Resources for the College Admissions Essay

JMJ  *One of the components of the common application, which serves as an application to several of Sabrina’s chosen universities, is the essay, and so this is how the Rocky Shore essay came to be.

Ring the School Bell 57/180 Days

USC opened its doors to prospective students this last weekend, to show a glimpse of their glory.  Manicured lawns, beautiful showy fountains, but more importantly, attentive professors were available in their classrooms for candid discussions about student life at USC and program information.

I could picture myself here, as I do most other campuses I visit!  Opportunities such as this were not made available to me while I was researching university options, years ago.  It was a different era.  No matter, it all worked out.  Double majors are encouraged here at USC, as well as minors in opposing subjects to a chosen major, to produce a well-rounded individual.  I like that idea.

Financial aid and scholarships could potentially reduce the price tag of this lovely but insanely-priced institution.  Sabrina is interested in applying, and so we will.  One of the components of the common application, which serves as an application to several of Sabrina’s chosen universities, is the essay, and so this is how the Rocky Shore essay came to be.

The rocky shore which inspired Sabrina while writing her admissions essay

Pablo, the director of our tiny school, offered to come over to our house and assist Sabrina in developing her essay.  Veronique, his wife, came over, as well as her three sweet children, and so we all spent the afternoon together while they were brainstorming and developing Sabrina’s essay. After a while, I made dinner for everyone.

The essay they were working on, ultimately compared life to the rocky shores in Malibu, with an opening quote by Thoreaux.  Reflection and revision had produced a beautiful personal essay, in my opinion.  Of course, I am having another proud mom moment, and I can’t help but be a little subjective!  Here is the essay.  I hope you enjoy it.  I know I included this in a narrative at the very beginning of the year, but in case you didn’t see it the first time around…

Sabrina at the rocky shore

The Rocky Shore by Sabrina T

          In early September, my family and I went to a Malibu beach.  Looking into the distance, we spotted some rocks and decided to climb them.  After wading through the water to reach the mid-sized beings, I started to climb, but had to be careful because the dark brown rocks were sharp. I could hear the waves striking the rocks below.  Then, splashed on the feet by a cold, wet wave, I suddenly felt very cold and numb by the wintry wave’s welcome and the wind biting my face. “Is the sea mad at me?” I wondered. Finally, I reached the top of the cliff and looked at the view before me.  It was picturesque. There was the sea, a dark, proud, brooding blue that was calm in the distance but rough at the shoreline. And there was the sky, a calm grey color, watching over the vast ocean below. Sitting on the top of a cliff, there was not much I could do but admire the atmosphere around me and let my mind work.

          There were many things I liked about that location. Being a dramatic setting, it felt it should be one of the rocky shores in a Jane Austen book or a dramatic scene in Wuthering Heights. It was immersive; it made one feel as if he/she had just stepped into another time, another place, another mindset.  But there were other things I like about that particular beach.  Unlike other beaches I have been to where the people crowd the place as if it were one, big party, this beach was secluded. It was quiet; the only noise was the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks.  Things that would have been blocked out by the noise, the commotion of everyday life, revealed themselves there. I imagined myself in one of the books I mentioned, and then wondered where my own story would take me. That rocky shore gave me confidence; when I left that rocky beach I felt ready to face the rest of my story.

          Thinking back on that day, I realize that the rocky shore and I are quite similar.  The sea is emotional and filled with life, so am I.  The waves and I both create music; the waves sing and I play piano. We both have rocks, challenges, that hold us back and sometimes, we crash into them only to recede and try again, knowing that with every wave a little stone is removed from the obstacle; we are both ambitious.  Just as the big rocks may seem overwhelming to the waves, a difficult piano piece is daunting when I first begin to practice it. But even though I might not notice at first, every time I play the piece, it becomes easier and easier as the little difficulties are removed and my fingers overcome the notes.  It may take a while, but my fingers will eventually be able to move freely over the notes. Similarly, it may take a while for the waves to level the rocks, but eventually the waves will move freely over the sand.

           No matter who we are, these places remind us that while it is important to have sunny beaches where we can have fun and play, it is indispensable for us to also have “rocky shores” where we can dream, reflect and let our imaginations run wild. Whether it is in a library, on a stage or in a chapel, if we don’t find these places, we will lose track of who we are and forget our true goals and dreams; these places encourage self-discovery and empower us to face the challenges ahead, no matter what they may be.  I hope that in the years to come, especially in my college years, I will never forget the significance of the “rocky shore.”

Here are a few ideas and resources that we employed to help Sabrina, our prospective  college student, with her college admission essay.  I hope that they help you and your child also!

  • High school essay writing intensive course by Andrew Pudewa.  The best way to take this course is in person.  He tours the USA frequently so if you are interested, you may want to see if he is coming soon to your area.  There is also the video course below, as well as a streaming course on his website.

The following course description is taken from the IEW website:

High School Essay Intensive, Second Edition [DVD Seminar & Handouts]

This DVD course with accompanying handouts provides immediate experience and inside tips toward high school essay writing, including text analysis, response-to-literature prompts, and the college application personal essay.
Other ideas:
  • Use assets at your child’s disposable.  And make certain a thank you card is sent afterwards!  We had Uncle Paul, the screenplay writer, and also Pablo, our friend, who was an English major and accomplished school grant writer, to help direct Sabrina in the right direction.
  • Summertime is a great resource if you can convince your child to get a head start on his college admissions essay.  This way your child can ponder ideas and make as many revisions as necessary.  Every draft gets better.
  • Your child is a resource to themselves!  This is an opportunity for them to dig deep into their memories and experience.  There is so much there to tap into, although at first it may be a little difficult to get going on paper.
  • Use the internet.  The link below had some great ideas/resources.

Other ideas out there?

Blessings and good luck in your child’s endeavors!

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette




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