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Brainstorming for the College Admissions Essay: What You Need to Know

This video explores one of applicants’ most common college essay concerns: "What on earth should I write about?" Whether you are worried that you have nothing to say (“What if I’m BORING?!”), or too much to cover (“Which of my bazillion accomplishments does admissions want to hear about most?!”), this video will help you take a flying leap into the college essay topic selection process, walking you through our favorite exercises and strategies for identifying your best stories including our signature Backwards Brainstorm and the Full Body Brainstorm.

Common App Essay Prompts

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Common Application Prompts: The Ultimate Breakdown

The Common Application's personal statement is often the deciding factor between candidates with similar test scores, grades, and extracurriculars: but what makes a candidate's college essay stand out? In this video, we walk you through the seven Common App prompts, explaining what each question is really asking and providing helpful tips on what admissions is really looking for in response.

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Writing about Your Background (Prompt 1)

The 2019-20 Common Application's essay prompt 1 asks you to write about your background or identity. But what is it REALLY asking? Get the lowdown from College Essay Advisors Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook. She’ll break this prompt down into its basic building blocks and offer some insider tips and strategies for picking the perfect topic.

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Writing about Setbacks and Failure (Prompt 2)

The second essay prompt of the 2019-20 Common Application asks you to talk about how you approach challenges, obstacles, and even (GASP!) failures. Watch now!

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Questioning a Belief or Idea (Prompt 3)

The third essay prompt of the 2019-20 Common Application asks you to open up about a time when your opinion was unpopular. How can you write a powerful essay without polarizing readers who disagree with you? It's tricky -- but totally possible! Get the inside scoop from College Essay Advisors Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook.

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Writing about Problem Solving (Prompt 4)

The 2019-20 Common Application's fourth essay prompt asks you to put your problem-solving skills on display. But how do you transform a conundrum into a compelling story? Get the lowdown from College Essay Advisors Founder and admissions expert, Stacey Brook. She’ll break this prompt down into its basic building blocks and offer some insider tricks and strategies for tackling prompt 4.

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Writing about Personal Growth (Prompt 5)

The fifth essay prompt of the 2019-20 Common Application asks you to talk about a moment of personal growth. But what does admissions really want to hear about? What counts as a period of personal growth? CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, gives you the lowdown on the Common App's fifth prompt in this video!

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Sharing Your Passions and Obsessions (Prompt 6)

The sixth essay prompt of the 2019-20 Common Application asks you to write about the driving force behind your intellectual curiosity. But how can you tap into your inner nerd without going overboard? Get the insider scoop from College Essay Advisors Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook.

Guide to the 2019-20 Common App Essays: Tackling the Topic of Your Choice (Prompt 7)

The seventh essay prompt of the 2019-20 Common Application is the legendary topic of your choice. If you're wondering whether you should choose to respond to this prompt or one of the other six, stay tuned. College Essay Advisors' Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to point you in the right direction and give you some valuable advice along the way.

Brainstorming

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How to Tell a Unique Story to Admissions

So you know the college essay is an important part of your application, but what can you really accomplish in 650 words? How do you pick a unique topic? Learn how to select the perfect story to tell admissions and make yourself memorable through the art of personal branding.

What is the Personal Statement?

Since more colleges see the Common App’s personal statement than any other individual essay, this component of the application is where you want to unleash your very best ideas. But what does a personal statement entail? And how do you write a successful one? This video will address those questions and more!

How Important is the College Essay?

Why does the college essay matter? And how can you use this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice to your maximum advantage? This video will explain it all. Spoiler alert: You need to be authentic and memorable!

Brainstorming for the College Admissions Essay: What You Need to Know

This video explores one of applicants’ most common college essay concerns: "What on earth should I write about?" Whether you are worried that you have nothing to say (“What if I’m BORING?!”), or too much to cover (“Which of my bazillion accomplishments does admissions want to hear about most?!”), this video will help you take a flying leap into the college essay topic selection process, walking you through our favorite exercises and strategies for identifying your best stories including our signature Backwards Brainstorm and the Full Body Brainstorm.

The Most Common Brainstorming Mistakes Writers Make

Brainstorming is HARD -- especially when it comes to brainstorming topics for college essays! This video will walk you though the most common brainstorming mistakes writers make, while illustrating how you can generate creative essay topics and ideas in a way that is fun, freeing, and fruitful.

What Admissions Officers Really Want from a College Essay

Know how long a college admissions officer spends reading your application? How about your essay? This video will lay out all the facts and stats you need to know about the secret lives of admissions officers. With this information in hand, you'll be better prepared to write the kind of essay admissions officers want to read. When it comes to college admissions, knowing your audience is everything.

Writing

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Freewriting, Topic Selection, and the First Draft

Freewriting is the key to an amazing college application essay - especially the first draft! Fill up you blank page (or text box) with these tips for getting started (and never stopping) on your way to personal statement success.

Freewriting 101: How to Freewrite for Your College Essay

Freewriting is, at its core, just as it sounds: the act of writing freely. It is the exercise of jotting down whatever comes to mind, without judgment or worrying about the final product. Because the college admissions essay holds so much weight, many students struggle with the 'no judgement' part. This video will show you how to put your inner critic aside and let the writing flow.

How do You Know When You’ve Found THE Winning Topic? [TAKE THE TEST]

How do you know when you've found THE topic? You know, the topic that will rule all other topics. The one that will make admissions officers laugh or cry...or both? Does your topic have what it takes to make you stand out from a sea of similarly qualified applicants? This video is here to help you put your topic to the test.

How to Begin the College Essay Writing Process

One of the hardest parts of writing the college application essay is getting started. Where is the best place to begin? What does admissions really want to hear from you? And how do you know if you’re moving in the right direction? We made this video full of helpful tips to help you break through your initial writing blocks and get you on the road to college essay success.

How To Outline Your Personal Statement

Extracting a killer college application essay from your notes, brainstorms, and freewrites may seem like a daunting task. You love your topic, but your ideas are scattered. That's why outlining is your friend.

The Trick to Writing an Amazing Opening Line

The personal statement is a crucial part of your college application, but it won't help you if it bores admissions officers to tears! Learn the do's and don'ts of how to write a powerful opening line that pulls your reader in from the very first word.

How To Write a Memorable Closing Line

Your personal statement should tell a memorable story that admissions officers just can't shake. Your closing line is your final shot to make a lasting impression before your college fate is sealed! The experts at College Essay Advisors have lined up their most essential tips for writing a killer closing line.

Storytelling

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Supplemental Essays 101

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How To Answer Supplemental Application Questions: “Why Do You Want To Go Here?”

These days, most colleges and universities require supplemental applications in addition to the Common Application. You could be looking at a list of 10+ supplemental essays, so we made you a quick guide to the most common supplemental question: "Why do you want to go here?"

Guide to the 2018-19 Northwestern University Supplemental Essay

Are you planning to apply to Northwestern University? The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into Northwestern's supplemental essay prompt so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

Guide to the 2018-19 University of Michigan Essays

Submitting your college application to the University of Michigan can be a real nail-biter. Michigan requires three supplemental essays. The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and the motivation behind them so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

How to Get Into UNC (With a Great Essay)

UNC is well-known for being the first public university in the United States and a leader in innovative teaching strategies. The school is also known for receiving many college applications, which means it is crucial for applicants to differentiate themselves in their essays. Luckily for UNC hopefuls, the university gives students two additional supplemental prompts to respond to in order to set themselves apart from the sea of similarly qualified applicants and increase their chances of getting into UNC. College Essay Advisors Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to break down the UNC supplemental prompts so you know which essays will showcase your best attributes!

Guide to the 2017-2018 Duke University Supplemental Essays

Submitting your college application to Duke University can be a real nail-biter. Although it's probably too late now to tweak your test scores or GPA, you can make sure that your college application essays will bring you admissions success! Duke requires one supplemental short answer and gives students the opportunity to respond to two optional prompts. The Founder and Chief Advisor of College Essay Advisors, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and the motivation behind them so you can take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice.

Guide to the 2017-2018 Harvard University Supplemental Essay

Harvard University is one of the most competitive schools in the country. Every year admissions officers are bombarded with applications from eager students looking to make the cut. Thus, Harvard has a supplement to give students an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the competition. Writing supplemental essays can be daunting, but luckily for you, College Essay Advisors founder (and admissions expert) Stacey Brook is here to break down the Harvard supplement so you can hit submit with confidence.

Dos and Don’ts

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The Most Common Mistakes Students Make in Their College Essays

The admissions essay is a crucial part of your college application because it is the only chance you have to communicate with admissions officers in your own voice. You need to take advantage of every word at your disposal and send the message that you’re the kind of student that colleges should want on their campus. Over our thirteen years of coaching students through the college essay process, we have identified the most common mistakes students make when writing their college essay. Don’t do these things!

Can You Write About Volunteering in Your College Essay?

Can you write about volunteering in your college admissions essay? Well, you shouldn’t write about a community-service initiative just because you think it’s what admissions wants to hear. Some essays about volunteer efforts inevitably come off as inauthentic (because they often are).

You Should Never Write This in Your College Essay

Here is a short and sweet tip from Team CEA: make sure you NEVER write this in your college essay. Keep watching to discover the ultimate college essay don't!

Most Common Essay Topic Mistakes

Before you decide on your final college application essay topic, check to make sure you haven't made any of these common mistakes.

How to Ask Your Parents for Help

As you zone in on the topic you want to write about in your college application essays, mine for the details that will bring your story to life. Approach this phase of writing the personal statement as an interview: what kinds of questions would other people ask? How would you answer them?

Coalition App Essay Prompts

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How to Answer the 2019-20 Coalition Application’s Prompt 5: Topic of Your Choice

For many students, this catch-all Coalition App prompt is a gift. Obviously, any essay you write will meet the requirement of this prompt, so if you have already begun brainstorming with the Common App topics in mind, fear not; this Coalition prompt has you covered. Keep watching for all of CEA's expert tips, tricks, and advice.

How to Answer the 2019-20 Coalition Application’s Prompt 4: Being a Teenager

Prompt #4 is the Coalition Application prompt that feels the newest and freshest. What are some major misconceptions people have about modern teenage life? Can you shed some light on these misunderstandings? What does it mean to be an adolescent in this day and age, with the tools you have at your disposal?

How to Answer the 2019-20 Coalition Application’s Prompt 3: Challenging Your Beliefs

A question about having your beliefs challenged demands a great deal of introspection off the bat—and this kind of disarming honesty can make an essay incredibly sincere and compelling. Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, walks you through the Coalition Application's third prompt in this video!

How to Answer the 2019-20 Coalition Application’s Prompt 2: “A Meaningful Contribution”

The Coalition Application's second prompt asks applicants to write about a time when they made a meaningful contribution to others. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through this prompt so that you can write an essay that WOWs admissions officers!

How to Answer the 2019-20 Coalition Application’s Prompt 1: A Story from Your Life

The 2019-20 Coalition Application essay prompts have been announced, which means you can start writing your personal statement right now! CEA Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to explain what the Coalition App's first prompt is REALLY asking and offer some tips and tricks for tackling your response.