The role of the essay in the college application

Nationally recognized college counselor, Danny Ruderman, explains the role of the essay in college applications and gives tips on how to best write it
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The role of the essay in the college application

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When thinking about the college essay as a parent, the first thing that you should know, it is the scariest thing in the entire application process for a student, because a student has heard or believes that everything rides on this, that if you don’t have an essay that makes the admission’s person cry, you’re not going to get accepted, and that is not the case. The truth is, is that an essay is important because it allows a student to look like a human being, we say it completes the application. They already know what your grades are, and your recommendations from your teachers are and your test scores are; what we don’t know is your passion. We don’t know what your interests are, we don’t know the challenges you faced, so the essay can really fill out who you are. The best way to do that, and the easiest way to write an essay is simply this - Tell a story. It’s not about listing everything you've done in high school, it’s about telling that one time when your water polo coach yelled at you and threw you off the team because you asked for extra time to study, and how you dealt with that situation. In the telling of that story, you’re going to learn my maturity level, how I handle situations. It doesn't have to be everything about your personality, it only has to be one thing that gives me insight; and by the way, that was my essay, question? That’s how I answered the essay. I just told that story, how I handle that situation, and it showed you a side of my personality that you wouldn't have found by looking at the rest of the application.
TEEN, Education, Applying to College

Nationally recognized college counselor, Danny Ruderman, explains the role of the essay in college applications and gives tips on how to best write it

Transcript

Expert Bio

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Danny Ruderman

Independent College Counselor

Danny Ruderman is a nationally recognized college counselor whose mission is to help as many families as possible navigate the admissions process.  

The Fontana High School and Stanford grad is the author of The Ultimate College Acceptance System and creator of college counseling programs used by school districts across the U.S. and Fortune 500 companies. He is known for his huge forehead and helping students get into schools that really match their interests. His newest book, Top 100 Answers to Your College Admissions Questions will be released in March 2013.

Danny graduated with Honors from Stanford University and holds a BA in Human Biology with an emphasis in Education. He was named a Merit Teacher for his work at Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles and worked as an educational therapist for K&M Associates in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors (WACAC). He has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, Between the Lines on PBS, College Bound Magazine, The Bill Handel Show, and Powernomics. Danny is also a regular contributor to Money 101 on KFWB in Los Angeles.

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