Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: Tackling the Admissions Essay.

Having a private writing coach to hold your hand through the college application process is incredibly beneficial, but for a lot of students, it can be cost-prohibitive. There are a plethora of books out there on how to write the college admissions essay and some of them are good enough to be the second-best thing to having your own writing coach. Admissions Essay Boot Camp by Ashley Wellington is one of those books.

Wellington is the owner of Mint Tutors, and is a graduate of Princeton University and St. Andrew's University in Scotland. Her Ivy League training and her experience working for high-end tutoring services come together in this great book that packs a ton of useful information in a slim volume that is easy to read. 

As I always tell my students, the college essay is the thing that will make you stand out. Admissions counsellors read hundreds of essays from students that have nearly identical transcripts, so the essays themselves help admissions counsellors separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. All other things being equal, a strong essay can make or break an admissions decision. An good essay is even more important when your academic history is not stellar. I was not the strongest student, my SAT scores were respectable and I was not a high achiever by any means but  my essay was good enough to overcome those shortcomings and get me into my first choice school. (By the way, all this advice holds even if you aren't aiming for an elite college!) 

What students will find useful in this book: 
  1. Wellington describes general student archetypes, and identifies the challenges of each when it comes to the essay. It is important to remember that these are general descriptions. Many students will find overlap in which archetype best describes them, so don't be discouraged if you don't fit perfectly into one or the other. 
  2. A good writing coach will have a battery of questions for students to answer about themselves, to kick off the brainstorming process and the questions presented here will get students off to a good start. 
  3. Wellington offers a concrete example of a real student she tutored, and walks readers through the free write process, the outline and the draft. She also shares different types of essays that best fit the student archetypes described in the first chapter. The analysis of what makes each essay work (and not work) is particularly useful. 
{I recieved a copy of this book for review from Blogging For Books. All links are affiliate links.}