family connection

tip: Focusing on the big picture can be tough, but the Game Plan and Résumé tools will help you explore all your options. And you can organize life experiences and personal essay notes in the Journal tool.

Word Count: Writing Basics for College & Beyond

icon “Use your personal essay to shine a light on something that sets you apart. Do you volunteer at a food pantry, act in community theater, or help care for an older relative? Describe what you’re doing—and why.”
—Dr. William A. Edmonds, dean of admissions at California University of Pennsylvania

Much of college is a numbers game—GPA, test scores, rankings. So when you get the chance to tell your story in your own words, choose carefully and make them count!

Writing a Résumé...

Think you don’t need a résumé? Think again! College résumés are a great way to organize and display your accomplishments, state your plans for the future, and make yourself stand out for college admins sorting through dozens of applications.
Don’t clutter this space with information that can be found on your transcripts. Stick to the basics for each school you’ve attended:

Name of school
  • City and state.
  • Years/grades attended.
  • Special training.
Work experience comes in all different shapes and sizes. Strong examples include:

  • Part-time jobs.
  • Community service projects.
  • Religious group activities.
  • Volunteer work.
Use this spot to highlight involvement in special projects and any resulting recognition:

  • Athletic involvement.
  • Honor societies.
  • Artistic or musical abilities.
  • Honor roll.
  • Elected positions (especially leadership roles).
  • Competitive awards.
  • Scholarships.
On a professional résumé, references are usually noted as “Available upon request,” but if your prospective college requires them, indicate that with “See additional materials.”

5 Fab Rules of Essay Writing

Should your essay be fresh and original? Of course! But certain elements of the process do come standard. Consider these the 5 Fs of essay writing…

  • Flow. You’ve brainstormed to find your topic. Now it’s time to put structure and grammar on hold and just start writing!
  • Frame. Your essay should consist of three parts: intro, body, and conclusion. Remember, a hooky intro is everything!
  • Focus. Maintain an active voice, and be sure that every part of your story supports your thesis.
  • Frankness. What are you looking for in a college? A great campus vibe? Famous alumni? Extracurricular opportunities? Let those passions shine!
  • Feedback. Friends, classmates, and teachers can all double as editors, helping you spot mistakes that you may have overlooked.

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