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Writing Essays to get into Selective Summer Programs

by Carol Barash, PhD, on Jul 15, 2019 1:42:00 PM

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Are you applying to competitive summer programs? If you’re in tenth or eleventh grade, it’s worth considering. There are lots of great summer programs--many of them offer scholarships for low-income students--and they can help your college search in several different ways:

  • Help you learn more about possible careers
  • Expose you to college-level work and research
  • Visit colleges and learn how to manage college life

Here’s a great list of summer programs, updated regularly by college counselors, and for more pre-college summer opportunities visit Teen Life.

And here’s how to get noticed and get into the most selective programs:

  • Make sure you’re a good fit: Do you have the prerequisites for the program? Will you have fun, or will you be in over your head? Some summer programs are geared specifically for high school students; others are at college level--what are you looking for?
  • Send in everything on time: Some programs require your transcript or a letter of recommendation from a teacher. So get organized well before the deadlines, so you have plenty of time to do your best work.
  • Use the essay(s) to show what makes you different from other students: Imagine that most of the applicants have similar grades and test scores. What makes you different from other students who look the same on paper?

How exactly does the essay work? Great personal essays have three characteristics: they reveal your unique perspective; strong writing; and an authentic voice.

  • Start by making a list of moments when you changed, grew or made a difference.
  • Write them down and break each Defining Moment into smaller moments--the first time you were cast in a lead role you practiced, you auditioned, you tripped on stage and got back up, you cheered on your best friend, you went to callbacks...and finally...
  • Tell your story out loud to activate your memory and creativity and record it
  • Transcribe the story you told out loud and use that as your first draft.

Want more support with your college essays? Join our live, online College Essay Bootcamp this summer.

Finish Your Personal Statement Draft in 2 Hours

Topics:High School and College

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