I LOVED your golfing story. Read every word. You're a wonderful writer. (Peter Bowerman, the Well-Fed Writer)
Big Things rule! ... and the video of the Airbus is great. (Jim McDonald, Birmingham, UK)
Having enjoyed reading your biographical, They can't take that away from me... I would love to post your article (for my) course for seniors entitled Autobiography and Journaling ... and let them read your article as a good example of what I call the reader's writer, clearly expressed and easy to read. (Howell)
The French language has always appealed to me ... so I enjoyed Lavinia's experiences en France! (Di Sullivan, Perth, Australia)
I am an American and an expat here since 1990. I have been a subscriber to Writing Tip for a few years now and look forward to the Friday editions. I archive by creating topics of the tips relevant to me and often refer. (Mary, Lagos, Nigeria)
Who said Aussies would bet on two flies crawling up a wall? Now I know better! (Bill Denham, Chicago, USA)
I enjoy reading your page every week, Jennifer, it's never boring and there's always something to bring a smile to my face! (Kenny Dima, Tenerife, Spain)
Thanks for pitching in to help clarify the English Language for and with us. (Paul, Portland, USA)
Your story about the evil glasses made my day :) (Edith, Derbyshire, UK)
I enjoy your letter and use it in my advanced writing class here in China. (Bugs, Shenzhen, CHINA)
I always look forward to your Latin quote of the week. (Paul, Mexico City, Mexico)
Aah! Those evil marionettes are everywhere! Thanks for another great laugh! (Jim Fraser, Vancouver, Canada)
Your remarks regarding the alien contact had me in stitches, figuratively speaking, of course. (Dave Wagner, Sacramento, US)
The best part of the missive is the introduction to Australian humour and expressions. (Chaska, Prince Edward County, CANADA)
Like your site...very inspirational when you get writer's block like me! (Peter, Seoul, South Korea)
Nice letter, I was using google for once, twice, thrice and quince, and found this page, great ;) (Marv, Zwolle, NETHERLANDS)
One of the most amusing and erudite newsletters that makes my day. Keep going. (David Vasnaik, Bangalore, INDIA)
Great newsletter - originally found this site after searching for clarification on a contentious point amongst work colleagues. Just had to look at old issues and now look forward to Fridays (Juliet Wallace, Manchester, ENGLAND)
Will Your Essay Bore the Admissions Officers?
College Admissions Essay Secrets
(Compliments of EssayEdge)
Each year, Harvard rejects four out of five valedictorians and hundreds of students with perfect SAT scores, leaving applicants and parents wondering what went wrong. While there is no secret formula for gaining admission to a top school, there are many ways to ensure rejection, and the most common by far is taking the admissions essay lightly.
Over one-third of the time an admissions officer spends on your application is spent evaluating your essay. Admissions officers from colleges and universities use the essay to compare hundreds or even thousands of applicants with similar grades, activities, and SAT scores. To stand out, your essay must not only demonstrate your grasp of grammar and ability to write lucid, structured prose, you must also paint a vivid picture of your personality and character, one that compels a busy admissions officer to accept you.
Fortunately, unlike every other aspect of the application, you control your essay, and can be sure that the glimpse you give the admissions committee into your character, background, and writing ability is the most positive one possible.
As the founder of EssayEdge.com, the Net's largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, EssayEdge.com helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to schools ranging from Harvard to State U. and also online schools.
Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for EssayEdge.com, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise.
TOP 10 ESSAY WRITING TIPS
1. Don't Thesaurusize Your Essay- Do Use Your Own Voice
Admissions officers can tell Roget from an 18-year-old high school senior. Big words, especially when misused, detract from the essay, inappropriately drawing the reader's attention and making the essay sound contrived.
2. Don't Bore the Reader - Do Be Interesting
Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an application essay. Admissions officers aren't looking for a new way to view the world; they're looking for a new way to view you the applicant. The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the slightly jarring scene depicted in the "after" creates intrigue and keeps the reader's interest.
3. Do Use Personal Detail - Show, Don't Tell!
Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert "I learned my lesson" or that "these lessons are useful both on and off the field." They show it through personal detail. "Show don't tell," means if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences and do not merely assert it.
The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the applicant.
4. Do Be Concise - Don't Be Wordy
Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but it also can confuse the important ideas you're trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases such as "the fact that" are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of "to be" and adverbs and adjectives.
5. Don't Use Slang - Yo!
Write an essay, not an email. Slang terms, clichés, contractions, and an excessively casual tone should be eliminated. Here's one example of inappropriately colloquial language.
6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions
The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument.
7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs
Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the verb to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting.
8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions
Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind:
9. Do Answer the Question
Many students try to turn a 500-word essay into a complete autobiography. Not
surprisingly, they fail to answer the question and risk their chances of
attending college. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely
to answer the question.
The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more. EssayEdge.com's free admissions essay help course and Harvard-educated editors will be invaluable as you polish your essay to perfection. The EssayEdge.com free help course guides you through the entire essay-writing process, from brainstorming worksheets and question-specific strategies for the twelve most common essay topics to a description of ten introduction types and editing checklists.
SmartWritingService is a professional essay service where you can find online writing assistance.
The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the morning rush hour. Driven by an inexplicable compulsion, I enter the building along with ten other swimmers, inching my way toward the cold, dark locker room of the Esplanada Park Pool. One by one, we slip into our still-damp drag suits and make a mad dash through the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and kickboards on our way to the pool. Nighttime temperatures in coastal California dip into the high forties, but our pool is artificially warmed to seventy-nine degrees; the temperature differential propels an eerie column of steam up from the water's surface, producing the spooky ambience of a werewolf movie. Next comes the shock. Headfirst immersion into the tepid water sends our hearts racing, and we respond with a quick set of warm-up laps. As we finish, our coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regimen of sets, intervals, and exhortations.
Thus starts another workout. 4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and a five-minute drive to school. Then it's back to the pool; the afternoon training schedule features an additional 5,500 yards. Tomorrow, we start over again. The objective is to cut our times by another tenth of a second. The end goal is to achieve that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of a race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow we accept the pitch--otherwise, we'd still be deep in our mattresses, slumbering beneath our blankets. In this sport, the antagonist is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyze the latest research on training technique, and experiment with workout schedules in an attempt to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning, and workouts are agonizing.
I took part in my first swimming race when I was ten years old. My parents, fearing injury, directed my athletic interests away from ice hockey and into the pool. Three weeks into my new swimming endeavor, I somehow persuaded my coach to let me enter the annual age group meet. To his surprise (and mine), I pulled out an "A" time. I furthered my achievements by winning "Top 16" awards for various age groups, setting club records, and being named National First Team All-American in the 100-Butterfly and Second Team All-American in the 200-Medley. I have since been elevated to the Senior Championship level, which means the competition now includes world-class swimmers. I am aware that making finals will not be easy from here--at this level, success is measured by mere tenths of a second. In addition, each new level brings extra requirements such as elevated weight training, longer weekend training sessions, and more travel from home. Time with friends is increasingly spent in the pursuit of the next swimming objective.
Sometimes, in the solitude of the laps, my thoughts transition to events in my personal life. This year, my grandmother suffered a reoccurrence of cancer, which has spread to her lungs. She had always been driven by good spirits and independence, but suddenly my family had to accept the fact that she now faces a limited timeline. A few weeks later, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, my grandfather--who lives in Japan--learned he had stomach cancer. He has since undergone successful surgery, but we are aware that a full recovery is not guaranteed. When I first learned that they were both struck with cancer, I felt as if my own objective, to cut my times by fractions of a second, seemed irrelevant, even ironic, given the urgency of their mutual goals: to prolong life itself. Yet we have learned to draw on each other's strengths for support--their fortitude helps me overcome my struggles while my swimming achievements provide them with a vicarious sense of victory. When I share my latest award or triumph story, they smile with pride, as if they themselves had stood on the award stand. I have the impression that I would have to be a grandparent to understand what my medals mean to them.
My grandparents' strength has also shored up my determination to succeed. I have learned that, as in swimming, life's successes often come in small increments. Sometimes even the act of showing up at a workout when your body and psyche are worn out separates a great result from a failure. The difference between success and failure is defined by the ability to overcome strong internal resistance. I know that, by consistently working towards my goals--however small they may seem--I can accomplish what I set for myself, both in and beyond the swimming pool.
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Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com