Below please find some common Q & A - many common questions are also addressed among the many pages on this website.
How do I work with collegeessaydoctor.com?
Simple. Please email email@example.com
with your query, basic info about yourself, and we will get back to you shortly.
When should I get started with my college app essays?
As soon and as early as possible. Do
not delay, or you will pay the price in anxiety, stress, and (more than likely) poor performance.
By the spring of junior
year, you should have compiled a provisional list of colleges you wish to apply to, ranging from REACH (hard for you to get
in) to TARGET (you are competitive) to SAFETY (promising based on HS scores, performance, etc
Also by spring, you should
open an account with the Common Application and see what the next year's essay topics will be (They have not changed much over the last several years.) Begin to think
about them. Brainstorm, take notes — don’t suffocate the Muse, but also don’t feel you have to commit to
a topic just yet. Be flexible.
By early summer, you should begin writing in earnest. The Main Essay, to do it right,
takes an extraordinary amount of time and work. Gigantic amounts.
By late summer, you should have finished (or come
very close to finishing) the Common App Main Essay and Supplementals for your Reach and Target schools. Safety schools will
follow next, often with fewer requirements.
By early fall, as you go back to senior year and plunge into your last important
semester, you should have the heavy lifting behind you so you can concentrate on exams, activities, and grades.
as early as you see fit -- but do not rush to submit if your essays are not ready. As any baker will tell you, don't pull
a cake out of the oven before it is done. Sending off half-baked essays will get you nothing but a fully-baked rejection.
Take your time, do your work thoroughly, and submit on time and you will have given your essays your best shot.
you will have counselors, teachers, parents, siblings, and friends reading and commenting on your work. For the extra insight of a professional, you might also consider that. Not strictly necessary for the superb and diligent student.
A final note: for younger students, you can get
started years ahead of time by learning to read and write well. Read a ton (of quality literature) and start writing
journals, stories, essays, comics, poetry, songs—anything at all. Get versed in the word, and so when the time comes,
you will be more skillful and confident than most of your competition. And the road to mastery, while definitely challenging,
is filled with innumerable pleasures.
Q. Can I reuse the same application essay for multiple schools and multiple applications?
application essays (Common App Main, supplementals), the answer is definitely yes, with some caution. The Common App main
essay is by definition used for multiple colleges, so reuse is not an issue at all. It is only regarding supplementals that
you need to be careful.
Rarely will you recycle an essay 100% into a new application for a number of reasons: (1) slightly
different prompt calling for slightly different content; (2) word count differences (School A may grant 500 words, but School
B only 250, so you will have to cut for School B); (3) required customization: you can’t reuse your “Why I Love
UC Boulder” essay for “Why I Love LSU” because they are different schools in wildly different states: one
permits mountain climbing, the other bayou fishing. Don’t mix them up. :)
For related content, see this
page: Tips - Supplementals
Q. Is it okay to start your common app essay with a quote if it’s from a person who isn’t famous, like
a personal friend?
As perhaps the most-cited anonymous genius of all time said long ago, “IT
There are no hard and fast rules about how to open an essay, or who to quote It can be your humble friend,
it can be Emily Dickenson, it can be the Buddha. It can be anyone. The quote itself is more important than the source.
whether to quote totally depends on whether doing so is appropriate and adds value to the essay. Opening with a quote, any
quote, is not a great idea if the student is simply adhering to some formula as if it is a magic mantra. It isn’t. There
are no magic formulas. Anyone who tells you so is selling snake oil.
There is only What Works—and what
works totally depends on the situation; the best openings—and essays—will be thoughtfully and patiently
customized, completely obedient to the content and the moment—and never to some preconceived template. That’s
the difference between art and dross.
Q. What should I do if my parents are forcing
me to go to college even though I don’t want to?
What should I do if my parents are forcing me to go to college even though I don’t want to? I got a full tuition grant
and won’t be taking any loans, but I still think it’s a waste of my time. I can literally learn any “major”
I am going to take this question at face value, as if sincerely asked and offered. There may be a
trolling hook in here somewhere, but let’s assume there’s an authentically vexed 18-year-old behind the question.
questions for you:
- If you are getting a full tuition grant and no loans, why would you not go?
For some other young person with no goals, no passion, no money, and facing down $250K in future debt, having healthy doubts
about college (and dead-end majors) would be quite smart. Why become a debt-flogged serf-donkey? But in your case it would
be literally costing you nothing—except perhaps the opportunity cost of the time, which brings us to the next question:
not at college, what will you be doing that is so important and vitally time sensitive that it cannot wait
a few more years? (If your answer is “to be Bill Gates,” the world’s most successful dropout, do you also
have a business idea as good as his (i.e., Microsoft), and are you willing to work as hard as he did (24/7/365.25/40)? And
remember too that the chances of becoming “Bill Gates” are about 1 in 8 billion—even less, actually, because
there is only one Bill Gates, and that spot is already taken. If the failsafe way to success was to drop out of college, no
one would go in the first place.
- Why do you consider college “a waste of time”? There
may be indeed much time wasted, but that is usually wasted by the party animals, the navel-gazers, and the goof-offs. Hard
workers can get a lot out of college. They can learn a great deal, train their minds, and become a little more sophisticated
in their thinking. (True, they can also become intolerably smug ideologues and sophists, but that’s another story.)
If you wish to bypass academia and go right to work at a practical trade instead (e.g., electrician, plumbing, carpentry,
metalworking, automotive, etc.), by all means do it: work hard, master that trade, and you will more than likely be employed
for life. Go for it if that’s the road for you.
- Are you wary of the 21st century campus atmosphere,
widely remarked upon by some conservative commentators as leftist-activist indoctrination? If so, search for schools that
are more in line with your personal thinking (e.g., Hillsdale College), while also remaining open to hearing opposing ideas,
so you can understand them and better defend and/or revise your own position. Furthermore, steer away from majors that you
suspect may have become tedious reductionist propaganda and steer towards studies that are more substantive and rigorous in
their training—which these days tends to be STEM.
- What is your learning/career plan? While
it is true that you can find truly great stuff on Google, Youtube, podcasts, and the good old public library, that is not
really a substitute for a vigorous college experience (i.e., YouTube doesn’t make you write 40-page term papers)—and
it won’t lead to any accreditation, degrees, jobs, or contacts. While you might be able to learn “a good part
of a major on Google,” depending on what that major is, you won’t actually “be that major” in
any way that a potential employer will respect. Vast swaths of the professional world (engineering, medicine,
law, finance, etc.) will be closed to you because of the lack of degrees—perhaps you will make up for it with
your entrepreneurial prowess, your coding brilliance, or your guerrilla filmmaking, but perhaps you will not.
you have a fallback plan, a skill, a Plan B? When I was in college, a professor advised me that if I was interested,
say, in being a writer, I would do well to finish up school and then get a manual trade that would not involve words and that
would not exhaust my mind. For instance, I could go put up sheetrock or work as a landscape architect—something outdoors—and
not sit behind a desk working with words because I’d be depleting the very aquifer that I would need to tap for writing.
Once sucked dry by the day job, there’d be nothing left at night. He had a good point. But notice his advice was to
learn a skill that would pay the bills and protect the mental space needed for artistic activity. (What he didn’t seem
to account for was physical exhaustion: after 12 hours digging in arborvitae, the verbal aquifer might be full, but the body
would pass out in blistered and sunburned exhaustion. Live and learn… ;)
- Have you considered deferring?
I am writing this response in the 2nd year of the covid pandemic (Aug 2021), and university life is a dismal shell of its
former self. Most students are at home, or in half-empty colleges, taking classes via Zoom, and missing out on the whole social
element of college. Right now is a good time to defer or stay away from college—if you can maintain a spot or be confident
of applying with some measure of success when this pandemic is behind us (and let’s hope that happens soon). If you
can defer, which you invariably can, you can apply, placate your folks, perhaps secure your funding (triple check
that), and take another year at being a brilliant independent success and learning more about life—and its persistent
difficulties. You can go your own way, but don’t think it will be easy.