application.

4. The death of a relative–There’s no denying the dramatic impact that the loss of a loved one can have on you; it’s something that affects us all.  But because of that, it is a common essay topic and therefore harder to stand out, not to mention difficult to capture in 500 words or less.

5. Why a particular college is so great–Colleges know what makes them great, but they don’t know what it is that makes you so fabulous.  Some students make the mistake of writing a mini-research paper on the school instead of talking about themselves.  If the application specifically asks why you want to go to the school either as an essay or short answer, make sure you talk about who you are and why the school is a good fit for you.

For more college essay topics to avoid and tips for writing a stand-out essay, check out Chapter 5 in Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College!

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Q: Why is it necessary to write essays to get into some colleges and universities?

–Sarah, 17, Calabasas, CA

A: Believe it or not, colleges are actually interested in more than just academic grades and test scores. They want to know how you think and what you have to say, and one of the best means of getting your voice heard is through the college essay.

The reason many schools ask for an essay is to give you a chance to showcase your personality, creativity, and unique sensibility that might not be captured elsewhere in the application. This is your chance to shine and speak your mind, and the cool thing about the essay is that there are no wrong answers! It’s really an opportunity to take control of one aspect of the college application and leave a great impression on the admission office.

An awesome essay can be the tipping point that pushes a good application into the acceptance bin, so take some time to think about what you’re going to say and how you say it. And don’t forget to proofread! A stellar essay can be totally ruined if it’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Have someone else that you trust look it over to make sure it’s absolutely perfect.

For my top ten essay topics to avoid, check out the chapter “Writing Your Story” in my new book Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.

So, what do you think you’re going to write about for your college essay?

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