UNIT 2 - The College Essay

Enduring Understandings:
  • A college essay must capture who you are.
  • Exceptional college essays are unique, a work only you could produce.
  • Exceptional college essays show the reader with specific captured moments who the writer is.
  • Participating in peer review, teacher conferences and writing workshop are important components of the writing process.

Essential Questions:
  • What is the purpose of the college essay?
  • What makes a college application essay exceptional?
  • What are effective strategies and rhetorical strategies for writing this essay?
  • How is the writing process used when writing the college essay?
  • How can a writer show rather than tell in an essay?
  • How does the college essay reveal something about you beyond the other components of the application?

  • Read college application essay examples on college websites, College Board, Teen Ink. Evaluate the essays and share your evaluations and the essays with your classmates.
  • View videos by college admissions officers and investigative journalists about the college application and the essay.
  • Actively read and annotate articles on college admissions.
  • Participate in the Public Interview and other topic idea exercises.
  • Participate in peer review, peer conferencing, teacher student conference, whole class writing workshops, turnitin peer editing
  • Revise essays for publication and class read a round.

Common Assessment:
  • Revised College Essay

Articles on College Essays:
1. NBC News "Dreading Writing your College Application Essay? Tips From the Pros" by Allison Slater Tate, July 26, 2016

2. "7 Proven Tips for Successful College Application Essays" - Money Magazine by Stephanie Kline Wassink, August 6, 2016

3. Business Insider "I Was an Ivy League Admission's Officer " Dec 8, 2015

4. Writing the Right College Essay- Wall Street Journal

5. Big Future College Essays


7. 5 Horrible Essay Topics

8. How to Write the perfect college essay for the common app 2013-14 (limit 650 words- enforced)

9. Going Beyond Cliche: How to Write a Great College Essay

10. New York Times Choice article "Stuck on the Essay-Try writing a letter to an Imaginary roommate" on finding a topic for the college essay

11.What 'Mundane Moments' from your life might make great essay material?

12. Daily Beast: The College Essay- How to Write a Winning Ivy League Essay

13. Boston University: Write an Essay that Stands Out

14. How To Write Your College Essay- video

15. Carleton College Essay Tips

16. Common Application Essay -Tips for the Personal Essay Options on the Common Application

17. The College Admissions Essay: Finding a Topic

18. Advice on Whittling your Admissions Essay

19. College Application Essays as Haiku? For Some, 500 words aren't Enough

20. Juniors: In the Quiet of Summer, Start Your Essays

21. Tip Sheet: An Admissions Dean Offers Advice on Writing a College Essay

22. Wellesley College- Essay Tips

23. Quirky Essays A Window to Future SuccessSeven Worst Types of College Essays- a slideshow

24. Conquering the College Essay

25. The Last and Definitive Word on Writing The Common Application Essay

26. 10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay

27. Stanford Magazine: First Lines from Application Essays

28. Why Parents Should Butt Out of College Essays:

College Essays That Worked & Essays That Impressed the Colleges:
Hamilton College: Essays That Worked

Connecticut College: Essays That Worked

John Hopkins University Essays That Worked

Past Essays- Tufts

First Lines from Stanford University essays

Teen Ink College Essays

NPR chose two essays from Tufts Students

Admissions Essays - NPR

Listen to Ambar read her college essay.

Listen to Leah read her college essay.

Listen to Richard read his college essay.

Listen to Clayton read his college essay.

Listen to Leo read his college essay.

Still Searching for an Essay Topic? Try these Resources/Exercises: