Just when the four appplicants are denied an interview with the ''Adviser of Odds'' (the Wizard), the ''Good Babe of the West Coast'' (the Good Witch of the West) appears.
'' 'Chill out,' she said. 'Scarecrow, you won't need brains if you take an S.A.T. prep course. Sterling, don't worry; hearts hardly count. Dandelion, you are unlikely to work no matter where you go, but you would not be alone at Harvard. And now you Dorothy. All along you have had the ivy slippers. Nothing can stand in your way. You are going to Brown.' '' And Dorothy (Mr. Cooper) did. A One-Act Musical
Among the ''Offbeat Essays,'' Matt Weingarden, a Yale applicant, wrote a one-act musical in which he plays himself. His best friend is named Sponge and a chorus comments on Matt's description of why he wants Yale and why Yale should want him. To the tune of ''When Johnny Comes Marching Home,'' the chorus sings: ''Oh, Matt is applying to Yale on his knees, Accept! Accept! Academically, socially, artistically, he's Adept! Adept! With his sharp sense of humor he knocks us all out, He is the candidate we highly tout And our song may be stale But Matt ought to get into Yale.
One admissions officer, Dan Lundquist of the University of Pennsylvania, cautions that ''witty'' essays often fall flat and that admissions officers view them as ''inappropriate or even obnoxious.''
Besides giving words of caution and examples of what worked, the book also offers concrete suggestions about writing admissions essays: Give yourself time to think of your essay; write a time-line of your life, noting important events; discuss essay topics with friends, parents, teachers; make sure you answer the question appropriately; let your essay sit for a while; check the spelling, grammar and punctuation, and check it for wordiness.
What essay works best? ''Honesty, brevity, risk-taking, self-revelation, imaginativeness and fine writing,'' says one admissions officer. ''If a student reads his application before mailing it and can say 'this sounds like me,' then he's probably written the best essay possible.''Continue reading the main story
The college admissions essay is a part of the application process that often gives students the most anxiety. In the essay, applicants work hard to really let the admissions counselors get to know them beyond their test scores and grades. After writing what they feel is a nearly perfect essay the student finds out that their 800-word essay is longer than the 500-word maximum allowed.
According to the New York Times article, “College Application Essay as Haiku? For Some, 500 Words Aren’t Enough,” students fret over the idea of having to chop all of the emotion and substance from their essays in order to stay within the word count.
Here are 5 easy tips to help you get the word count down on your admissions essay and still make a great first impression.
1. Free write — Without censoring yourself, write the first draft of your essay. If it goes on for 1,000 words, that’s fine. The goal here is to write down everything you want to say. It is better to have a lot of words to chop, rearrange, or rewrite than to be staring at a blank page with an application deadline looming.
2. Read Aloud — Read what you have written out loud. This may feel a little bit silly at first, but it works. When you read aloud you are able to hear when sentences do not make sense, are run-ons, or are just plain bad. You want to read your essay aloud a few times. The first time you read just to get a feel of what is working and what is not. The second time, go through and mark places that need to be edited.
3. Rewrite — Go back to the sections you marked for editing. Break up run-on sentences. Either make two new sentences, or see if you can say the same thing in a simpler way. Be sure to vary sentence length using longer and shorter sentences. An essay full of all short sentences will sound choppy and elementary.
4. Move Forward — Remove all words, sentences, and paragraphs that do not add to the story you are telling, or move it forward. Just because your limit is 500 words doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong introduction, body, and conclusion. Be sure that you are using strong active verbs. For example:
Passive: Mom was cooking.
Active: Mom cooked.
Passive: We were jumping rope.
Active: We jumped rope.
Passive: Dad was laughing.
Active: Dad laughed.
Removing unnecessary words:
Wordy: Mr. Smith, who was my doctor, said that I needed surgery.
Better: My doctor said that I needed surgery.
Wordy: The thing that I am most proud of from my high school career is my participation in the debate team.
Better: I am most proud of participating in the debate team.
5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread — After you are done rewriting your essay, read it aloud again slowly. Look out for any misspelled words, missing words, problems with punctuation, or the use of one word when you really mean to use another one such as: their, there, and they’re. What you say in your college admissions essay is important, but how you say it may be even more so.
Writing a polished 500-word essay does not have to be difficult, or leave you feeling like you didn’t have the space to shine. Follow these tips and a 500-word admissions essay limit should be no problem.
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