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APPLICATION AND SCHOLARSHIP ESSAYS The essays you write can make or break your application. When writing them, keep in mind that the readers and reviewers have probably already gone through hundreds of applications. A lot of essays are similar – they have to be because the application asks you to address a single question or topic. What you do to your essay and the approach you take on the issue is what will give you an edge. Make it interesting, creative, and realistic. A good ideal is to start writing essays now so that when the actual applying time arrives you will have a couple of very good pieces. Common Essay Prompts

 • Personal history – this can be recounting of your life or an essay about any specific aspect of your life that you feel is important. In fact this should be a creative statement that expresses YOU creatively and uniquely. It is an autobiography written in narrative style that includes your educational goals and a plan for attaining those goals. Avoid making a list. For example, if you know that you want to become a doctor there are certain formal steps that you will need to complete. In this essay you should relate a personal reason for choosing the path that you are writing about. For example, if you choose to attend the Berkeley Law School you should elaborate on why you are intent on this particular school.

• Career goals – this essay should discuss the aspects of a particular career that you find intriguing. You should discuss why you are attracted to a particular career and also show that you know something about the career you are interested in.

• Obstacle overcome – this is a great essay start to your portfolio. However, be careful to write about an obstacle that you have worked around, or overcome. For example, if you moved to a new school in 8th grade against your will, lost your spot on the winning basketball team, left all your friends behind, and found this a horrible obstacle; yet, through hard work and perseverance and deliberate effort you overcame this trial and became the star player on your new school’s team. This could be a great experience for you to write about! Your essay does not have to be about anything this dramatic however. You do not have to overcome blindness, or a crippling infant disease. You just need to show how you challenged yourself to overcome a difficulty in your life.

 • A person who has greatly influenced your life – This essay should tell a story about someone in your life who you feel really affected your life; someone who might have given you the courage to try something you were afraid to attempt; maybe a teacher who inspired you. The person should be someone who at a critical junction in your life helped you to choose one path over another, or helped develop the person you are today.

 • Drawing upon some personal experience (Write a Fable) – This is by definition a very creative essay. You must base your fable on fact and weave it into a creative and interesting tale.

• If you could change something in your life, what would it be and why? – This essay can also be quite creative and interesting to produce. Before writing this essay you need to really know yourself. Look at your timeline and see if there are any crossroads where you made decisions. What would it have been like to choose a different path? Alternatively, you can be really creative and change your sex, your species, your looks, your family, or your historical placement in time.

 • Describe the three hours of the day that are most important to you – Again, this essay is looking to learn more about you, the real person. Analyze who you are. What information could you tell the admissions people that they won’t find on your transcript? Are you a morning person? A stay-awake-at-night kind of person? Do you like to snuggle up with a book every morning? Expand their vision of who you are. Things to Avoid

•The trip “broadened my horizons,” gave me a new perspective on my native land, increased my fluency and facility to speak a foreign language.

•My favorite things – a list.

•Front-page issues are usually plagiaristic and generic. Don’t just repeat ideas of parents, teachers, or others. Speak from your heart.

•Through sports I have learned to set goals, to go all out, work with people. This approach is too often used.

•My room.

•The three D’s – discipline, diversity, and determination. Boring. •Pet Death – “as I watched Fluffy’s life force ebb away, her whole life flashed before my eyes.”

• Autobiography – Trying to tell your whole life story in 500 words or less and starts with “Hello, my name is...” will have your essay rejected immediately. Tips:

•Give the reader a sense of who you are – Consider your audience and what they already know about you from transcripts and test scores. Give them something more.

•Choose your subject carefully – Spend time planning your essay. If you are asked to address a specific topic, make sure you do.

•What’s the hook? – Make sure your essay has a strong angle that keeps the reader involved .

 •Stick to specifics – Back up your points with a personal story, expand the discussion with descriptions. •Start with a “Free Write” – Once you have decided upon a topic write for about 20 minutes about it – saying anything you can think of. Then go back and look for points to build upon for your structured essay.

•Proofread, proofread, and proofread! – After you have worked to develop the perfect essay, do not ruin it with typos and misspellings.