Getting Started: College Essay Brainstorming

Are you struggling to come up with ideas for your college essay? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the college admissions process? Join us for a free webinar on “Getting Started: College Essay Brainstorming.”

In this webinar, former Admissions Officer Aya Waller-Bey will guide you through the essay brainstorming process, helping you identify unique and compelling topics to showcase your personality and strengths. You’ll learn valuable tips and strategies to craft a standout essay that showcases your individuality and stands out to college admissions officers.

During the webinar, you will:

  • Explore different brainstorming techniques to help you generate ideas
  • Identify unique stories and experiences that can showcase your personality and strengths
  • Learn how to structure and refine your essay to make it stand out

This webinar is perfect for high school students who are beginning the college application process or who are struggling to come up with essay ideas. It’s also a great opportunity for parents and counselors who want to support students through the college application process.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get expert guidance on your college essay. Register now and join us for “Getting Started: College Essay Brainstorming.”

Date 03/13/2023
Duration 1:01:41

Webinar Transcription

2023-03-13 – Getting Started/ College Essay Brainstorming

Anesha: Hi, everyone, and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I’m a senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator today. Before we get started, I just want to orient everyone to tonight’s, to the timing of the webinar, but before I do that, let me tell you the name of it.

Tonight’s webinar is, “Getting Started, uh, College Essay Brainstorming.” So before we open up for Q& A, our presenter will share some tips, resources, and guidance on how to start brainstorming your college essay, and then we will open up the floor to your questions in a live Q& A. On the sidebar, you can download our slides in the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions in the Q& A tab whenever you get ready.

But let’s meet our presenter, Aya. Hi, Aya, how are you doing?

Aya: Hi. Hello, everyone. I’m Aya Waller-Bey. I am a former admissions officer working with CollegeAdvisor. I now have been with CollegeAdvisor, um, going on almost two years now. So I can’t believe time has flown by. Um, a little bit about me. So I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and I’m a first generation college student.

So shout out to all the first generation college students in the audience. Um, and then I went on to go to Georgetown University where I studied social work. Sociology. Um, shortly after my stint, um, there’s an undergrad, I became an admissions officer there and worked at undergraduate, uh, admissions. And also I did the multicultural recruitment for the office of undergraduate admissions there as well.

After, uh, working in admissions, I received a scholarship to go to England where I got my master’s in philosophy of education at the University of Cambridge. Um, Shout out to the Gates Cambridge Foundation. And then I worked and did admissions consulting and alumni interviewing while living in England and have since been an alumni admissions reviewer or interviewer rather for Georgetown.

So I’m incredibly excited to be here. I also forgot to mention, I’m getting currently my PhD at the University of Michigan in sociology. Where I also study college admissions essay. So I’m very excited to be a part of this conversation and to be able to answer the questions you have tonight.

Anesha: Yeah, I hope our participants are excited because I is absolutely an expert on this topic and tonight’s going to be a great session.

But before I hand it over to you, we’re going to do a quick poll. So, Uh, in order for Aida to have some context on today’s conversation, please let us know what grade level you’re in. The options are 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th, 12th, or other, other, that is for parents, um, who might be in the session with us as we’re waiting for some.

Comments are some folks are telling me that the screen is blank. You should be able to see the slides on today’s session and it should be up on the pole. So, if the screen is blank for you, that might be some challenges on your end. Okay. All right. So the screen is back. I’m sorry for any technical glitches that were happening for folks out there.

We’ll give a few more seconds. I was going to ask you a question, but I’ll ask it at the end when we do our Q and a had to deal with some glitches there, but okay, we’ll go ahead and close our poll. Thanks everybody for submitting your responses and just as an FYI, the majority of folks in the space today are 11th graders.

So, about 75 percent of our participants are in 11th grade and then. Um, let’s see, 5 percent are in 9th grade, 11 percent are in 10th grade, and the remainder are others. So, a lot of folks who are gearing up, thinking about starting to write that essay. So, yeah, I’ll hand it over to you, Aya, and then I’ll be back a little bit later.

Aya: Awesome. So, yeah, we have a lot of 11th graders in this space. You are right on time. This is a very timely conversation. So I’m happy to have so many of you in the room and also to our sophomores and other, um, uh, audience members. This conversation, you know, it’s never too late or too early rather to, to really get to learn more about the college application.

So to begin, I want to kind of talk about, you know, what are the different college application essay types. So you’ll hear a lot of different words and describing the college application and the college admissions process. Um, there are three common college application essays. The first being the college personal statement.

So the college personal statement is an essay submitted to colleges and universities that showcases. Your student voice, your writing skills. I really revealed deaf and add context to the application. So the college person statement, especially for those who will be applying to college on the common app or the common application, which is the most popular and the largest college admissions application portal or submission form.

We also have universities like my alma mater, Georgetown, who have their own application. And then there’s also the coalition app. And for our students applying to historically black colleges and universities, there’s also a separate common app for some of those institutions as well. But nevertheless, the college personal statement is that statement that you’re going to write one and submit to all the schools.

So naturally in that essay, you will be naming institutions. You won’t be naming specific things about the actual school or university. You’re going to be responding to, on the common application, one of six or seven prompts. One being choose your own topic. And it’s going to be about 650 words, I believe is the word limit.

And you’re going to write that essay. responding to one of the questions and that will be submitted to all the schools to which you submit an application. So there’s one personal statement that will be submitted to all the schools. You then have the supplemental essay. So these are additional essays that invite students to write about a variety of topics, often using very school specific prompts.

So unlike the personal statement, supplemental essays are required by only some colleges and universities, and they’re often used to highlight fit. So essentially, not all the schools on your list may have supplemental essays. You might apply to 10 colleges and only 5 require supplemental essays. And those essays often ask why in certain institutions.

So they might ask, why Columbia University? Or why University of Michigan? So then there’s an opportunity for you to show some school specific knowledge, showing that you’ve done some research, showing that you’ve done your homework. Those essays often tend to be on the shorter side, not always, but you’ll find that supplemental essays can sometimes be one word, one sentence, three sentences, 250 words, 500 words, okay?

So they tend to be shorter, um, more school specific, um, Essay questions. And then you have scholarship essays. So I’m working with some students now who are already admitted to some universities, but they’re currently pursuing scholarships at those respective institutions. So, consequently, they’re writing essays that respond to, you know, why they want to go to, you know, uh, University of Indiana or why do they want to go to Michigan State University?

So those are ways for students going to demonstrate perhaps financial need, demonstrate some academic excellence and really show how that scholarship will benefit or help their ability to attend, you know, the institution. So again, these are less common for college applications, but students may write additional essays for merit based scholarships or grants.

So those are the three kind of primary essay types that you’ll find on college applications.

Now, what is the significance of the college essay? So you might recall earlier when I did my introduction that I actually study college admissions essays, and currently I’m actually interviewing admissions officers from all over the country about how they review college essays. So this is very, again, timely and salient conversation.

So the, the college essay is significant for a host of reasons. You know, first and foremost, it is one of the few parts of the application where the admissions office or committee get to hear directly. from you, right? So it is an opportunity for the student voice to really shine through. It provides an opportunity to tell your story in your own words.

It adds some qualitative information to your application. So outside of those standardized test scores outside of the GPAs and also outside of what others say about you, say your, your counselor or a teacher, it is an opportunity for you to showcase your personality and also add that unique touch to your application.

Again, it’s also one of the few opportunities in the application where admissions officers get to hear directly from, from you. And I’ll say this, some universities also use these essays to kind of ensure that there is an alignment between your academic performance in the classroom and also your writing ability and writing skills.

So they also want to make sure that you are a strong writer or a writer that, you know, will be successful at that respective institution as well. I also say, and I hear this from a lot of admissions officers, it’s also one of our favorite parts of the application. It’s a really great opportunity to get to learn more about our applicants, get to learn more about our students, hear about their passions, their interests, what what inspires them, what motivates them, their why.

So it’s a, it’s also a really fun part of the review process as well.

Now, um, this is, again, we have a lot of Jews in this room. We have a few sophomores, some ninth graders, and of course, parents and other folks joining the conversation. You know, what, what should. I get started, right? So I really, if you’re a junior, start now. Um, I think this is a really great opportunity. And I’ll say this, um, you may have heard advice that, you know, you can start your ninth grade year, even your 10th grade year.

One reason why I think the junior year is that sweet spot is oftentimes you will, um, in some schools, let me not use the word often, but in some institutions and some high schools, you might actually spend time in class, especially your junior year. maybe working on a college personal statement. That might be a writing assignment for you.

Um, also you, by that point, you would have had some experiences that may have been, um, You know, timely or whatever occurred more recently that you can then use to reflect about in your essay. You may have participated in some summer programs or some activities in that high school period of time that will give you an opportunity to write and reflect about them.

So I often find like this is the sweet spot and your writing would have improved, right? So your writing would have certainly developed, you know, more as a junior in high school than, you know, an eighth grader. Now, so, but when thinking about this kind of timeline again, I always encourage students to really try to maximize that summer between their junior and senior year in high school.

Um, you know, you want, ideally, you really want to start kind of brainstorming topics, um, and thinking about what to write about, and getting some stories out, some short stories, just thinking about what motivates you, what inspires you, who do you look, look up to, what you want to study, why. You really want to start getting those ideas out, and it will be great.

Ideally, if you had a draft of the personal statement by September 1st, what that does is allow, give you opportunity to rework it, to re envision it, to make edits to it, um, before, you know, the school semester gets really in swing because for, especially for our seniors here who are very competitive and very high achieving, you know, they’re taking multiple AP courses and honors courses and there’s extracurricular activities and familial responsibilities and jobs.

So when you do have time, you know, you really want to. lean into that summertime to really get as much written as possible. And then when you have that draft, you can then ask teachers, mentors, college counselors, parents, or anyone you trust to review and provide feedback. Because I’ll tell you this, you know, I work with a lot of students here at CollegeAdvisor and that first essay draft is not the only essay draft you’re going to write.

You’re going to rewrite and edit that bad boy a few times. So you also want to give yourself time, especially if you’re planning to apply early action or early decision, uh, or some of our California. schools where those application deadlines are end of October or November 1st. So you really want to try to get those applications out as soon as you can.

Again, I also encourage students to complete that personal statement first. Again, that is that one essay that you submit to all of the schools, right? It also helps to get those juices flowing. I think a lot of people find 650 words in length, you know, they’re like, Oh, this is so consequential. You know, there’s some nerves that come along with it.

And by the time they have that final, you know, a personal statement, that sign off from a teacher, a counselor, their advisor, whomever. They feel like, okay, that wasn’t that bad. I can do it. I’m ready to take this on. So just something to think about, you know, start getting that person statement out of the way so you don’t have to think about it.

And then you can start working on those supplemental essays again. All of the schools won’t ask for supplemental essays. I feel like increasingly schools are actually doing away with a supplemental essay. So you really want to just kind of make sure you get that person statement done first. And then I also say try to complete essays at least two weeks before application deadlines.

Now I know from experience that is not always the case. I’ve gotten so many emails and, you know, very, very late, you know, the deadline, you know, it’s Halloween and everyone’s trying to get those applications in. Um, so I’ve encountered that as well, but you really don’t want to put that type of pressure on yourself.

You really want to feel confident and secure in what you submit. So ideally you want to get those essays complete. Um, Before the two weeks before the application deadline, it gives you some time to breathe. It gives you some time to clean up other areas in your application to get a second opinion, et cetera.

So it’s not something you want to wait to do until the last minute. Um, it’s very stressful for every, everyone involved. Now, what techniques can I use for brainstorming and generating ideas? So I think this is a really, uh, a big one. Popular question that I hear the students I work with ask about all the time and just people here just out in the wild You know again in some schools, they’ll have at English class prompts So some schools they’ll write about you know They’ll have personal essays that they write in class and some students will say hey, I wrote this class in my This essay in my English class You know, is this something I can use for my essay?

And sometimes you can, with some tweaking, of course, and some retooling. But you can consider EssayTop as you’ve written about in school. You also just want to review the essay prompts that are already available for the Common Application. So they rarely change the essay prompts, the six or seven that they’ve used, they’ve used for several years now.

So, look at a few pick two or three that stand out to you and just begin to just like get those thoughts out of their head and on paper, right? So if it asks you, you know, who’s the one person who inspires you and why just start jotting down ideas, you know, it’s my mom for this reason, or it’s my family physician for this reason, or it’s my neighbor for this reason, you know, just get those thoughts from your head onto the piece of paper.

Also, Google is your friend. So, you know, there are a list of questions to help brainstorm ideas online. Um, you can literally Google, um, like brains college essay, brainstorm ideas just to kind of get those thoughts again from your head to the page. So there’s questions like, what is your favorite childhood memory?

You know, you can really use that to just Get those thoughts flowing. Uh, what is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make, you know, and why, right? So that even a question like that is already going to help you talk about how you’ve overcome something, um, or the resilience or your critical thinking skills or decision making skills, your leadership skills.

So you’re really, These types of questions can really help you start to think about, um, how you can position yourself in your essays and in your applications more broadly. Again, a teacher or coach who inspired you, you know, a great way to kind of show what types of qualities that you find important, that you value, why, and kind of make those connections.

And then also, when you start thinking about supplemental essays and they say why You know, tell us about what you want to study. What motivated this decision? Have you’ve already thought about what’s your favorite subject in school and why? And there’s a connection, you know, that you’ve already started to do some of the legwork there so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

So again, just looking through essay prompts here, just a few to really get those juices flowing. And this is again a great place to start.

Anesha: We’re gonna come back and do another quick poll. Um, and this one is to kind of give some direction as to where you all feel like you are having some challenges in the writing process. And as we start that poll, one question I’ll post to you, Aya, that came up early on is how you mentioned some of those, like, unique touches that students can integrate into their essays.

And one student said, you know, what would be some advice you would give on incorporating those touches into the essay?

Aya: Well, I think I actually address that point, um, a little later in the presentation. So if that’s okay, um, let’s, let’s wait till we get to that point of the conversation. Um, but I have some tips for you.

Anesha: Apologies for getting ahead of your, of your session. Um, but the options that we have as far as what are daunting aspects of the process are brainstorming. I assume a few folks are going to have some trouble with brainstorming. Some folks have already shared that they’re having some challenges with coming up with the topic.

They can see the prompts, but they’re not sure how to respond to it. Um, some folks are already expressing some, um, exasperation on the amount of essays that are coming up. So, uh, the essay process is it is. Time consuming, but if you’re in the 11th grade and even if you’re in 10th grade or a little bit younger, this is a good time to start thinking about it, start making a plan.

And, um, I know I is going to present some more context tips and also some more resources to support. And if you are a CollegeAdvisor, definitely connect with your advisor to make sure you’re getting those options. Um, all right, we’ll go ahead and close the poll. And I’ll just share with you, Aya, that about 45 percent of folks said that they, uh, that brainstorming the essay topics has been the most daunting, um, hence their attendance today.

14 percent are struggling with drafting the essays and 25 percent are struggling with writing essays. So they have a topic, but they’re not sure how to move forward. 6 percent are having trouble reviewing essays. And then 10 percent are a little bit overwhelmed by the amount of essays, the volume that’s involved there.

So, um, I’m sure you’ll speak to some of that and then we can definitely raise questions in the Q and A a little bit later, but thanks guys.

Aya: Absolutely, and thank you all for your honesty. I, you know, we would be lying if we said this is like, oh, easy. I mean, it’s, it’s. It is very daunting and time consuming and very overwhelming, um, especially if you are applying to schools that have a lot of supplemental essays or, or Ivy leagues and some of our most selective universities tend to have supplemental essays and it’s a lot.

So, I’m hoping that through this conversation, you can learn some tips and kind of realize that you can do it. Thousands of thousands of students do it every year. They are no better or more special than you are. So you can do this and we’ll get through it together. So, so let’s continue. So how can I highlight my unique experiences and personality in my essays, which I believe was the question that was just posed.

So, you know, one thing I encourage students to do is use specific. concrete examples to convey their points, focusing on the examples on the present and your past. So you really want to tell a story, paint a picture. Um, sometimes students make assumptions about what we know about them. You know, you really have to be detailed because we, we’ve never lived, you know, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

We don’t know what it means to live, you know, on Chestnut Street. I don’t know what it means to come home to, you know, um, a lasagna in the oven. You know, I have not lived. not experienced that. So picture that allows me to your dinner table, if you your descriptions through through the language you is really important in th I also encourage students being too abstract.

I thin In some kind of free writing types of courses and et cetera, students get so out like so abstract and flowery where it’s like, what exactly do you mean here? So I think sometimes leaning too heavily on up of sores can actually, um, put a student at a disadvantage if I can’t, understand what you’re trying to communicate because you’ve, you know, if you just go too abstract.

So really just again, tell the story in your own words, paint that photo and picture for us, but make sure you are communicating, you know, substantially with some type of, you know, ground us in the conversation. Um, I think highlighting a way to highlight your unique experiences and personalities, right?

Incorporating elements of your culture, whether it’s language, whether it’s culture, Or expressions that reflect distinct cultural experiences. Um, also, I mean, think about starting the essay, like a day in a life. Like, how do you, when you get up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do? Some of you might reach for your iPhone.

You might scroll TikToK, but some of you might say, I, the first thing I get up, you know, I made a commitment that my feet always touched the ground before I reached for my phone or the first thing that I do, you know, I roll on my knees and I pray, whatever it might be, you know, tell, just Think about what’s the day in the life like you, you know, how, how do you start your day?

Maybe you begin every day with a five mile run, you know, or you begin every day checking in your checking in on your little sister, right? And her crew, right? So again, tell, tell us about what does it mean to walk to walk in your shoes? I think that’s a great way to really get those juices flowing as well.

And also, you know, try to define less well known terms or expressions in your essay. Again, sometimes students make, um, Too many assumptions about what we know. Um, or, you know, if you’re live in San Francisco and you’re applying to, to schools and to in Michigan, we may not know some of the references there.

So make sure you are, again, painting that picture for us, uh, and, and, and telling us, you know, what you’re, what you’re really trying to say, or showing us what you. Really trying to say. So, um, I think this is a really great question about what are some of the best ways to stay organized? You know, I I’m not getting paid to say this, but Google is really your friend.

And by that I mean, like the Google suites. Eso thinking about Google spreadsheets or Google Docs, which is inside the Google Drive. It’s a really great way to stay organized. As I mentioned earlier, myself, I’m getting a P. H. G. So I am utilizing Google and Dropbox and things all the time and in the Google spreadsheet is a great way to So if you had those questions, like what’s my favorite memory, what’s my favorite subject in school, you can just jot down in the spreadsheet, your responses to that, um, or on a Google document, you can just kind of write some essay questions and just start dropping things down or jotting things down.

Rather, I think one thing, um, and I heard that this was something that, um, was really a point of concern for some of you is we overthink it. We think the 1st 1st of all, we think the 1st draft is the only draft, right? Which is not the case. Um, we think that if the essay isn’t the unique or special or it doesn’t stand out, I won’t get in.

And that’s not the case. Um, the most important part of an application is your transcript and performing well. And the most, um, rigorous courses that your school has to offer for you. The high school transcript is the most important part of the application. So any college counselor or, um, admissions officer, former AO will tell you this.

So first and foremost. But then students think, you know, if I’m not unique enough or special enough, I’m not going to get in. And everyone is special, right? So even if you were, you write about a topic that you think someone else is writing about, they won’t write it about it in the same way that you will.

So they don’t, they don’t, they’re not you. So I want you to remember that. So yeah, I want you to, you think about using a Google document or a Word document, Or some document where you can just have a just, you know, one space or one place where all of your ideas go. And then you can use the keyword search.

You can just kind of search the document like, oh, here I talked about my interest in mathematics. Here I talked about my interest in creative writing. So, um, try to, you know, Have one place, a depository where you at, where you have everything. So here, you know, what tips do we have for structuring and refining?

Again, this is going to some of the questions that you all posed earlier. I always say, and think about structuring your essays, focus on your why. Why are you telling this story? What would you like the admissions committee to learn about you from this essay? So each essay is communicating something.

There’s still, they’re telling something about you. So think about, do you want them to know that you are a courageous, Do you want them to know that you are a leader? Do you want them to know that you love your family? Do you want to want them to know that you, your faith is very important to you? Would you want them to know that you love being a global citizen?

You know, what is the takeaway? What, when someone, you know finishes your essay and close the laptop, they can say, I know this about Aya. Like Aya is this kind of student, right? So think about your why. What are you trying to communicate? Begin an essay with a hook. to keep the reader interested and wanting to read more.

So I, you know, essays that say, Hi, I’m Aya. I’m from Detroit. And I, I really love to read. Well, that’s nice. Right. And I might say, okay, she loves to read. I want to know more why she wants to read. But, you know, sometimes again, telling a story really helps us kind of be like, Hmm, that’s super interesting. So if you, if you say, instead of saying, I’m Aya, and I like to read, if you said, I’m on page 255, Page 255 is where I found, you know, the answer to this question that had been like plaguing me for, for three years.

It is in, it’s in the, you know, the last, Harry Potter book where I discovered that on page 255 that Harry discovers the sorceress, whatever. But if you, if you start off with a hook, you’re like, okay, that’s interesting. So then you want to prioritize. Also, you want to prioritize one topic. Sometimes people are doing too much in one essay.

Um, you really need to focus on kind of one, If you’re going to write about working at Jimmy John’s, tell the story of working at Jimmy John’s. Don’t go from working about Jimmy John’s and summer camp. Then, you know, one topic you want to show, don’t tell. And I’ll talk a little bit more about this later, but you really want, if you don’t want to say, you know, I’m a really, uh, studious, like I’m really studious.

Give us an example of that. What does it mean to be studious? What does that look like? Oh, I, you know, I volunteer at my local library and even after closing, I’m there. I’m there. reviewing the, you know, microeconomics material. So show, don’t tell. And then finally, ensure that the beginning and ending are aligned.

Um, so sometimes students would do the circular thing where they’ll start with a a quote or something and they’ll end back with a quote Um, but it should feel like one essay. I shouldn’t finish the essay and be like, huh? What did that have to do with anything if they didn’t talk about that before? And then refining you want a proofread?

Okay I also encourage students to walk away from the essay for a day or two before revising Um, and then, you know, use that read aloud feature on Microsoft Word. If you don’t know what it is, it’s like the letter A at the top of the document and you can press the button and it will just read it. I do it all the time.

I’m writing hundreds and hundreds of like pages every year, you know, as I work on my dissertation and I use that feature a lot to capture things that I oftentimes miss. Another popular question. How can I make my essay stand out? One thing I’ll say is it’s the essay standing out is a super interesting way to kind of think about it because people are going.

They’re going to read thousands of essays, right? I think sometimes students say, when they say stand out, they think memorable. Um, and if an essay is a solid essay and it perhaps is not the most memorable essay, but the student is clearly thoughtful, clearly a strong writer, clearly has the grades. And if they submitted them test scores, um, to the school, they’re, they’re gonna be, they’ll be admitted, you know?

So, Don’t let the fear of standing out kind of silence you or makes you freak out. Um, so Craig says, so a great college essay, you know, you want to ensure that it first answers the question. That’s really important. If you’re again, if you’re talking about what’s your favorite subject, if you’re responding to that prompt, you shouldn’t be, you know, Talking about, you know, um, you know, your cheerleading team, you know, make sure there’s an alignment there.

Again, you want to effectively describe how the experience, um, that you talk about has led to personal growth or understanding of belongingness in a way that demonstrates, you know, maturity, character, and open mindedness. So you want to be able to say, um, you know, through all these things, I’ve learned this.

You know, you really are trying to show what type of student you’ll be on a campus. You want to ensure that it reflects your voice. Of course, they should be, you know, polished and free of major grammatical areas, errors, and typos. And they shouldn’t read like I wrote it. You know, I’m on my fourth degree.

Our essays will not read the same. They won’t sound the same. Even students who are attending to really well resourced schools, you know, so it should not sound like your parent wrote it or a Ph.D. candidate wrote it. And you also, again, you want to use specific and concrete examples. You know, show us, don’t tell us.

And then finally, you know, we’re thinking about kind of, you know, last tips that I can share. Um, again, show, don’t tell. So instead of saying, I learned a lot volunteering at the Cleveland Animal Shelter. Sure. Try, you know, while feeding the sick puppies with the other shelter volunteers, I learned the importance of teamwork and compassion.

And then in the next story, next sentence, you’ll kind of talk about like, How did you learn that skill? Again, you want to share lessons learned. You want to detail how the experience you write about informed your future and the type of student you’ll be at, you know, the respect of college, right? So if you talk about your love for reading and that was really motivated by your English teacher, you know, what would your love arena look like in the future once you’re on college camp?

Does that mean you might, So at a reading club, does that mean, you know, you, you want to be an English teacher yourself or English professor or a writer, you know, you really want to kind of make that connection wherever possible. Again, stay organized. You’re going to have a lot of supplements if you apply to, you know, again, our Ivy leagues and our most selective institutions do often have supplemental essays.

So it can, you can get bogged down sometimes. So stay organized, whether it’s having one document where they all are and you can have, you know, You’re able to kind of indicate that on the Google Doc. You can use that one spreadsheet, um, if you like Excel better. But, you know, trying to have like a one place to deposit all the essays is a really great idea.

You can have a Google folder where you say these are for Swarthmore, these are from, you know, University of Texas, these are for, you know, Macalister College. So you really want to stay organized. And then also, um, a common mistake I see is that, Students sometimes in writing about particularly topics about like who motivated them or you know, maybe their their grandfather was a physician and this is why they want to be a doctor.

Sometimes students spend too much time talking about other people and not enough time about themselves. So you really also want to make sure that you write an essay talking about your stories because even if your grandpa was an amazing physician, the universities, they’re not trying to make grandpa, they’re trying to make you.

So you want to make sure that your Uh, it’s about your life and your experiences and not someone else’s.

Anesha: All right. I’m trying to answer the question in the chat before we got started, but we’ll move on to the Q& A. Uh, just as a reminder. Bye. Bye. Okay. Um, all right, well, hopefully, eventually it’ll come up. Um, just as a reminder, before we get started on our Q and a, you can again, download the slides under the handout tab and you can submit any of your questions to the Q and a tab.

If you’re having any challenges with facing your questions, you may have to log out and log back in through the custom link that was sent to your email. All right, let’s move forward and. And also as a reminder, the webinar is being recorded so that you can view it at a later time. The e the recording will be sent to you, uh, via the email that you use to register.

Um, our first question for the evening is, someone said, I’ve seen, um, essays, uh, about trauma and divorce, et cetera, and on the opposite end about colors pasta in the letter S What is the safest choice to write about?

Aya: There’s no safe choice. Um, yeah, there, there’s no safe choice. I mean, I, the, the. The best essay to write about the best essay topics to write about is one that reflects your personal experience on one that you are excited to write about one that is well written and one that kind of response to some of the points that I just made as far as telling a story about you, telling it, responding to the actual essay question that you received, you know, you want to make sure you’re answering the question.

Um, you know, I actually studied trauma in college admissions essay, so that’s a really, uh, Um, I said, as I said this earlier, and I really want to emphasize this point, the essay is there to complicate compliment you and really compliment the application. It is supposed to help you. It is supposed to provide more context, more insight, allow the admissions offices to tell to hear your story.

Um, however, it is that your grades. And then for the students. Schools that consider them test scores that are really gonna carry the most weight in the application process. So you really wanna prioritize having a strong academic record and a strong transcript. The essay is there that is supposed to support you, and in some cases, you know, um.

schools don’t some schools don’t even look at the essay. You know, they they really they look at the numbers. So you really want to ensure that you are making sure that you are doing what you need to do in the classroom and that the essay again is reflecting in your personal experience that it you can take a fun light hearted approach.

I’ve seen those done really well or you can take a more serious approach about and talk about something you’ve had to endure and overcome. It is based on what you feel like is best to tell your story. Don’t think about what the admissions officers want to hear. They want to hear what you want to write about.

Anesha: Thanks for that. Um, so there was a question. Is it a good or bad idea to integrate creative writing into your personal essay?

Aya: You can integrate creative writing. We see it all the time. Um, you just want to make sure that it is still easy to follow and that people can discern what you’re talking about.

But no, creative writing is fine. I mean, that’s part of your creativity. That’s a writing style that some students have. You do just want to make sure that it’s still substantive and that you’re not I’m not struggling to follow the analogies or the metaphors. Like, I still want to be able to understand what you are thinking about.

Anesha: Just keeping on the line around structure, and you were talking about there has to be a difference between academic and personal writing, when a student asks, should we include, um, citations in our essays?

Aya: No, unless it asks you to do so. I can’t imagine a point in the personal statement that you would be citing.

Anyone. Uh, well, okay. So I, I just missed, that’s not true. So some people might say, you know, use quotes, right? Um, one of my favorite quotes is it’s never too late to be who you might’ve been. You know, it’s by allegedly that’s by George Eliot, but if you Google it, it might say it’s by someone else anyway.

Um, so if I said, one of my favorite quotes is, It’s never too late to be who you might have been. So I’ll put that in quotations. And then I’ll say, you know, those were spoken by George Elliott or a named person, et cetera. So you can you want to if you’re using someone else’s words, you should cite your sources in a sense of, um, making sure you name that those are not your words or use quotations, but you do not need in text citations.

You won’t have space for that or references. You will have space for that. So you do not need to do that in your personal statement or, um, Okay. Or your supplements, unless it is asking for you to, you know, I did work with a student applying to University of Michigan who did in one of his supplemental essays, he was referring to specific data point data points, and he was saying, according to the Center for public health and according to, you know, and has statistics.

So there was a reference to what they’re reciting. But again, this is not an academic essay, and I’ll say 99 percent of the personal statements that I’ve ever. Um, right. There was not a citation. It’s not necessary at all.

Anesha: So one more structure question. Someone asked, should the prompt be repeated in the essay?

Aya: No, no, don’t repeat that. Um, the prompt, you’re just going to take up, uh,

Anesha: So we’ve got a few questions around the common app and availability of, um, I guess supplemental essays. So do supplemental essays change? At what point can we get access to the common app? Should we start using the common app now? You could speak a little bit to that timeline and process.

Aya: Yeah, sure. Yeah, great question. So, um, I believe August 1st is when the common app opens. Refreshes every year. Um, so that’s when, um, students often will kind of make accounts. I mean, I, I believe that the accounts do roll over actually. So, yeah. So August 1st is when, um, the common app refreshes. So that’s something to, to keep in mind.

You can go on to the common app. Now you can still make a profile. You can actually look at the statements, the personal, um, the person statement prompts again. Those rarely change at all. You should still be writing those essays in a Google Doc or something that you can continue to update as far as supplement supplemental essays.

That’s a very school specific thing. So some schools one year they will have supplemental essays and then one year they might decide that they won’t have them anymore that those decisions also happen during the early fall. However, I always encourage students to start doing their own research. You can go to a website, a university website and find the answer to that question and, or, and I find this is always a point of fear, contention.

You are in the age, as you know, high school students to really start self advocating for yourself. I often call admissions offices and ask questions. I can search a website in my and I can’t find it and I’ll say, Hi, I’m so and so I really have a question about when the supplemental essay questions will be available for Carnegie Mellon.

Um, do you have a date for that? They might say, of course, September 1st, or they might say, we haven’t made that decision yet, but we will, we will update it on our website. So that’s the decisions. For the new supplemental essays, I believe they roll out in the fall as well, and universities do change them.

Sometimes they eliminate them all together. So I would just keep an eye out on that for the specific institutions that you’re applying to visit their website, or just reach out to the school.

Anesha: Yeah. Um, and then someone asked really quickly, do you have to have a title? So similar to the conversation about repeating the prompt.

No, you do not need to have a title for your essay. You do not need to begin to repeat the prompt at the top of it. Um, you can just start writing your essay. Uh, are there some cliche topics that I should avoid?

Aya: I mean, there are a lot of cliché topics. I had an admissions officer push back on this particular question that I was interviewing for my dissertation and said that they wanted to encourage students to just write about whatever they wanted to write about, even if that meant they had to read about a sport again.

Um, cause I, so my personal or unprofessional opinion is. sports are so, so overdone that they become not exciting to read about. Um, so those tend to be, you know, something we see a lot. Um, sport injuries. Um, uh, we, we see students who may write about service opportunities abroad that sometimes, uh, falls into the, um, Exploitation of like the marginalized, you know, the kind of religious savior, those types of essays sometimes can not go over as well.

Um, you know, uh, politics is always an interesting question. You know, sometimes, you know, students, you want to apply, you want to study government or, or, you know, Political science that you might write about how you’ve been energized and by some, you know, policies. But, you know, you always want to be mindful that we don’t, you don’t know who’s reading this essay.

So you also don’t want to offend the admissions officer. They are human, right? Um, but so politics, you, you, you want to be careful about that. Of course you want to, you don’t want to say anything disparaging about specific people or groups or be threatening. That’s never, um, that would never, uh, vote well for, for anyone.

Um, So yeah, cliches like sports, um, uh, I mean, I did read quite a bit about like parents divorcing and, oh, um, grandparents. So like, um, uh, a loved one passing away from an illness, whether it’s cancer or, um, that is something that we see often. Um, but the thing is I, again, I’m really changing my tune about avoiding a hundred percent, but just know that it is a.

topic that we will see that doesn’t mean that you absolutely cannot write about it, but just know that it is going to be a topic that they, they see, um, and you will be one of, you know, one of many other students who write about it, but does that mean absolutely don’t write about it? My tune has slightly changed.

I won’t say absolutely don’t, but if you could think about creative ways to kind of talk about experiences, even those that you find mundane or common, do that again, think about a day in the life of Emily, right? Like there’s only one view. So think about what your day and what your story looks like.

Again, prioritize the story of self. I worry less about what other people are doing. I just worry about what you are doing because they’re going to be reading your application.

Anesha: Yeah. I. I think, yeah, it’s hard to avoid writing about cliche topics or saying something unique, but I think if you make sure you are writing about it from your perspective, and that you’re reflecting on how it’s impacting as an individual, that’s the way I think, yeah, I think within admissions, it’s all cyclical.

So you’re going to get a lot of repeats along the way. But, um, As long as you are conveying who you are individually, I think that’s the biggest hope you can have if you’re writing about something that might be a little bit more common as a topic. Um, this is an interesting question and kind of timely.

One student asked, can we use tools like ChatGPT to refine ideas slash essays? Of course not for writing the complete essay, but do you have thoughts on leveraging those types of tools for refining essays?

Aya: First of all, shout out to whoever asked that question because that’s a really great question and that.

Question has a missions officers and counselors and consultants in a frenzy right now. So, um, I think that’s a fantastic question. So my short answer and thinking about the first part, can we help, can we use it to generate, um, kind of ideas? I’ll say yes, because you know, one thing, and I’ve actually been incorporating ChatGPT, uh, and some of the things that I’ve been doing, uh, recently, uh, I saw someone.

Say that they use it to help, um, kind of think through like colleges and universities, like some differences between some schools they were debating about. And I was like, wow, what an interesting way to utilize that resource. So I’ll say yes to generate ideas for sure. Um, however, as someone who’s now, I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT, I can still tell that there’s, there’s a missing.

Human voice in that so I maybe because I write a lot and I read a lot So I’m more aware of it so I can tell that there when I read something I can tell if it was not written By a high school junior or senior. There’s just a very distinct robot voice. I still think that that software has, but I do think there’s opportunities to help generate ideas that could be really interesting.

And I would love that actually makes me I want to play around with it, too, and see what it comes up with. If I say, like, you know, give me some essay prompts that I can brainstorm with. I’m really curious to know what what it will say. So yes, you do not want to and you will I know universities are already thinking about how they’re going to limit the use of ChatGPT and also other artificial bots on campus because it will lend itself to more nefarious means for plagiarism and those other types of things.

So I do want to caution anyone from using it as the end all be all. Or, or using it to write a statement because I think there’s going to be increased use of software that can detect, um, you know, when artificial intelligence is writing for you. So, you know, there’s a fine line there, but I think as an idea generator, I think it could be kind of interesting.

I think it could help to get the juices flowing for sure.

Anesha: Yeah, I, I mean, I will say as an advisor, I used it to, I put in some of the common app prompts, and I used it as a, like, basic, if you wanna say nothing entirely, like to answer this question, this is what you should not do because you, it can’t give you very personal information.

Um, as a, as a AI machine, it can kind of give you broad strokes and, but it’s, it’s kind of like, how do you answer the question without really answering the question. So I’ve used it as a boiler plate. An example of what not to write about and how you can kind of dive deeper to add personal context. So that’s 1 way.

I use it and try to integrate it thoughtfully into the advising process. But, um, that to that point, we want to encourage you to reach out and leverage CollegeAdvisor. If you are not currently working with us, we have a team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts like I am myself who are ready to help you and your family navigate the process through 1 on 1 advising sessions.

You can take the next step by using the. QR code on the screen to sign up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy strategy session, uh, with a admission specialist on our team. During that conversation, we’ll review your extracurriculars, talk about application strategy, and discuss how everything lines up with your college list and share some additional tools to help you stand out in the admissions world.

So continuing to encourage you to reach out to us that way. I’m gonna pivot and have a question. A student shared that they English is not their first language. How do you think that might affect their essay? Do you have any tips for them to keep in mind?

Aya: So I mean, English could not be your first language and you can still be an incredibly strong writer.

So and, um, We might cannot tell that, um, however, it’s different if, are you going to English speak in high school? Um, or is this someone from abroad? I would need a little bit more context. We there’s thousands of students who apply to universities and here in the US and English is not their first language.

Um, yeah, I mean, I do feel like if there are glaring, um, errors in the personal statement or in the essays where it looks like a student is struggling with the command of the language. It could have a negative impact about, um, on their applications, particularly for some schools that are more selective, where they really want a certain level of writing.

Again, if you have, you know, English could be your second language or your third language, and you can still write, you know, well and beautifully, and it won’t matter. However, if If there are, um, visible or glaring or apparent kind of, um, kind of misuses of language or words and et cetera in the essay, it could, um, uh, be detrimental, uh, if, if a school is, is really selective and it’s super competitive and they are seeking students who are writing and speaking and performing at a certain, have a certain command, uh, of the language.

So it really kind of depends and I would definitely need more context to say. Definitively. But, um, you know, they want to see college universities want to make sure that students are successful. So they want to make sure there’s a strong command naturally of English because, you know, especially for those who will be, you know, the courses, this is the English, uh, primarily English speaking kind of university system.

So it is going to be important that there’s a strong command and proficiency of the English language.

Anesha: So to that end, I think a question that’s a good follow up is who should I get to read my essays for editing suggestions?

Aya: Yeah, that’s a great question. Who do you trust? Um, you know, I interview students and they say, well, I didn’t want my parents to read about it because I wrote about them.

So they didn’t want mom and dad or guardian because they’re like, I wrote this essay about my grandma and I don’t want grandma to read about it. So, um, oftentimes people will use teachers in the schools, mentors, college counselors, you know, if you work with us at CollegeAdvisor, we, I, I, I read essays all day, every day now for, for my students, appliances, scholarships, particularly right now.

Um, So yeah, I always say someone you trust, it could be an older sibling, it could be a friend in school, it could be a college counselor, it could be a religious leader, it could be a mentor, maybe you intern with the company, you want the person to read about it, um, or to review it, so. Yeah, it just really depends on who you trust.

Um, and who’s, who’s advice that you respect, um, and who’s advice you think who will give you some good advice. You know, one thing that does happen sometimes is over editing as well. So you also want to keep in mind that by the time you get that final draft, that it is an essay that sounds like you and reflects who you are and not your mom, teacher, coach, parent, whoever, you know, so you do want to make sure that, um, Um, your voice is so prioritized and you can also say, Oh, I’m not going to take that out.

Someone might say, this doesn’t make sense. Take it out. And you can say, I’m going to keep that in. I think this is important for them to know. I want to say this. I want to keep it in. And you have every right to do so as well.

Anesha: This is more of a formatting question. Is it okay to use the first person? And can you switch from first person to third person?

Aya: It’s okay to, it’s yes. So yes to both of those questions. But the switch back and forth, it would just need to make sense. I mean, I have students who switch back and forth all the time, and I know they didn’t mean to. So, and I’m like, no, you gotta figure out what’s happening here. So, yeah, you can, I, my personal statement was written in first person for sure.

Um, and I see some ways that switching makes sense, but it needs to be intentional. You know, so you want to make sure that it’s clear that it’s an intentional decision. Switch and not someone who’s just kind of misusing, um, you know, the tenses. So you just want to be consistent without, with that. Are you writing in present voice as a past voice?

You just need to be very intentional about that and consistent.

Anesha: I would say first person should be the default though. Absolutely. Um, someone said, is it okay if I repeat information in the Common App essay that I already mentioned in short answers?

Aya: Uh, it depends. Um, so the short answers are supplements.

So, Say your personal statement, it’s about, um, your love for, I don’t know, reading. Um, oh, okay. I’m gonna use another example. Say music. So you like to write music, you like to sing music, you’re in a choir, maybe you audition for, uh, I don’t know, America’s Got Talent or something. Um, and then, You want to study music.

So then there’s a personal, there’s a statement, supplemental essay that says, what is your major interest and why? And you say, I want to study music because I love the, and you kind of talk about it. So, of course, those two, you know, there’ll be some overlap there, like you’re going to say that. I do encourage students that, because essays are, they’re such precious real estate, again, they’re the few opportunities where they’re hearing directly from you.

Whenever possible, do try to diversify the topics that you choose to write about. Because you definitely want to show them a different side. So if you say you want to study computer science, um, so you write about that in that supplemental essay about why you want to study computer science. But then that personal statement is all about music and it shows that you’re also creative and that you like to create music even though you want to study computer science.

So, I say, whenever possible, try to diversify the topics that you write about. You don’t want to keep repeating yourself because you will also have, you know, so in addition to, of course, your statement, they’ll also have your extracurricular activities from your activities list where you will talk about and showcase your interest there.

Um, you have college counselors or teachers who will write letters of recommendation that might also talk about. Some leadership and activism and etc. Um, you might have an interview. Not all schools require them, but there also may be an interview where you can talk about those things. So there’s going to be a lot of, uh, places where you talk about interest, uh, in various ways of application.

So whatever possible, when you do have that precious writing real estate, I encourage students to think about how they can talk about some of the, how multifaceted they are and talk about some of the more, uh, kind of, uh, different areas of their life to really paint the school as much as they can, of course, this full picture of who they are.

Anesha: This is an interesting question going back to the, who should you get to edit essays? So someone said, should we get various amounts of opinions from different people or should you keep it to like a small few students, a small, small few number of folks that you’re getting feedback from?

Aya: Well, I mean, I always think, you know, it could be a small few, it could be a village, it could be one person that you just work with, you know, and edit it.

I mean, the thing is you, What you want to do is you just want to reach a point where you say, I’m confident as I say this. This is what I want. What I want to communicate to the admissions office or the committees is I can see it clearly here that this feels like my voice is something I’m proud of. And so that that’s what matters.

So, it’s not the number of people. I don’t think you need to send it around to everybody in your school. And especially if it’s a personal essay, some students don’t feel comfortable doing that either. And I think. You don’t have to do that. So you can work with one person for a few rounds and that can be it.

So you don’t need 10, 000 people, you know, just how many ever people you feel comfortable or think, you know, maybe you want a second opinion. If, you know, Dr. Johnson said something and you like, maybe you didn’t agree with Dr. Johnson. So you ask, you know, you know, Dr. Joyce and Dr. Joyce, you know, agrees with, and you’re like, Oh, okay.

So maybe that, that, that opinion, maybe I, you know, That was something I could appreciate. So I don’t think the number matters. It’s about, again, who you trust, who’s advice you find meaningful, and then when you feel ready to say this is the, this is the statement.

Anesha: I would push back about on that a little just because I have students who fish.

They just keep asking different people to read their essay until someone says this is perfect. And so it’s sort of like they take no feedback into consideration. They just keep fishing for whomever is going to tell them that they don’t need it. Yeah. So I like for that, I would say to try to keep the number smaller.

But I think yes, I go to whoever’s opinion you value, but also make sure you’re integrating their opinion or being thoughtful about the feedback that you’re getting and not just kind of looking for someone to say you don’t have to do anything or what you’re doing is great. But yeah, okay, so someone, this is, we kind of touched on this a little bit, but I’m going to ask it again.

Should we include some of our background in life as to who we are, would that make our essay more unique to us? And a compliment to that is, do you recommend writing about personal experiences as a minority, such as sexism or racism in certain spaces?

Aya: Um, I recommend writing about that if you feel like You want to write about it.

You know, I, I can’t say if you find, if there’s an experience that you had that you felt was, um, an affront to your kind of racial identity or your gender identity or sexual orientation, and you found that it was meaningful, um, and you’ve motivated you and it’s something that you feel like tells an important story, then write about it.

Right about it. Again, that it’s a personal decision. So should you write about personal experiences? Yes, it is a personal statement. Um, and I think sometimes people think personal, meaning like you have to talk about that, like the most hard, um, disruptive, painful memory you have. A personal statement could be your, uh, experience.

Experience of you work in the McDonald’s drive through and customers yelling at you or you forgetting somebody’s fries. That’s a personal statement. That’s a personal experience. It can also be about a time that you have to relocate because you know, your, your family’s home flooded. Um, and it, and it forced you to move to a, a different state.

And in a different place and you, you have to experience what it was like to be, you know, a Brown person living in, you know, Wyoming or something that that’s personal too. So it’s really up to you. And again, think about what you want to write about. Like why ask yourself, why would this story about sexism be important to tell?

Why was this, this story of what I experienced important? What do I want to, what do I want this to say about me and who I am? What do I want this to communicate to the admissions office? Think less about like, is this something they want to. Read. No. Is this something you want to write? So prioritize that.

Anesha: Um, when given a choice to choose the topic, what would you recommend?

Aya: You know, uh, just choose the top. I mean, so the common application they have was six prompts and then choose your own. What I see is oftentimes students might, they, they might sort of be answering one of the questions, but they like feel like he doesn’t answer directly.

So they just choose your own topic. It really doesn’t matter. It honestly does not matter. So if you feel like the essay you want to tell fits into one of the buckets. But if you feel like it’s a little, it colors outside the lines, choose your own topic. It’s fine.

Anesha: My only advice with choosing your own topic is still making sure you’re talking, you’re answering a question, even if it’s not one of the questions that are posed, that you’re still staying on a topic and that it’s clear.

And that choose your own topic doesn’t mean talk about five different things that don’t fall into one topic. Um, so still pick a topic that you’re focusing on. Um, one student asked, and it seems like folks are, you know, trying to figure out strategies. So. Should I have only one personal essay? Is it okay to use the same essay for two different college applications if they have similar prompts?

Aya: Well, for the personal, so the common application, um, Coalition app and some of the other platforms, you’re submitting one personal statement to all the schools. So whatever personal statement you write about, whether it’s, you know, your favorite pasta or a hardship, or your experience with racism. One personal statement is going to go to all 15 schools that you apply to.

So one. Now the supplemental essays will be school specific. So when you submit it to Dartmouth, Dartmouth only reads those essays. So if you, if they, if Dartmouth and University of Michigan and Macalister College and Georgia Tech have a similar supplemental essay prop, I strongly encourage you to reuse.

That’s why we encourage students to have one place where everything is aggregated so you can pick and pull. You don’t have to start at zero every single time you write a supplemental essay if those questions are similar. You also see students use essay, go back and use stuff from personal statements and supplemental essays for scholarship applications.

You don’t have to reinvent the, reinvent the wheel. Use what you’ve already written. Those essays are going to be scholarly.

So, yeah, I definitely, uh, you can reuse those essays, but remember you’re submitting one college person statement and that statement goes to all the schools on your, in your profile and common app.

Anesha: Yeah. Someone was asking earlier about organization. Is it okay to like write all the essays in one place?

Yes. Write all your essays in one place, hold them there. All right. And then. To I guess point, you can pick and choose which ones you want to throw in and submit into the application and stay organized that way. Um, I guess, final question. What student asked? Are there any no, no topics? Are there no, no essays that you should absolutely be avoiding?

Aya: I mean, I will ask a student what comes to mind because yes, the answer is yes. I mean, I think about, you know what? Your membership in a hate group. Don’t write about that red flag. They might call the authorities, uh, essays about violence. Afflicted upon other people essays that talk about if you lack integrity, or you talk about cheating, or you talk about, you know, this topics that I don’t think those would be appropriate.

Also, I encourage all the students and this is the work that I do to be mindful of what you share with whom you’re sharing. What you might gain and what you stand to lose. So even topics that are my personal. So if you experience some type of violence yourself, think about that. They’re humans reading these essays most of the time and that they might feel concerned and might feel compelled to reach out to a counselor or they might be, uh, they might be mandated reporters.

So you just want to be mindful about what you share. Um, but of course, just avoid writing, you know, um, aligning yourself with, you know, nefarious figures or anything that might concern, um, the average person. I don’t know, Aneesha, if you have any.

Anesha: Yeah, no, yeah, that’s all right. That was a hard one to end on.

But yeah, I think just writing, I love what you just said about just writing. For understanding your audience and writing for who you are and not feeling like you don’t have to share everything and you shouldn’t share things that you’re uncomfortable sharing. I do think to the point of, like, in the past, we will think they have to kind of have have a bleeding heart type of essay, right?

About what you want to write about and if it reflects who you are. And usually, if you do that, I think you’re going to avoid some of these more complex or negative topics that might come up. Um, uh, so yeah, and anything that is super personal, just be prepared to talk about how you go over a comment as a challenge and don’t just disclose for the sake of disclosing.

Um, but yeah, we will have to end it there. Thank you so much Aya for sharing your, uh, experience as always and your expertise. I really, really appreciate it. Um, and thank you everyone for coming out tonight. We hope that you gained some tips and strategies for brainstorming your college essays. We also hope that you will join us for our future webinars this month.

Tomorrow we’ll have an overview on merit scholarships on March 20th. We will share some strategies on decoding the ACT and SAT, and we will end the month with a session with staying organized for the college application process on March 22nd. So we hope to see you soon, but until then, take care and have a great evening, everybody.

Thanks, Aya again. Have a good one.

Aya: Bye,

Anesha: everyone.