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Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay

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Telling Your Story to Colleges
What Excellent College Essays Have in Common
Compiled By: Ardis Bazyn

If you regularly meet with your advisor, you can easily prevent this from happening! At the very least, just go to one game. Look into the programs your school offers and, at the very least, consider the opportunities given. Being young is all about changing the world and making your voice matter — now is the time to be heard. Utilize campus facilities while you can Most college campuses are full of amazing gyms, pools, museums, computer labs and all other kinds of neat buildings that students are able to access.

Find out what your school has to offer and start exploring! Some also have programs for books and more. Find out what your school offers to current students so you can take advantage of whatever benefits come with your tuition. Every semester, Fastweb helps thousands of students pay for school by matching them to scholarships, grants, and internships, for which they actually qualify. Join today to get matched to scholarships or internships for you!

Details also help us visualize the emotions of the people in the scene. Finally, the detail of actual speech makes the scene pop. Instead of writing that the other guy asked him to unlock the van, Stephen has the guy actually say his own words in a way that sounds like a teenager talking. They could also mean any number of things—violence, abandonment, poverty, mental instability.

Obviously, knowing how to clean burning oil is not high on the list of things every 9-year-old needs to know. To emphasize this, Stephen uses sarcasm by bringing up a situation that is clearly over-the-top: The humor also feels relaxed. This helps keep the tone meaningful and serious rather than flippant. There's been an oil spill! This connection of past experience to current maturity and self-knowledge is a key element in all successful personal essays.

Even the best essays aren't perfect, and even the world's greatest writers will tell you that writing is never "finished"—just "due. But using too many of these ready-made expressions runs the risk of clouding out your own voice and replacing it with something expected and boring. Stephen's first example breaking into the van in Laredo is a great illustration of being resourceful in an unexpected situation. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service.

We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. I have always loved riding in cars. After a long day in first grade, I used to fall asleep to the engine purring in my mother's Honda Odyssey, even though it was only a 5-minute drive home. As I grew, and graduated into the shotgun seat, it became natural and enjoyable to look out the window.

Seeing my world passing by through that smudged glass, I would daydream what I could do with it. In elementary school, I already knew my career path: I was going to be Emperor of the World. While I sat in the car and watched the miles pass by, I developed the plan for my empire.

I reasoned that, for the world to run smoothly, it would have to look presentable. I would assign people, aptly named Fixer-Uppers, to fix everything that needed fixing. That old man down the street with chipping paint on his house would have a fresh coat in no time. The boy who accidentally tossed his Frisbee onto the roof of the school would get it back. The big pothole on Elm Street that my mother managed to hit every single day on the way to school would be filled-in.

It made perfect sense! All the people that didn't have a job could be Fixer-Uppers. I was like a ten-year-old FDR. Seven years down the road, I still take a second glance at the sidewalk cracks and think of my Fixer-Uppers, but now I'm doing so from the driver's seat. As much as I would enjoy it, I now accept that I won't become Emperor of the World, and that the Fixer-Uppers will have to remain in my car ride imaginings.

I always pictured a Fixer-Upper as a smiling man in an orange T-Shirt. Maybe instead, a Fixer-Upper could be a tall girl with a deep love for Yankee Candles. Maybe it could be me. Bridget the Fixer-Upper will be slightly different than the imaginary one who paints houses and fetches Frisbees. I was lucky enough to discover what I am passionate about when I was a freshman in high school.

On my first day, I learned that it was for developmentally-disabled students. To be honest, I was really nervous. I hadn't had too much interaction with special needs students before, and wasn't sure how to handle myself around them. Long story short, I got hooked. Three years have passed helping out in APE and eventually becoming a teacher in the Applied Behavior Analysis summer program.

I love working with the students and watching them progress. When senior year arrived, college meetings began, and my counselor asked me what I wanted to do for a career, I didn't say Emperor of the World. Instead, I told him I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst.

A BCBA helps develop learning plans for students with autism and other disabilities. Basically, I would get to do what I love for the rest of my life. He laughed and told me that it was a nice change that a seventeen-year-old knew so specifically what she wanted to do. I smiled, thanked him, and left. But it occurred to me that, while my desired occupation was decided, my true goal in life was still to become a Fixer-Upper. I'll do one thing during the day, then spend my off-hours helping people where I can.

Instead of flying like Sue, though, I'll opt for a nice performance automobile. My childhood self would appreciate that. Bridget takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but her essay is just as detailed and engaging. Let's go through some of the strengths of her essay.

The essay is arranged chronologically. Bridget starts each paragraph with a clear signpost of where we are in time:. I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. It helps that the metaphor is a very clear one: Every childhood Fixer-Upper ever. Ask your parents to explain the back row to you. This essay uses many techniques that make Bridget sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know her.

The second technique is the way Bridget coins her own terms, carrying them through the whole essay. It would be easy enough to simply describe the people she imagined in childhood as helpers or assistants, and to simply say that as a child she wanted to rule the world. The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure. Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences.

Advertising in campus newsletters, local newspapers and bulletin boards often will glean more possibilities. You may choose to have them contact you through a P.

Box number or email address rather than a home phone number. When looking for drivers, mention the destinations to which you need to be driven. Make sure you express how flexible you can or cannot be. Training readers to "clean-up" text that is scanned so your speech synthesizer or Braille note taker can read it to you is helpful. You may clean it up yourself but it is much more time consuming.

Even though it might save you reader hours, most of your assignments are time sensitive and you will be better served by having someone else perform this task.

When you make the initial contact with a possible reader, ask questions about their schedule and the amount of time they have available. This will need to coincide with your schedule well enough for you to complete your work. Let them know that you will want to test their reading skills. You must work with someone you can understand clearly and who can read the material properly.

Some courses require more experience in reading since they may not be the normal reading material of a non-college student. If someone else is paying for the service, make sure you know what the reimbursement policy is and whether it goes directly to the reader or to you.

Also, you may have to pay extra to get a reader you prefer. If you want them to spell difficult words, let them know. Some students like to know when the reader reads a new page, reads a diagram, or whether there are pictures on the page. Instruct your reader about specific items you want to have read and which items can be skipped. At first, you may wish to have a reader read you everything on the page and decide as you go which tables or side notes can be skipped.

If you are not told all that is there, it may be hard to know which might benefit you. When hiring drivers, you will want to make sure they know the area in which you are traveling. Some people read maps well but others do not. Inquire about their driving records, their habits such as smoking or eating while driving if either of these bother you , and anything else you may want to know about them. Make sure they are available the times you may need them.

If you can be flexible, you will have better success. You might want to test them on a short trip first to see if their driving style bothers you. Sometimes other students may work out as drivers especially if you only need one to drive you home on specific weekends. Of course, larger schools might present greater possibilities for hiring. Some consumer organizations, service organizations or civic organizations might have volunteer services.

AARP sometimes has lists of volunteers or people looking for part-time work. Dog Guide handlers face many challenges when working their dogs on college and university campuses.

Dog guides also provide students with many opportunities to enhance travel but often, creative thinking and planning are required to ensure the efficiency of using a guide dog for mobility in these complex environments. Many guide dog schools now provide some campus work for students before graduation, and these schools are also willing to be available for follow-up work on college campuses after graduation.

Colleges and universities are not famous for being organized in recognizable grid patterns like regular city blocks. There are often wide, open areas to be negotiated in order to reach buildings, which are laid out to be aesthetically pleasing rather than easy to find for guide dogs and their handlers. Do not despair though, because college campuses are also full of people walking to class just as you will be, and one of the keys to successful travel is learning to communicate your orientation needs to these fellow students and pedestrians.

Because of the irregular architectural layout of campuses, it is extremely useful to develop a mental map or somewhat accurate spacial image of your campus, which will prepare you for the surprise of ending up in the same place via more than one route. Patterning or walking a route with a fellow student can be just as effective in assisting you and your dog to learn the way from point A to point B.

Make finding places fun for your dog rather than confidence eroding experiences. It is extremely helpful to develop the skills of working your dog while carrying on conversations with others in order to use their voice as a point of reference in your travels with your dog. Establish good guide dog etiquette with your campus mates, while also working with your dog on remaining calm in harness while interacting with the public.

People can be very helpful when traveling on campus and your dog for better or worse is a key factor in relating to the public.

It is much more efficient to accustom your dog to politely and calmly dealing with some attention from the public than it is to train dog lovers not to make eye contact or not to want to pet your dog. You have only one dog to train compared to thousands of students, not to mention the rest of the world out there. If you and your dog become lost or disoriented, take time out for a little petting up, or simply provide a little cheerful encouragement to urge your dog to show you something, anything when nobody is around to assist.

It is easy to become frustrated at these times, but it is vitally important not to do anything which discourages initiative in your dog. Sometimes stopping and quietly talking to or playing with your dog will bring someone to your assistance just when you need one. It is also effective when lost to stand still and look around as a sighted person might when seeking information or assistance.

Campuses can be challenging environments in which to work a dog. However, they also provide invaluable opportunities for honing your travel skills, creative problem solving and perfecting techniques for interacting with and relating to the general public.

Revised September Section of the Rehabilitation Act of Congress passed Section of the Rehabilitation Act of Section , a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability 29 U.

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The Office for Civil Rights in the U. Department of Education enforces regulations implementing Section with respect to programs and activities that receive funding from the Department. The Section regulation applies to all recipients of this funding, including colleges, universities, and postsecondary vocational education and adult education programs. Failure by these higher education schools to provide auxiliary aids to students with disabilities that results in a denial of a program benefit is discriminatory and prohibited by Section The Department enforces Title II in public colleges, universities, and graduate and professional schools.

The requirements regarding the provision of auxiliary aids and services in higher education institutions described in the Section regulation are generally included in the general nondiscrimination provisions of the Title II regulation.

Postsecondary School Provision of Auxiliary Aids The Section regulation contains the following requirement relating to a postsecondary school's obligation to provide auxiliary aids to qualified students who have disabilities: The Title II regulation states: A public entity shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.

It is, therefore, the school's responsibility to provide these auxiliary aids and services in a timely manner to ensure effective participation by Students with disabilities. If students are being evaluated to determine their eligibility under Section or the ADA, the recipient must provide auxiliary aids in the interim. A postsecondary student with a disability who is in need of auxiliary aids is obligated to provide notice of the nature of the disabling condition to the college and to assist it in identifying appropriate and effective auxiliary aids.

In elementary and secondary schools, teachers and school specialists may have arranged support services for students with disabilities. However, in postsecondary schools, the students themselves must identify the need for an auxiliary aid and give adequate notice of the need.

The student's notification should be provided to the appropriate representative of the college who, depending upon the nature and scope of the request, could be the school's Section or ADA coordinator, an appropriate dean, a faculty advisor, or a professor.

Unlike elementary or secondary schools, colleges may ask the student, in response to a request for auxiliary aids, to provide supporting diagnostic test results and professional prescriptions for auxiliary aids. A college also may obtain its own professional determination of whether specific requested auxiliary aids are necessary.

Some of the various types of auxiliary aids and services may include: Technological advances in electronics have improved vastly participation by students with disabilities in educational activities. Colleges are not required to provide the most sophisticated auxiliary aids available; however, the aids provided must effectively meet the needs of a student with a disability.

An institution has flexibility in choosing the specific aid or service it provides to the student, as long as the aid or service selected is effective. These aids should be selected after consultation with the student who will use them.

No aid or service will be useful unless it is successful in equalizing the opportunity for a particular student with a disability to participate in the education program or activity.

Not all students with a similar disability benefit equally from an identical auxiliary aid or service. The regulation refers to this complex issue of effectiveness in several sections, including: Auxiliary aids may include taped texts, interpreters or other effective methods of making orally delivered materials available to students with hearing impairments, readers in libraries for students with visual impairments, classroom equipment adapted for use by students with manual impairments, and other similar services and actions.

There are other references to effectiveness in the general provisions of the Section regulation which state, in part, that a recipient may not: Provide a qualified handicapped person with an aid, benefit, or service that is not as effective as that provided to others; or Provide different or separate aid, benefits, or services to handicapped persons or to any class of handicapped persons unless such action is necessary to provide qualified handicapped persons with aid, benefits, or services that are as effective as those provided to others.

The Title II regulation contains comparable provisions. The Section regulation also states: The institution must analyze the appropriateness of an aid or service in its specific context.

For example, the type of assistance needed in a classroom by a student who is hearing-impaired may vary, depending upon whether the format is a large lecture hall or a seminar.

With the one-way communication of a lecture, the service of a notetaker may be adequate, but in the two-way communication of a seminar, an interpreter may be needed.

College officials also should be aware that in determining what types of auxiliary aids and services are necessary under Title II of the ADA, the institution must give primary consideration to the requests of individuals with disabilities.

Postsecondary schools receiving federal financial assistance must provide effective auxiliary aids to students who are disabled. If an aid is necessary for classroom or other appropriate nonpersonal use, the institution must make it available, unless provision of the aid would cause undue burden. A student with a disability may not be required to pay part or all of the costs of that aid or service. An institution may not limit what it spends for auxiliary aids or services or refuse to provide auxiliary aids because it believes that other providers of these services exist, or condition its provision of auxiliary aids on availability of funds.

In many cases, an institution may meet its obligation to provide auxiliary aids by assisting the student in obtaining the aid or obtaining reimbursement for the cost of an aid from an outside agency or organization, such as a state rehabilitation agency or a private charitable organization.

However, the institution remains responsible for providing the aid. An issue that is often misunderstood by postsecondary officials and students is the provision of personal aids and services. Personal aids and services, including help in bathing, dressing, or other personal care, are not required to be provided by postsecondary institutions.

The Section regulation states: Recipients need not provide attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature. In order to ensure that students with disabilities are given a free appropriate public education, local education agencies are required to provide many services and aids of a personal nature to students with disabilities when they are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools.

However, once students with disabilities graduate from a high school program or its equivalent, education institutions are no longer required to provide aids, devices, or services of a personal nature. Postsecondary schools do not have to provide personal services relating to certain individual academic activities.

Personal attendants and individually prescribed devices are the responsibility of the student who has a disability and not of the institution. For example, readers may be provided for classroom use but institutions are not required to provide readers for personal use or for help during individual study time. What are a college's obligations to provide auxiliary aids for library study? Students with disabilities must have the appropriate auxiliary aids needed to locate and obtain library resources.

The college library's basic index of holdings whether formatted on-line or on index cards must be accessible.

For example, a screen and keyboard or card file must be placed within reach of a student using a wheelchair. If a Braille index of holdings is not available for blind students, readers must be provided for necessary assistance. Articles and materials that are library holdings and are required for course work must be accessible to all students enrolled in that course. This means that if material is required for the class, then its text must be read for a blind student or provided in Braille or on tape.

A student's actual study time and use of these articles are considered personal study time and the institution has no further obligation to provide additional auxiliary aids. What if an instructor objects to the use of an auxiliary or personal aid?

Sometimes postsecondary instructors may not be familiar with Section or ADA requirements regarding the use of an auxiliary or personal aid in their classrooms. Most often, questions arise when a student uses a tape recorder. College teachers may believe recording lectures is an infringement upon their own or other students' academic freedom, or constitutes copyright violation. The instructor may not forbid a student's use of an aid if that prohibition limits the student's participation in the school program.

A recipient may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of dog guides in campus buildings that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity. In order to allow a student with a disability the use of an effective aid and, at the same time, protect the instructor, the institution may require the student to sign an agreement so as not to infringe on a potential copyright or to limit freedom of speech.

What if students with disabilities require auxiliary aids during an examination? A student may need an auxiliary aid or service in order to successfully complete a course exam.

This may mean that a student be allowed to give oral rather than written answers. It also may be possible for a student to present a tape containing the oral examination response. A test should ultimately measure a student's achievements and not the extent of the disability. Can postsecondary institutions treat a foreign student with disabilities who needs auxiliary aids differently than American students?

No, an institution may not treat a foreign student differently. A postsecondary institution must provide to a foreign student with a disability the same type of auxiliary aids and services it would provide to an American student with a disability. Section and the ADA require that the provision of services be based on a student's disability and not on such other criteria as nationality.

Are institutions responsible for providing auxiliary services to disabled students in filling out financial aid and student employment applications, or other forms of necessary paperwork?

Yes, an institution must provide services to disabled students who may need assistance in filling out aid applications or other forms. If the student requesting assistance is still in the process of being evaluated to determine eligibility for an auxiliary aid or service, help with this paperwork by the institution is mandated in the interim.

Does a postsecondary institution have to provide auxiliary aids and services for a nondegree student? Yes, students with disabilities who are auditing classes or who otherwise are not working for a degree must be provided auxiliary aids and services to the same extent as students who are in a degree-granting program. For more information on Section and the ADA and their application to auxiliary aids and services for disabled students in postsecondary schools, or to obtain additional assistance, see the list of OCR's 12 enforcement offices containing the address and telephone number for the office that serves your area, or call The California Council of the Blind and its parent organization, the American Council of the Blind are great sources for finding mentors, blindness related resources, scholarship information, and more.

The California Council of the Blind has a website with information about the various local chapters, advocacy assistance, employment loans, emergency grants, and other helpful links. The American Council of the Blind also has scholarship information, helpful listservs, and numerous resource links on its website: To contact the California Council of the Blind by phone, call: To contact ACB by phone, call: Eastern or ACB also has an Internet radio site that offers programming for a variety of audiences, some live shows and some recorded.

Check out the various options on: Each of these organizations has regular publications for members and other interested persons. Please contact the respective organization for more information on subscribing to these publications in your format of choice.

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A Guide to a Successful College Experience; Some applications have an essay or interview requirement. Many colleges may waive the interview if you live a great distance from the campus, but it is always best if you can visit the campus anyway. Be as clear as possible when you apply regarding the major(s) in which you are interested. Essays - largest database of quality sample essays and research papers on First College Experience.