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The Killer Essay

The One and Only Essay Question in the Universe: "Tell Us About Yourself"

College Application Essay Help

No matter which prompt you choose to write about, you are the main subject. This is your chance to distinguish yourself from others and connect on a personal level with your admissions officer.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay. You do need to reveal who you are, how you think and what you value. This is what admissions officers are looking for behind the GPAs and standardized test scores. 

So avoid those bland, generic yawners like, “What I learned when I.....”, “How my hard work and discipline paid off...” or “These are a few of my favorite things.” Write about something you really know and care about, no matter how small or quirky it may seem.

Here are a Few Tips:

Keep It Real
Do not try to impress your reader with big words or fancy phrases. Use your own voice, the one you would use in a conversation, or when you're telling a story to someone over coffee. Write like you talk, without the umms or grammatical errors. Remember, many of your admissions readers aren't much older than you are!

Spice It Up
Always use specific examples, bits of dialogue, colorful adjectives and active verbs. Your challenge is to keep your over-worked, bleary-eyed reader AWAKE.

No Robert Frost!
Avoid clichés and famous quotations: If two roads diverge in your essay, grab a red pen.

Tell Them Something New
Don’t repeat anything that has been covered in the rest of your application, unless you have an unexpectedly provoking new angle on that topic.

Don't Rush It
Creating a Killer Essay is a gradual process that involves many rewrites. Take short breaks to save your sanity. As you begin to write your college essays, check out The Process in 10 Steps.

Stuck? Need Help? Need a push in the "write" direction? Ask Susan...

What Students Say About Susan...

"Susan not only helped me to write the best personal essays I could, but also taught me how to express myself in clear, concise and persuasive prose. What I learned from her helped me get into college and allowed me to flourish there. In fact, Susan's emphasis on brainstorming, free-writing, rewriting, and self-editing have become the cornerstones of my own writing process, which has served me well professionally and personally. Susan is a teacher and mentor of unparalleled wisdom and skill. She is my personal guru, and I sing her praises to the heavens daily. I cannot recommend her highly enough. If you ever have the chance to work with Susan, grab it!" ~ Jonathan, Yale Class of 2002

Ready, Aim, Fire!

college preparation search help

It's time to start your college search. But not so fast. Do a little research first. Check out informative college websites, take an online tour, read reliable college guide books and get feedback from friends who are already in college. Deciding where you will fit in and thrive for four years to come is a journey with many detours. So don't rush it. Give yourself plenty of time to get lost, change directions or stop and refuel.


Try It On First

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How do you know where you want to go to college? What do you do to find out? The answer is found through personal experience. Visit a variety of local colleges and universities. You need to hang out at a sprawling state university, sit in on a seminar at a small liberal arts college, check out an 8'x10' dorm room, and eavesdrop on students in the dining hall. After doing this personal research, you'll be surprised at what fits, and what doesn't.


Highlight Your Passion

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Colleges want a renaissance class made up of all types of students. What is your special talent? What sets you apart? Everyone has something they are passionate about, whether it’s quirky, off-the-beaten-path or more mainstream. Your individual passion is the thing that sets you apart from other college applicants and will ultimately round out a diverse class. Susan's specialty is to draw out your uniqueness and show you how to successfully communicate “who you are.”


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