3 Skills to Improve Your College Essays

25 Oct


Today we will go over 3 skills that can help make your college essay  more interesting.

Skill: Effective Title

A good title gets the reader’s attention, creates interest, might raise questions, hint at the plot without giving it all away.  Sometimes it comes from a line in the story or something someone says.

Great book titles here and here

Skill: Reflective Narrator

-A reflective narrator does not merely recount the events of a story, they look back and analyze them.  He/she may explain the significance, question actions and event, think about what he/she would do if it happened again, discuss lessons learned, or detail what was going through his/her mind during the event. Here’s a nice article on reflective narrators.

Skill: Bookending

A technique for ending a writing piece, in which an idea that was brought up earlier in the piece is returned to.  Sometimes referred to as a frame story.

Read the Time Magazine Article about the roller coaster Goliath.  Notice the way the story is structured. The author begins with a little bit about the roller coaster Goliath.  Next he is on line waiting to ride the coaster.  The story switches focus and discusses other large roller coasters and coaster technology.  Finally at the end, he returns to his riding of the roller coaster.  He has created a “bookend” structure, in which an idea/situation is introduced, departed from, and then ultimately returned to.  This creates closure in the writing piece.

Examples from movies:

The Princess Bride- The story starts with a grandfather reading a story to his sick grandson.  The actual movie is the story, but every once in a while the “bookend” or “frame story” is reintroduced.  The movie ends with the grandfather and the boy finishing the book.

The Wizard of Oz- The story begins with a tornado in Kansas.  Dorothy is knocked unconscious and awakens in the land of Oz.  The story ends with Dorothy awakening from a dream back in Kansas.

Reading/Catching Up

24 Oct

Today we will have time to do some independent reading, as well as catch up on any work that is missing, or revise work you wish to have a better grade on.

I will call you up to see your current grades.

If you have not finished your college essay draft, it must be in by tomorrow, with your extension coupon.

Here’s a little video about compassion.

Go To A206 to Publish Your College Essay Draft

21 Oct

Today we are meeting in room A206 to publish our college essays.

Log into Kidblog (links are on the right side of this page) and type your essay in a new post. Select the Category “College Essay Draft.”


College Essay: Work on Effective Lead and Epigraph

20 Oct


Today we will spend time making the opening of our essay interesting. Your first few sentences are extremely important. A reader will be making plenty of judgments about you and your writing early in the piece. This is where you either stick out for being interesting or blend in with the crowd for being boring.

Effective Lead Exercise

Write 3 openings for your essay of 3 sentences each, following the guidelines below. When you are done you should have 9 sentences in your notebook.

  1. Create mystery and intrigue. Make your reader wonder what is happening.
  2. Start with action. Think about what the most exciting part of your story is and begin there.
  3. Begin with dialogue. Open your piece with something someone says. Don’t confuse with an epigraph, which is a quote before the beginning of your piece.

Find an Interesting Quote to Use as an Epigraph

Check out this site, BrainyQuote, to find a quote that fits with the themes and ideas of your college essay. They have a handy search by topic feature.


Skill: Epigraph; Work on College Essays

19 Oct

Skill: Epigraph

Epigraph: a quote or statement before the beginning of a piece of literature that highlights a main idea or theme in the piece to follow. It can be used to draw a reader’s attention to a certain idea or concept, or to help set the mood of the piece.

Classic Examples:

Behind every great fortune there is a crime. — Balzac
(from The Godfather by Mario Puzo)

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? — Paradise Lost, X, 743-45
(from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb
(from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!” — Thomas Parke D’Invilliers
(from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

More examples

Work On College Essays

Once again, you will have more time in class to work on your college essay. I will be checking to see that you have at least a page worth of writing (ideas, rough drafts, outlines…).  Essay Questions.

College Essay is Due Friday!!

Here’s a video college essay for inspiration:

Read “Dreem Denied” and Work on College Essays

18 Oct

Read “Dreem Denied”

Dreem Denied” is another great college essay. It shows how the memory of a lost friend helps the author find purpose in his life.

Work on College Essay in Class

You will be given time to work on your college essay in class. By now you should have a pretty solid concept and begin your draft in your notebook.

Read Example College Essay; Work on Drafts

17 Oct


Quick Writes

In your notebook, write about the following.
What was a problem or challenge you faced this weekend? What were your choices? How did you feel about the issue? Did your decision or actions have any effect on others? What did you do (or not do) about the issue? Did you seek any help from anyone? How did it turn out? How would it have turned out if you acted differently? How would you handle the challenge if it came up again?

Read “Sibling Success”

Today we will read a simple but great college essay, “Sibling Success.” Take note of the way in which the author takes the role of older brother and shows his characteristics and growth.

Work on College Essay in Class

You will be given time to work on your college essay in class.

Upcoming Due Dates:

Friday 10/21- College Essay
Friday 10/28- Reading Assignment 2 (be sure to read another 100 pages of your book).
Friday 11/4 – Last day to turn in revisions
Monday 11/7 – Notebook check