Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success. Part 6

After evaluating your essay topics with the previous criteria and asking for the opinions of your teachers and of your friends, you should have at least one or two interesting essay topics.

  Definite Considerations For Your Essay Topic

  1. You. If you are planning on writing an essay on how you survived poverty in Russia, your mother’s suicide, your father’s kidnapping, or your immigration to America from Asia, you should be careful that your main goal is to address your own personal qualities. Just because something sad or horrible has happened to you does not mean that you will be a good college or graduate school student. You don’t want to be remembered as the pathetic applicant. You want to be remembered as the applicant who showed impressive qualities under difficult circumstances. It is for this reason that essays relating to this topic are considered among the best. Unless you only use the horrible experience as a lens with which to magnify your own personal characteristics, you will not write a good essay. Graduate and professional school applicants should generally steer clear of this topic altogether unless you can argue that your experience will make you a better business person, doctor, lawyer, or scholar.
  2. The Rest of Your Application. Essays should fit in well with the rest of a candidate’s application, explaining the unexplained and steering clear of that which is already obvious. For example, if you have a 4.0 GPA and a 1500 SAT, no one doubts your ability to do the academic work and addressing this topic would be ridiculous. However, if you have an 850 SAT and a 3.9 GPA or 1450 SAT and a 2.5 GPA, you would be wise to incorporate in your essay an explanation for the apparent contradiction. For example, perhaps you were hospitalized or family concerns prevented your dedication to academics; you would want to mention this in your essay. However, do not make your essay one giant excuse. Simply give a quick, convincing explanation within the framework of your larger essay.
  1. Diversity. Every college, professional school, or graduate school wants to increase diversity. For this reason, so many applicants are tempted to declare what makes them diverse. However, simply saying you are a female or minority will not impress admissions officers in the least. While an essay incorporating this information would probably be your best topic idea, you must finesse the issue by addressing your own personal qualities and how you overcame stigma, dealt with social ostracism, etc. However, you must demonstrate vividly your personal qualities, interests, motivations, and more. Address specifically how your diversity will contribute to the realm of academic opinion, the academic environment, and campus social life.
  1. No Failures. Don’t mention weaknesses unless you absolutely need to explain them away. You want to make a positive first impression. Why admit to weakness when you can instead showcase your strengths?
  2. Be Honest. But not for honesty’s sake. Unless you are a truly excellent writer, your best, most passionate writing will be about events that actually occurred. While you might be tempted to invent hardship, it is completely unnecessary. Write an essay about your life that demonstrates your personality.


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Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success. Part 5

Think about the previous post, but also consider the following questions before proceeding:

  1. Have you selected a topic that describes something of personal importance in your life, with which you can use vivid personal experiences as supporting details?
  1. Is your topic a gimmick? That is, do you plan to write your essay in iambic pentameter and make it funny? You should be very careful if you are planning to do this. Almost always, tongue in cheek essays are done poorly and are not appreciated by the admissions committee. Nothing is worse than not laughing or not being amused at something that was written to be funny.
  1. Will your topic only repeat information listed elsewhere on your application? If so, pick a new topic. Don’t mention GPAs or standardized test scores in your essay.
  1. Can you offer vivid supporting paragraphs to your essay topic? If you cannot easily think of supporting paragraphs with concrete examples, you should probably choose a different essay topic.
  1. Can you fully answer the question asked of you? Can you address and elaborate on all points within the specified word limit, or will you end up writing a poor summary of something that might be interesting as a report or research paper? If you plan on writing something technical for college admissions, make sure you truly can back up your interest in a topic and are not merely throwing around big scientific words. Unless you convince the reader that you actually have the life experiences to back up your interest in neurobiology, the reader will assume you are trying to impress him/her with shallow tactics. Also, be sure you can write to admissions officers and that you are not writing over their heads.
  1. Can you keep the reader’s interest from the first word? The entire essay must be interesting, considering admissions officers will probably only spend a few minutes reading each essay.
  1. Will your topic turn off a large number of people? If you write on how everyone should worship your God, how wrong or right abortion is, or how you think the Republican or Democratic Party is evil, you will not get into the college of your choice. The only thing worse than not writing a memorable essay is writing an essay that will be remembered negatively. Stay away from specific religions, political doctrines, or controversial opinions. You can still write an essay about Nietzsche’s influence on your life, but express understanding that not all intelligent people will agree with Nietzsche’s claims. Emphasize instead Nietzsche’s influence on your life, and not why you think he was wrong or right in his claims.
  2. In this vein, if you are presenting a topic that is controversial, you must acknowledge counter-arguments without sounding arrogant.
  3. Will an admissions officer remember your topic after a day of reading hundreds of essays? What will the officer remember about your topic? What will the officer remember about you? What will your lasting impression be?
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Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success. Part 4

If after reading the previous post you still do not have an idea for your essay, do not be surprised. Coming up with an idea is difficult and requires time. Without a topic you feel passionate about, without one that brings out the defining aspects of you personality, you risk falling into the trap of sounding like the 90 percent of applicants who will write boring admissions essays. The only way to write a unique essay is to have personal experiences that support whatever topic you come up with. Whatever you do, don’t let the essay stress you out. Have fun with the brainstorming process. You might discover something about yourself you never consciously realized.

Selecting a Topic

Having completed brainstorming, you should now have a rough idea of the elements you wish to include in your essay, including your goals, important life experiences, research experience, diversifying features, spectacular nonacademic accomplishments, and other important elements. You should also now have an idea of what impression you want to make on the admissions officers. I should remark that at this stage, undergraduate applicants have a large advantage over graduate school applicants. Whereas nobody questions a high school student’s motivation to attend college, graduate and professional school applicants must directly address in their essays their desire to study their selected field. Consider topics that will allow you to synthesize your important personal characteristics and experiences into a coherent whole while simultaneously addressing your desire to attend a specific institution. While most admissions essays allow great latitude in topic selection, you must also be sure to answer the questions that were asked. Leaving a lasting impression on someone who reads 50-100 essays a day will not be easy. Yet with any luck, one or two topics, with small changes, will allow you to answer application questions for 5-7 different colleges, although admissions officers do appreciate essays that provide convincing evidence of how an applicant will fit into a particular academic environment. You should at least have read the college’s webpage, admissions catalog, and have an understanding of the institution’s strengths.

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Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success. Part 3

If those questions did not cure your writer’s block, consider the following exercises:

Ask for Help from Parents, Friends, and Teachers.

If you cannot characterize yourself and your personality traits do not automatically leap to mind, ask those who know you best to write a list of your five most salient personality traits. Ask why they chose the traits they did. If an image of your personality begins to emerge, brainstorm life experiences that could illustrate the particular traits.

Consider your Childhood.

While admissions officers are not interested in reading about your childhood and are more interested in the last 2-4 years of your life, you might consider events of your childhood that inspired the interests you have today. Interests that began in childhood may be the most defining parts of your life, even if you recently lost interest. For instance, if you were interested in math since an early age and now want to study medicine, you might incorporate this into your medical school admissions essay. Analyze the reasons for your interests and how they were shaped by your upbringing.

Consider your Role Models.

Many applicants do not have role models and whenever greatly influenced by just one or two people. However, for those of you who have role models and actually aspire to become like certain people, you may want to incorporate a discussion of that person and the traits you admired into your application essay.

Read Sample Admissions Essays.

Before you sat down to write a poem, you would certainly read past poets. Before writing a book of philosophy, you would consider past philosophers. In the same way, reading sample admissions essays help you understand what topics other applicants chose to use.

Determine your Goals.

Life is short. Why do you want to spend two to six years of your life at a particular college, graduate school, or professional school? How is the degree necessary to the fulfillment of your goals? When considering your goals, think broadly. Few people would be satisfied with just a career. How else will your education fit your needs and lead you to a fulfilling life?

A Quick Side Note:

You may already have an idea for an essay in mind. If you do, that is great! The next section will be all about how to take your ideas and organize them in a way so it is easy to start writing your essay. I recommend reading the rest of this section anyway, to help perfect your topic.

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Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success. Part 2

4. What was the most difficult time in your life, and why? How did your perspective on life change as a result of the difficulty?

  1. Have you ever struggled mightily for something and succeeded? What made you successful?
  1. Have you ever struggled mightily for something and failed? How did you respond?
  1. Of everything in the world, what would you most like to be doing right now? Where would you most like to be? Who, of everyone living and dead, would you most like to be with? These questions should help you realize what you love most.
  2. Have you experienced a moment of epiphany, as if your eyes were opened to something you were previously blind to?
  3. What is your strongest, most unwavering personality trait? Do you maintain strong beliefs or adhere to a philosophy? How would your friends characterize you? What would they write about if they were writing your admissions essay for you?
  4. What are your most important extracurricular or community activities? What made you join these activities? What made you continue to contribute to them?
  5. What are your dreams of the future? When you look back on your life in thirty years, what would it take for you to consider your life successful? What people, things, and accomplishments do you need? How does this particular university fit into your plans for the future?

This is important and all, but of course you should not stop just here, read the following post to know what’s next!

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Writing the Successful College Application Essay: Tips for Success


Gaining entrance to just about any college continues to get harder as more and more applicants are applying for a limited number of spaces. How can you improve your chances of being admitted to the college or university of your choice? By writing a stellar personal essay as part of your college application. How you write your personal essay shows the admissions committee why you are different from everybody else. It provides information about you that test scores, grades, and extracurricular pursuits just cannot. You can use the essay to describe a favorite activity, to tell a story about yourself, or even a story about your dog, but make sure to really use it in a way that captures the reader’s attention and shows that you are exceptional. It may only be 500 words, but the admissions essay portion of the college application can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.

How do you write a college application essay? Writing the college application essay can be one of the most daunting parts of applying to college. To help you get started, check out these thoughts on brainstorming ideas choosing a topic, and how to write an effective and powerful essay. Once you’ve gone through the three steps take a look at the five free sample college application essays.


The most important part of your essay is the subject matter. You should expect to devote about 1-2 weeks simply to brainstorming ideas. To begin brainstorming a subject idea, consider the following points. From brainstorming, you may find a subject you had not considered at first.

  1. What are your major accomplishments, and why do you consider them accomplishments? Do not limit yourself to accomplishments you have been formally recognized for since the most interesting essays often are based on accomplishments that may have been trite at the time but become crucial when placed in the context of your life.
  1. Does any attribute, quality, or skill distinguish you from everyone else? How did you develop this attribute?
  1. Consider your favorite books, movies, works of art, etc. Have these influenced your life in a meaningful way? Why are they your favorites?

I guess that is enough information for today’s post. Stay tuned for the next one!

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My son, Tim Baldwin, is a constitutional attorney and historian. And now, after reading his just-released book, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, I learned something else about him: he is quite the scholar and decided to write my essay for you. I dare say his new book, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, rivals any great textbook of law and history written during the last hundred years. And I am not saying that because he is my son. I am saying that because it is the truth.

Tim’s book is not for pussyfooters. It is not a book designed for light, casual reading. The book, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, is an in-depth and exhaustive manual of American law and history (of over 500 pages) that should be read by every serious lover of liberty–especially those who call themselves Christians! The footnotes, alone, would make for a greater-than-average-size book and are chock-full of historical quotations and references.

Recommending the book, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, are best-selling author Jerome Corsi (“The Late Great USA” and “The Obama Nation,” etc.) and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, author (“God & Caesar” and “Christianity and the Constitution,” etc.), and professor of constitutional law at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Alabama, John Eidsmoe. Retired Air Force Brigadier General Charles E. Jones III penned the book’s foreword.

Dr. Corsi said this about Tim’s book: “FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE is a must read for any American who wants to see a restoration and revival of freedom. Timothy Baldwin’s research and exposition of the principles of freedom come straight from the sources that America’s founding fathers read and used. It is certainly time that America experiences this FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE!”

Colonel Eidsmoe said, “FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE stands out among other books because of Baldwin’s meticulous research, quotation, and documentation from the founding fathers’ own writings, and from the sources they studied–Blackstone, Montesquieu, Locke, Grotius, Sidney, and above all, the Bible. Baldwin interacts with these sources and contrasts the original understanding of government with the usurpations of government officials today. Baldwin’s analysis is clear, comprehensive, and convincing. To understand where America went wrong and what we Americans can do about it, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE is vital reading!”

From the foreword, General Jones writes, “Author Timothy Baldwin studiously wrote FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE with great wisdom, understanding, and insight as he developed and expounded a complete and comprehensive picture of what made America free and what it will take to keep it free. FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE is a necessary read for all politicians, constitutional scholars, and freedom-first citizens.”

General Jones also wrote, “When the contents of FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE are digested and applied, they will undoubtedly play a large part in the recovery of our once great republic.”

Tim superbly reveals how America’s Founding Fathers weaved the principles of the natural and revealed laws of God into the very foundation and fabric of our nation’s formation. His research into the writings and public statements of America’s founders is masterful! After reading Tim’s book, no honest, objective reader–Christian or not–will be able to refute the facts and documentation proving America’s founding as a nation of “free and independent states” under the natural and revealed laws of God.

The 4th chapter of FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, alone, is worth the price of the book. The chapter is titled “Understanding Government.” Tim rightly expounds upon the truism that one cannot rightly understand the nature of government who does not understand the nature of man or the nature of God. He brilliantly proves that America’s founders clearly understood all of the above and predicated our Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and Bill of Rights upon this sagacious understanding. He meticulously unveils the principles of life, self-preservation and defense, reason, knowledge, freedom, and peace. He delves deeply into the propensity of government to oppress and enslave. And he spares no space in demonstrating the importance of understanding the nature of God in the formation and perpetuation of good government–something the vast majority of scholars and historians overlook.

Chapter 7, entitled “Government’s Purpose,” chapter 9, entitled “Government Administrators: Their Qualifications,” and chapter 10, entitled “Government Administrators: Their Limits,” are also crucial to understanding the principles that preserve and maintain liberty.

Christians, especially, will find Tim’s in-depth analysis of the Biblical teaching found in Romans 13 regarding submission to governmental authority extremely enlightening. If for no other reason, every pastor and Christian in America should read FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE in order to gain a true, Biblical understanding of this vitally important subject. In this regard, chapter 12, entitled “Submission To Government,” is, without question, the very best analysis of the subject that I have ever read–bar none! Oh! How I wish every pastor in America would read this chapter!

Chapter 13, entitled “Resistance to Unlawful Government,” is also worth the price of the book. It is the concluding chapter before four Appendixes that include the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and two chapters written by Tim’s dad (me), which chronicle a burgeoning New World Order currently underway.

Here are the 13 chapter titles:

1. The Starting Point: The Thought Process
2. The Foundation: Natural and Revealed Laws
3. Responsibilities Derived from Natural and Revealed Laws
4. Understanding Government
5. Government Formation
6. Government Administrators: Of, By, and For the People
7. Government’s Purpose
8. Government’s Administration
9. Government Administrators: Their Qualifications
10. Government Administrators: Their Limits
11. Ordination of Government
12. Submission to Government
13. Resistance to Unlawful Government

Tim’s book, FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE, may be obtained by going to Amazon.com

I urge everyone reading this column to immediately purchase Tim Baldwin’s phenomenally researched book of American history entitled FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE. Without a doubt, after reading it, you will be the one who is changed.

(c) Chuck Baldwin

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Governor Rell: Initial Hours of ‘Earl’ Proceeding Much as Expected

Governor M. Jodi Rell this evening said Hurricane Earl’s initial brush with Connecticut has gone much as expected, adding that the state has benefitted in many ways from the storm’s gradual weakening and north-northeast track.

      Governor Rell this morning activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Key state agencies have been at full readiness since Thursday, including preparing equipment and supplies, ensuring vehicles and generators are fully fueled and reviewing plans for dam safety checks, utility service restorations and debris removal.

In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have sent teams to work with state officials in the Connecticut EOC, which is located at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford.

Southeastern Connecticut continues to be the area most affected by the storm. Bands of wind and rain began moving through the region this afternoon. As of early evening, the EOC had received no reports of injuries, major damage or widespread power outages. However, the heaviest downpours and highest winds – including gusts potentially as high as 50 mph – are likely later tonight, particularly between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

            “We have been well-prepared for this storm – but we have also caught some very lucky breaks,” Governor Rell said. “While still a hurricane and still a threat, the storm has steadily dwindled in intensity. Moreover, it has done so much more rapidly than the forecasts suggested last night or this morning. Hurricane Earl has also kept to the ‘track’ that it was predicted to take. Even a small variation might have meant the storm, no matter how much it has weakened, would have delivered a much more destructive blow.

            “I want to thank all of the first responders, state and local officials, utility representatives and our federal partners for the continued efforts as we wait out this storm,” the Governor said. “We are monitoring every step the storm is taking and will continue to do so until it is well out of Connecticut.”

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Zogby Poll: DC Lobbyists Often Out of Step with Constituencies

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new Zogby poll of senior executives, business owners, and members of union households finds that each of these groups thinks the best way to deal with illegal immigrants in the country is to enforce the law and cause them to return home. This is in stark contrast to lobbyists for large companies, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argue for legalization. The findings of the survey are consistent with surveys done by the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small enterprises, showing strong opposition to legalization. Among unions, the leadership strongly supports legalizing illegal immigrants, but this survey shows enforcement — not legalization — is by far the option favored by union members and their families. This survey of likely voters uses neutral language and includes 7,046 members of union households, 2,490 executives (e.g., CEOs, CFOs, VPs or department heads), and 9,990 small business owners.

The full results are at http://www.cis.org/Business-Union-Poll. Among the findings:

When asked to choose between enforcement that would cause illegal immigrants in the country to go home or offering them a pathway to citizenship with conditions, most members of the business community and unions chose enforcement.

  --  Executives (e.g. CEOs, CFOs, VPs etc.): 59 percent support enforcement
      to encourage illegals to go home; 30 percent support conditional
  --  Small Business Owners: 67 percent support enforcement; 22 percent
      support conditional legalization.
  --  Union Households: 58 percent support enforcement; 28 percent support
      conditional legalization.

One of the most interesting findings of the survey is that members of the business community think there are plenty of Americans available to fill unskilled jobs.

  --  Executives: 16 percent said legal immigration should be increased to
      fill unskilled jobs; 61 percent said there are plenty of Americans
      available to do unskilled jobs, employers just need to pay more.
  --  Small Business Owners: 13 percent said increase immigration; 65
      percent said plenty of Americans are available.
  --  Union Households: 10 percent said increase immigration; 72 percent
      said plenty of Americans are available.

Most members of the business community and union households do not feel that illegal immigration is caused by limits on legal immigration, as many of their lobbyists argue; instead, members feel it is due to a lack of enforcement.

  --  Executives: Just 13 percent said illegal immigration is caused by not
      letting in enough legal immigrants; 75 percent said inadequate
  --  Small Business Owners: 10 percent said not enough legal immigration;
      79 percent said inadequate enforcement.
  --  Union Households: 13 percent said not enough legal immigration; 74
      percent said inadequate enforcement efforts.

In contrast to many businesses group and union leaders, most executives and union members think immigration is too high.

  --  Executives: 63 percent said it is too high; 5 percent said too low; 16
      percent said just right.
  --  Small Business Owners: 70 percent said it is too high; 4 percent said
      too low; 13 percent said just right.
  --  Union Households: 63 percent said immigration is too high; 5 percent
      said too low; 14 percent said just right.

Discussion: The large divide between union members and their leadership on the immigration issue is not really surprising. Union members and their families want higher wages and better working conditions that would likely come from lower levels of immigration. While union leaders also want improved conditions for workers, they see legalized immigrants as potential new members, giving them a different point of view. The divide between some business lobbying groups and their members of the business community on immigration is perhaps more surprising.

The largest business association representing big companies is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber supports “earned legal status leading to legal permanent residency” for illegal immigrants. But when given the options of a conditional legalization or enforcement and illegal immigrants going home, executives and small business owners choose enforcement over legalization two and three to one. As for future levels of immigration the Chamber has made clear that, “We face a larger and larger shortage” of low-skilled workers. The Chamber’s president argues that more immigrant workers are needed, “to fill jobs Americans don’t want.” While the idea of improving wages and working conditions to attract American workers does not seem to have occurred to the Chamber, small business owners and executives consider this the best option. Four to one, executives said if employers can’t find enough workers they should pay more rather than increase immigration levels. For small business owners it was five to one.

The survey reported here might be surprising to some, but the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) states clearly on its website that, based on its survey of members, 79 percent “believe undocumented workers should return to their country and seek admission legally.” Their website goes on to state that “NFIB will not support legislation that contains amnesty for undocumented workers.” Although the Zogby poll discussed here never uses the word “amnesty,” when asked about conditional legalization, versus enforcement, small business owners and executives are clear — immigration laws should be enforced and illegal immigrants should go home.

Methodology: Zogby International was commissioned by the Center for Immigration Studies to conduct an online survey of 42,026 adults. A sampling of Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the United States, was invited to participate. For small business owners, Zogby asked respondents if they owned a small business. Executives are those who indicated they were either a C-level executive, managing partner, managing director, or served on the board of directors. Persons in union households are either a member of a union themselves or live with someone who is a union member. The survey was conducted by Zogby from November 13 to 30, 2009. The margin of error for all likely voters is +/- 0.5 percent. The margin of error for executives is 2 percent, for small business owners 1 percent, and for those in union households 1.2 percent.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.

Source: Center for Immigration Studies

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Pictures of Landers Landscaping & Masonry Work


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