I found this process to be very satisfying for both myself and the young men and women that I taught. It was a wonderful feeling to have a student laugh out loud with relief as a principle which had been unclear and causing anxiety for years suddenly made sense. Once these old "problem areas" were cleared up it was usually quite simple to make clear the subjects that they were working on at the time, especially since I already had an understanding of how they were best able to understand new concepts. Again, I found it important to get the student to play with the new material and look at it in several ways so as to develop a true understanding of the material.
You have worked so hard up until this point, and while you might be relieved, remember: your essay is only as good as your editing. A single grammatical error or typo could indicate carelessness—not a trait you want to convey to a college admission officer.
Take a minute and think about the college or university admission officers who will be reading your essay. How will your essay convey your background and what makes you unique? If you had the opportunity to stand in front of an admission committee to share a significant story or important information about yourself, what would you say? The college application essay is your chance to share your personality, goals, influences, challenges, triumphs, life experiences, or lessons learned. Not to mention why you're a good fit for the college or university—and why it's a good fit for you. These are the stories behind the list of activities and leadership roles on your application.
Once we had identified the initial "problem area, " I would spend a lot of time getting the student to play with questions in that area from a lot of different perspectives. For example, if fractions were the problem, then I would create games to get the student to think of fractions in terms of division, ratios, decimals or other equivalent systems. This would often be a fairly unstructured process, as I wanted to see how the student's mind worked and keep them from feeling any anxiety. Usually it did not take long for the concepts to start becoming clear to the student, as he/she played with the numbers in the absence of the pressure of school. My goal was to not just white wash over a students weaknesses with a few rules which would be quickly forgotten, but to help them develop an understanding and an appreciation for the underlying principles.
Admission officers realize that writing doesn’t come easily to everyone, but with some time and planning, anyone can write a college application essay that stands out. One way to do that is to work step-by-step, piece-by-piece. The end result should be a carefully designed, insightful essay that makes you proud. Take advantage of being able to share something with an audience who knows nothing about you and is excited to learn what you have to offer. Brag. Write the story no one else can tell.
Today, we are asking members of the Emory University Admission Committee to share some of their best pieces of advice about how to write a great essay. Enjoy!
My move to Los Angeles in August 1992 represented not only a great professional challenge-to work with only two senior bankers and cover all California financial institutions-but also a personal opportunity, a chance to broaden my horizons. I grew up in Paris and lived in the capital for 21 years before moving to New York; I definitely was a city girl! Los Angeles demanded however that I adapted to a whole different world, where sport rather than opera rhythms the season. I knew that my first year in the Los Angeles office would be extremely busy due to the small size of my group. In fact I averaged 90 hours of work per week that year. To keep my sanity and maintain a good spirit, I resolved to try and learn a sport that had always fascinated me: surfing. Thus I bought a brand new wetsuit and longboard and started the experience bright and early on a sunny Saturday afternoon under the merciless scrutiny of the local surfers, all males, who did not hide their contempt for my pale skin and weak arms so typical of investment banking Corporate Analysts. Surfing seemed at first an impossible mission: my board always mysteriously rebounded on my head, while the waves would break exactly where I was paddling. At work, there was an explosion of laughter when I proudly exposed my (only) personal project: why, a twenty-six year old Parisian, surfing? This had to be French humor! I resolved however to practice every week-end before coming into the office. Last summer, I finally stood up on my board and rode the wave to the beach. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life and although I still surf regularly, nothing matches my first wave nor the pride that I felt. Because I received little help and encouragement but prevailed, I cherish this experience which was actually a tremendous confidence builder.
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In January 1994,my group was engaged by Robert Bass' Keystone Partners to evaluate their investment in California company, the culminating point of a five-year banking relationship. Keystone Partner however, engaged Goldman Sachs as co-advisor, thereby infuriating the Lehman team. We swore to keep control of the valuation process by solely handling the modeling work including complex simulations and projections, which I was solely responsible for. I quickly drafted a couple of pages that I distributed to both teams. Overnight, the Goldman team reproduced them line by line and sent them directly to the client as their work. It was a great strike against our team. I decided to design a completely different model, and to draw upon the information that I could gather from a long and fruitful client relationship with Lehman Brothers. I convinced the senior vice president, vice president and associate who had covered the company for years to pass on their knowledge, persuaded them to be available for 36 hours straight to answer all my questions, and for four more hours to be trained by me on the model. I designed a 23 page model, stuffed with information, that we presented to the 42 person working team, gathered at our request. The presentation, led by myself for technical explanations and the senior vice president for strategic conclusions, was a great success. The Goldman Senior Partner, recognizing the "excellency" of our model, proposed that I remain in charge of "all the number".
This is another essay that stands out because of its solid writing and superior organization. It starts with a bold assertion to catch the reader’ s attention and then uses the assertion to introduce the mentor’ s most outstanding quality. Each of the next three paragraphs clearly asserts and describes an additional supporting quality. The essay concludes with examples of how the mentor’ s influence has tangibly affected the writer’ s actions and work performance, resulting in rapid promotion.
So often I hear students fretting over their essay topic, not because of the question itself but because they are so focused on the reader or the admission committee. I wish there was a means to express to students that the essays that “speak” to us most are the ones where our own thoughts are silenced because a student has opened their personal Pandora’s box, or imagination, or have stood their ground on a topic that gives them the power to speak their values and personal creed with meaning, intentionality, and conviction. Those students who dive deep into their inner thoughts, who are not afraid to be bold in their convictions and go below the surface of conventional or tacit norms come alive in their applications.