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At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned. A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try. So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people?

Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night. But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power. Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me. I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary.

Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded. I learned to adapt.

Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival. But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo. Then, I realized I knew the answer. I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me. Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose.

You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness. My family experience taught me to face a serendipitous world with confidence. It's very helpful to take writing apart in order to see just how it accomplishes its objectives. Stephen's essay is very effective. Let's find out why! I had never broken into a car before. In just eight words, we get: Is he headed for a life of crime? Is he about to be scared straight?

Notice how whenever he can, Stephen uses a more specific, descriptive word in place of a more generic one. 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. This is absolutely boring. Everyone has someone to believe, love and to admire. There is no difference if you write about your friend, mom or God. Even if you are not, they can suspect you. Also, such topics are too depressive and challenging to write about. Also, forget about any pet stories — officers hate them. Do not be afraid.

Think about writing college essay like an opportunity to share your experience and thoughts with the Admission Committee. Try to show your another side and to enjoy this experience. Topics to Avoid in a College Admission Essay What could be more dreaded for an ordinary student than writing an admissions essay? Essay Help There are thousands of examples of great college admission essays written on different subjects online.

Essay Questions There are always a lot of questions for the admission officers about the role and purpose of the essay. So, here is a list of 10 topics to avoid in your essay for college admission. Sports There are millions of students that have written in their essays about sports achievements. Strictures Sometimes you just need to follow the rules, and writing college admission essay is that case.

Illegal activity Drug use, drinking and driving, arrests or jail time. Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you. We know that great scores take work. That's why we design our courses to be efficient, targeted and strategic so you make the most of every minute you spend prepping.

Our experts know how to design lessons based on how you're learning. We love our teachers, and so will you. Teach or Tutor for Us. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University. Privacy Terms of Use Site Map. Telling Your Story to Colleges So what does set you apart? Why The Princeton Review? Productive Preparation We know that great scores take work. Engaging Teachers We love our teachers, and so will you.

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Tips for a Stellar College Application Essay

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15 Crazy College Application Essay Questions Elizabeth Hoyt. February 10, College application essays don’t have to be a drag – and these schools prove it. They’ve created some of the most outlandish, thought-provoking and original essay questions out there. Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without.

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The Most Memorable College Admissions Essays Reddit Has Ever Seen Will Blow Your Mind It's been a long time since I penned my college application essays, but that doesn't mean I don't still.

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Craft a unique, memorable application essay with the help of our experienced essay specialists and advisors The dissertation women in the workforce following 15 schools had some of our favorite imaginative college admissions essay “Winston Churchill believed ‘a joke is a We cannot help . College admissions officers read thousands of college application essays. These tips and strategies can help you make a strong impression. exceptional application essays can help students with marginal scores get into the schools of their dreams. The tips below will help you win big with your essay. Not just humor, but the overall tone.

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Even writing a college essay can be fun. "What?" you say, "Writing an essay is fun? the writer has a great sense of humor. College admissions readers love when you put smiles on their faces. The college application essay is your chance to show schools who you are. Learn how to write a college essay that sets you apart. Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay. Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. Being funny .