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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.

Latest Videos

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CEA’s Guide to Private School Admissions Essays (for Parents and Students!)

CEA’s Guide to Private School Admissions Essays (for Parents and Students!)

Most private school applications include essay questions that are meant to gauge a student’s fit with the school. Admissions is hoping to understand an applicant’s goals and attributes from the perspective of both the student and their parent/guardian. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, welcomes you to the world of private school admissions and provides you with insight as to what your family can expect.

How to Write a Distinct Parent Statement for Private School Applications

How to Write a Distinct Parent Statement for Private School Applications

Many private schools ask parents to be involved in the application process through an essay frequently referred to as the "parent statement". This statement is an opportunity for you to introduce your child to admissions; to give them a glimpse of who your child is and why they would be a great fit for the institution in question. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through the three (3) objectives every successful parent statement should address.

How to Write a Business School Application Essay

How to Write a Business School Application Essay

People enter business school at many different times in their lives. Some folks apply straight out of college, while others apply after gaining some real-world experience. No matter what your particular situation or interest in these programs is, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to show you all the ins and outs of writing a winning Business School application essay.

4 Types of Essay Prompts to Expect from Military Academy Applications

4 Types of Essay Prompts to Expect from Military Academy Applications

Whether you’re applying to the United States Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, or West Point Military Academy, you can anticipate penning responses to these four types of essay prompts. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through the four most common Military application essay categories!

How to Respond to College Essay Prompts About Diversity and Inclusivity

How to Respond to College Essay Prompts About Diversity and Inclusivity

Many colleges and universities have started asking applicants to respond to prompts that ask them about their experiences with diversity, inclusion, and equity. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through the popular new supplemental essay prompt.

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Gratitude (Prompt 4)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Gratitude (Prompt 4)

The 2021-22 Common Application's fourth essay prompt (full text below) asks you to reflect on a time in your life when you have felt thankful. But how do you flip the script and talk about what others have done for you, instead of what you've done for others, in a meaningful way? 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 tricks and strategies for drafting your response.

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

When it comes to writing a successful statement of purpose for graduate school, telling a personal story about your goals and ambitions is key. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, answers frequently asked questions, provides viewers with brainstorming launch pads, and offers insight as to what grad school admissions officers are looking for.

CEA’s Common App TRANSFER Tutorial!

CEA’s Common App TRANSFER Tutorial!

Transfer applicants, beware! The Common App Transfer Application portal has its own unique look. It can be confusing to familiarize yourself with a brand new platform, so we made this helpful tutorial to show you around! Learn how to add programs, track application fees and deadlines, search for hidden essays, and submit!

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Southern California (USC) Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Southern California (USC) Essays | CEA

So, we just have to say it: the USC application is kind of all over the place! You’ll be asked about everything from your academic interests to your life's theme song, so make sure to tighten the straps on your brainstorming helmet. Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to show you how to use every essay as an opportunity to showcase something different about yourself!

Guide to the 2020-21 University of California Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 University of California Essays | CEA

For the UC application, the rules may be unfamiliar but the game is the same: tell admissions something they don’t know, and then do it three more times! A strategic applicant will choose an amalgam of prompts that highlight vastly different aspects of their life and personality, leaving an admissions officer with a deep and complete picture of who they are. Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to help you avoid getting hung up on trying to find the questions admissions "wants" you to answer -- with each essay, your goal isn’t just to answer the question, but to tell a very short story about yourself!

Common App Essay Prompts

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Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Gratitude (Prompt 4)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Gratitude (Prompt 4)

The 2021-22 Common Application's fourth essay prompt (full text below) asks you to reflect on a time in your life when you have felt thankful. But how do you flip the script and talk about what others have done for you, instead of what you've done for others, in a meaningful way? 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 tricks and strategies for drafting your response.

Common Application Prompts: The Ultimate Breakdown

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 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Your Background (Prompt 1)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Your Background (Prompt 1)

The 2021-22 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 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Setbacks and Failure (Prompt 2)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Setbacks and Failure (Prompt 2)

The second essay prompt of the 2021-22 Common Application asks you to talk about how you approach challenges, obstacles, and even (GASP!) failures. Watch now!

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Questioning a Belief or Idea (Prompt 3)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Questioning a Belief or Idea (Prompt 3)

The third essay prompt of the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Personal Growth (Prompt 5)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Writing about Personal Growth (Prompt 5)

The fifth essay prompt of the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Common App Essays: Sharing Your Passions and Obsessions (Prompt 6)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Sharing Your Passions and Obsessions (Prompt 6)

The sixth essay prompt of the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Common App Essays: Tackling the Topic of Your Choice (Prompt 7)

Guide to the 2021-22 Common App Essays: Tackling the Topic of Your Choice (Prompt 7)

The seventh essay prompt of the 2021-22 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.

COVID-19 Series

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What’s the New COVID-19 Prompt Really Asking?

What’s the New COVID-19 Prompt Really Asking?

Answering a brand-new Common App prompt can be a daunting task, especially when it asks you to discuss your experiences with COVID-19. If you're having trouble determining exactly what this prompt is asking of you, CEA Founder & Chief Advisor Stacey Brook is here to help!

Should You Write About COVID-19 In Your College Admissions Essay?

Should You Write About COVID-19 In Your College Admissions Essay?

With the new COVID-19 optional prompt on the Common App, many students are wondering whether they should address their coronavirus experience in their personal statements. CEA's Founder & Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to tell you everything you need to know about writing your personal statement in the time of COVID-19.

How to Navigate The College Admissions Process Amidst the Coronavirus Crisis

How to Navigate The College Admissions Process Amidst the Coronavirus Crisis

CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is sharing her top tips and tricks to help prospective college freshmen navigate the 2020-21 college admissions process amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

How to Get Started On Your Colleges Admissions Essay Right Now

How to Get Started On Your Colleges Admissions Essay Right Now

If you're feeling a lack of motivation when it comes to starting your college essay, you're not alone. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to help you find the inspiration and focus needed to write a compelling college essay (amidst the coronavirus pandemic).

What to Do if Your Summer Internship or Program Was Canceled Due to COVID-19

What to Do if Your Summer Internship or Program Was Canceled Due to COVID-19

We're sending (virtual) hugs to all high school juniors, high school seniors, and college students whose lives have all been flipped upside down as a result of the coronavirus crisis. In this video, our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, shares several key pieces of advice to help you plan your next steps accordingly.

How to Decide Which College or University to Attend (Amid the COVID-19 Crisis)

How to Decide Which College or University to Attend (Amid the COVID-19 Crisis)

Deciding where you want to spend the next four years of your life is always a difficult decision, but this year, choosing a college or university at which to study is especially complicated in light of recent events. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to help you make your decision.

Brainstorming

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How to Tell a Unique Story to Admissions

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?

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?

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

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

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

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.

College Essay Examples

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Is your College Essay Cliché?

Is your College Essay Cliché?

Applicants often choose to write about cliché subjects because they THINK the resulting essays present the kinds stories admissions officers want to read. To the contrary, jumping on an essay cliché bandwagon can make it nearly impossible for an admissions officer to distinguish you from your closest competition. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor presents The Cliché Quiz.

Writing

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School

When it comes to writing a successful statement of purpose for graduate school, telling a personal story about your goals and ambitions is key. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, answers frequently asked questions, provides viewers with brainstorming launch pads, and offers insight as to what grad school admissions officers are looking for.

Are “Optional” College Essay Prompts Really Optional?

Are “Optional” College Essay Prompts Really Optional?

Every year, colleges and universities around the world offer applicants the opportunity to respond to "optional" supplemental essay questions...But are these prompts truly optional? CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, lets you in on a college admissions secret.

Can A Great College Essay Get You Into College?

Can A Great College Essay Get You Into College?

We've heard this question time and time again, "Can a great college essay get me into college?" There are many factors that go into an admission officer's decision to accept, defer, waitlist, or reject an applicant. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to answer the question once and for all!

How to Create a Winning Activity Resume (for College Applications!)

How to Create a Winning Activity Resume (for College Applications!)

Many schools will ask you for an “activity resume,” and the Coalition and Common Application have separate sections specifically for activities and extracurriculars, so it’s really easy to overthink this piece of the application. If you’ve never written a resume before, getting started can be incredibly daunting, but don't worry -- CEA is here to help!

Unpopular Opinion: What to do When You’re Waitlisted

Unpopular Opinion: What to do When You’re Waitlisted

In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, offers her (unpopular) opinion as to what students should do when waitlisted at their top college or university.

How to Get Off the Waitlist (at your Dream School)!

How to Get Off the Waitlist (at your Dream School)!

Waiting is tough, and it can feel like forever when it comes to college admissions. If you were waitlisted, don't panic; you are not alone. The good news is that you can do something about it. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to tell you everything you need to know about getting off the waitlist (and into the college of your dreams)!

Is your College Essay Cliché?

Is your College Essay Cliché?

Applicants often choose to write about cliché subjects because they THINK the resulting essays present the kinds stories admissions officers want to read. To the contrary, jumping on an essay cliché bandwagon can make it nearly impossible for an admissions officer to distinguish you from your closest competition. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor presents The Cliché Quiz.

How to Write a Great Transfer Essay

How to Write a Great Transfer Essay

The transfer essay presents new hurdles that differ from those of the standard freshman personal statement. There are three key steps you must take to master the transfer essay. Luckily for you, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to tell you everything you need to know in order to write a fantastic transfer application essay!

Freewriting, Topic Selection, and the First Draft

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 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 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

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

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 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

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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Is your College Essay Cliché?

Is your College Essay Cliché?

Applicants often choose to write about cliché subjects because they THINK the resulting essays present the kinds stories admissions officers want to read. To the contrary, jumping on an essay cliché bandwagon can make it nearly impossible for an admissions officer to distinguish you from your closest competition. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor presents The Cliché Quiz.

Editing

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Supplemental Essays 101

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4 Types of Essay Prompts to Expect from Military Academy Applications

4 Types of Essay Prompts to Expect from Military Academy Applications

Whether you’re applying to the United States Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, or West Point Military Academy, you can anticipate penning responses to these four types of essay prompts. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through the four most common Military application essay categories!

How to Respond to College Essay Prompts About Diversity and Inclusivity

How to Respond to College Essay Prompts About Diversity and Inclusivity

Many colleges and universities have started asking applicants to respond to prompts that ask them about their experiences with diversity, inclusion, and equity. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through the popular new supplemental essay prompt.

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Southern California (USC) Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Southern California (USC) Essays | CEA

So, we just have to say it: the USC application is kind of all over the place! You’ll be asked about everything from your academic interests to your life's theme song, so make sure to tighten the straps on your brainstorming helmet. Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to show you how to use every essay as an opportunity to showcase something different about yourself!

Guide to the 2020-21 University of California Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 University of California Essays | CEA

For the UC application, the rules may be unfamiliar but the game is the same: tell admissions something they don’t know, and then do it three more times! A strategic applicant will choose an amalgam of prompts that highlight vastly different aspects of their life and personality, leaving an admissions officer with a deep and complete picture of who they are. Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to help you avoid getting hung up on trying to find the questions admissions "wants" you to answer -- with each essay, your goal isn’t just to answer the question, but to tell a very short story about yourself!

Guide to the 2020-21 Georgetown University Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 Georgetown University Essays | CEA

Since it's not on the Common App, Georgetown requires some extra special attention when it comes to its supplemental essay requirements! Luckily, our Founder and Chief Advisor Stacey Brook is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and discuss the motivation behind them. Take advantage of this opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice!

Guide to the 2020-21 Harvard University Supplemental Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 Harvard University Supplemental Essays | CEA

Harvard University is one of the most competitive schools in the country, and every year admissions officers are faced with countless applications from eager students looking to make the cut. As a result, Harvard's supplemental essay prompts are diverse and complex, to allow students an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their peers. If you're feeling overwhelmed, fear not! CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to break down the Harvard essays so you can hit submit with confidence.

Guide to the 2020-21 Stanford University Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 Stanford University Essays | CEA

The Stanford University application is nothing short of a doozie -- no less than EIGHT essays of varying lengths for students to answer and submit! To help you tackle this beast, our Founder and Chief Advisor Stacey Brook has created this video guide to walk you through each of the prompts, and give you the tips and tricks you need to make an impression on admissions.

Guide to the 2020-21 Boston University Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 Boston University Essays | CEA

The Boston University essay requirements are a gift to students: two of the most straightforward prompts you could ask for, and only one of them is required! Of course, our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, doesn't believe that any essay is truly optional, so make sure you're taking advantage of every opportunity you have to speak to admissions in your own voice. Plan ahead, pay attention to the questions, and above all don't wait until the last minute to start your work!

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Michigan Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 University of Michigan Essays | CEA

We know that submitting your application to the University of Michigan can cause some serious stress. Thankfully, this year Michigan only requires two supplemental essays instead of three! Our Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to give you invaluable insight into the prompts and provide you with tips and tricks to help you showcase yourself to admissions using your own unique voice.

Guide to the 2020-21 New York University Supplemental Essay | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 New York University Supplemental Essay | CEA

New York University (NYU) asks undergraduate applicants to write one supplemental essay (prompt in description below) on top of their Common App personal statement. CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to tell you everything you need to know in order to craft a winning response!

Guide to the 2020-21 Brown University Supplemental Essays | CEA

Guide to the 2020-21 Brown University Supplemental Essays | CEA

Applying to an Ivy League institution, such as Brown University, can be incredibly stressful! Luckily for you, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, is here to walk you through Brown's four (4) supplemental essay prompts.

Are “Optional” College Essay Prompts Really Optional?

Are “Optional” College Essay Prompts Really Optional?

Every year, colleges and universities around the world offer applicants the opportunity to respond to "optional" supplemental essay questions...But are these prompts truly optional? CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor, Stacey Brook, lets you in on a college admissions secret.

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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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Is your College Essay Cliché?

Is your College Essay Cliché?

Applicants often choose to write about cliché subjects because they THINK the resulting essays present the kinds stories admissions officers want to read. To the contrary, jumping on an essay cliché bandwagon can make it nearly impossible for an admissions officer to distinguish you from your closest competition. In this video, CEA's Founder and Chief Advisor presents The Cliché Quiz.

The Most Common Mistakes Students Make in Their College Essays

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 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

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

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

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 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 5: Topic of Your Choice

How to Answer the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 4: Being a Teenager

How to Answer the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 3: Challenging Your Beliefs

How to Answer the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 2: “A Meaningful Contribution”

How to Answer the 2021-22 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 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 1: A Story from Your Life

How to Answer the 2021-22 Coalition Application’s Prompt 1: A Story from Your Life

The 2021-22 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.