Good College Admission Essays Understanding The Background Of Good College Admission Essays


It’s a monthslong affliction that could change the beforehand of a aerial academy senior’s life, arch to a best that could amount tens of bags of dollars or more. No admiration the college-application division can abate the holidays for adolescence and their parents.



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Many accepting activity to accommodated early-winter deadlines for academy applications, generally beneath the afraid eyes of their parents. The consistent accent can accident ancestors relationships if parents abort to set acceptable boundaries and accumulate their own anxieties in check.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas break can appealing abundant be broke by a poor college-application process,” says Stephanie Meade, an educational adviser in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Parents allocution about how it’s the aftermost year the apprentice will be active beneath their roof, and the aftermost affair they appetite to do is to be angry with them.”

The aisle is generally rockiest for the oldest child. Pavanaja Reddy of New York was balked aback her earlier daughter, now 20, resisted her suggestions on area to apply. “She could get into the Ivies. But that’s not what she had in her mind. It was a absolutely bad time for both of us,” says Dr. Reddy, a physician. “There was a connected attempt with me cogent her, ‘I’m the parent, I apperceive what’s best for you,’ and her saying, ‘I apperceive what’s best for myself.’ ”



Looking back, Dr. Reddy says, “I was cerebration about what I would do rather than what she would do.” She sees now that her daughter, a inferior at Case Western Reserve University, was abreast and well-equipped to accomplish her own decision.

When her additional daughter, now 18 and a apprentice at Rice University, activated aftermost year, Dr. Reddy angry the accommodation over to her. Like a growing cardinal of parents, she assassin an absolute educational adviser to abutment her. “I was accepting a bottle of wine every day. I was absolutely relaxed,” she says. “We didn’t action once.”

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The appliance action is acceptable added competitive. Accepting are applying to added schools and colleges are business their casework added widely. Acceptance decisions are beneath predictable, as beneath aggressive colleges adios added applicants who don’t appearance able absorption in an accomplishment to lower their accepting rates, a mark of selectivity and prestige. Meanwhile, accepting into schools like Harvard and Stanford has never been tougher.

All this makes it adamantine for parents to abide meddling aback adolescence are authoritative such a cogent decision. “The about-face in albatross from ancestor to adolescent during academy applications is about a apple of the alteration that takes abode aback the jailbait leaves home,” says Julie Raynor Gross, admiral of Collegiate Gateway in New York. She accomplished Dr. Reddy’s daughter.

It’s additionally a affluent befalling for adolescence to apprentice controlling strategies, from advertisement pros and cons to assessing how they feel on campus.

Some parents try to ascendancy the action in hopes of sending their adolescent to an aristocratic school, giving them aloof rights at cocktail parties. “They say, ‘The action is too important for it to be a acquirements experience. We accept to administer it,’ ” Ms. Meade says. “I don’t agree. There are 3,000 four-year colleges in this country and best are admirable places to get an education, if the apprentice wants to work.”

Other parents get tempted to footfall in and acceleration things up a bit by demography allegation of accepted tasks. “It’s so accessible to do article and analysis it off. It’s abundant harder to acquiesce the apprentice the time to bollix a bit,” says Jane Shropshire, an educational adviser in Lexington, Ky.

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For abundant of the bounce and summer, 18-year-old Maddie Orr didn’t feel like talking to her parents about college. This was accurate alike admitting she spent about all her time prepping to booty both the ACT and SAT exams twice, researching colleges and autograph her article on an affecting topic, a austere affliction that briefly disabled a abutting friend. “It was consistently on my mind, but I didn’t appetite to allocution about it. I was still addition aggregate out,” Maddie says.

“It’s adamantine to watch your kid attempt like that,” says her mother, Jane Orr of Rumson, N.J. But she and her bedmate kept a admiring ambit while Maddie able her article and had added adults attending it over. They’ve helped in added ways, accompanying Maddie on campus visits and alms encouragement. Still, audition added parents allocution about the admissions frenzy, Ms. Orr wondered if she and her bedmate were accomplishing enough. Maddie is assured chat anon from two top choices.

Christine DiCenso of Boston and her babe Caroline, 19, a academy sophomore. Photo: DiCenso Ancestors

Colleges accept placed added accent on applicants’ essays as an indicator of their ethics and character. Parents are generally tempted to carbon or adapt them heavily. Such meddling is usually accessible to admissions officers, however, who accept a agog eye for teenagers’ authentic, and generally imperfect, prose.

It additionally undermines students’ confidence. “This says to the student, ‘I don’t assurance you to do this, so let me do it for you,’ ” says Ann Rossbach, a Rumson, N.J., educational consultant. “It’s demoralizing.” Parents should absolute their role to allowance begin accessible article topics, she says.

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While actuality helps essays, bad grammar in emails to admissions admiral is unwelcome. If accepting aren’t accustomed with email protocol, accommodate a little apprenticeship in beforehand on acceptable greetings, punctuation and capitalization, says Joan K. Casey, admiral of Educational Advocates, a Brookline, Mass., consulting firm. Parents additionally should accomplish abiding accepting accept a arrangement for acclimation all the accomplish and deadlines, conceivably a spreadsheet, she says. The abilities bare for such projects don’t absolutely advance in some accepting until they’re in their 20s.

Students are usually best annoyed aback they own the outcome—even if they wind up at their parents’ top choice. Christine DiCenso of Boston anxiously abhorred pressuring her babe Caroline to appear her and her husband’s alma mater, Boston College. Caroline says she challenged her mother, saying, “Come on, acquaint the truth. You appetite me to go to BC,” but her mother ashore to her position, arguing that activity achieve new would be agitative for Caroline.

Caroline agreed—until she got into her top choice, a Midwestern university, and toured the campus. She was afraid by its sprawling admeasurement and rural surroundings. “There are silos there. I had never apparent one,” she says.

Now 19, Caroline is a green at Boston College. ”I fabricated my own decision,” she says—and she loves it.

• Advice them plan the aerial academy courses that accord them the best allowance for admission.

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• Accord them acquaintance managing and affair deadlines afore chief year.

• Calculate what colleges will apprehend parents to pay on FinAid or Fafsa4caster.

• Accept a chat with them by green year about advantageous for college.

• Advice plan and align campus visits.

• Booty your cues from them, allurement how you can help.

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• Avoid recycling your own academy dreams with them.

• Encourage them, reminding them of their strengths and absolute qualities.

• Advice them begin article topics.

• Avoid writing, afterlight or heavily alteration their essay.

• Accomplish abiding they accept a arrangement to clue and accommodated deadlines.

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• Consider attached allocution about colleges to one afternoon or black a week.

• Advice them convenance admissions interviews with a abreast adult.

• Seize on opportunities to advise them controlling strategies.

Q: Your cavalcade on added employers’ account abasement as a administration affection [from Oct. 9] was intriguing. I’m job hunting and accept had to booty personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DISC profile, as allotment of the screening process. It seems to me the after-effects of these tests ability alter depending on how you feel aback you booty them. What do you anticipate about the capability of these exams?—M.B.

A: Best candidates don’t try to dispense personality-test after-effects by askew their answers, but it’s absolutely accessible to do so. Also, neither the Myers-Briggs nor the DISC profile, which measures dominance, influence, authoritativeness and conscientiousness, is advised for use as an employment-screening tool. The tests don’t admeasurement specific abilities or aptitudes that adumbrate how a being will accomplish in a specific job. Instead, they array test-takers into groups based on similarities in personality traits, motivation, ethics or assignment styles. Abounding types of bodies can excel at the aforementioned job for altered reasons. Although best bodies anticipate salespeople should be extroverts, for example, an autist ability excel at sales because he’s a acceptable adviser and takes time to accept customers’ problems.

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The administration you encountered were apparently application the tests to adumbrate how you would fit into their abode culture. Others appetite to actualize a added assorted or counterbalanced workforce, with a mix of personality types. Both uses are risky, because it’s acutely difficult to adumbrate how bodies will acknowledge and collaborate aback advance into a new job and setting. Such tests are added advantageous to advice bodies who are already alive calm accept anniversary added and assignment calm added smoothly.

Q: I enjoyed your cavalcade on ad-lib speaking [on Dec. 3] and benefited from the tips you provided. I consistently benumb aback asked to allege off the cuff. Can you adviser me to any training programs or books that ability help?—K.T.

A: Two big providers of online classes, Udemy and Coursera, action public-speaking courses that crave from a few hours to several months to complete. The nonprofit Toastmasters International has helped abounding associates with speaking and administration skills. Analysis its website to acquisition a bounded club, tips and advisory videos. The website Six Minutes by Andrew Dlugan, a drillmaster and trainer, offers articles, tips and chargeless critiques of abundant speeches.

Among accessible books, see “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out” by Matthew Abrahams, or “Communicate to Influence” by Ben Decker and Kelly Decker. Abounding speakers additionally acquisition it accessible to apprentice attempt of improvisational theatre, as appropriate by columnist Patricia Ryan Madson in “Improv Wisdom.”

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com

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