Although I’ve always loved to write, I remember the dread I felt when faced with writing my college essays. For many students, the stakes feel high and there’s no clear roadmap. It’s the only part of the application in which you can express your personality— and thus become a real person in the eyes of the admission person reading your essay. So, how do you make it work for you? Read on to see my top four tips on writing a winning college essay and gaining admission to your top schools.

Choose the Right Topic
Think of your essay as a place to show who you are, rather than merely reviewing what you’ve done. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. “I wrote about my interest in fashion as a male student in a very monotonously dressed high school,” said Julien Adveney, now a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. “For me, fashion was a way of communicating and expressing myself during high school and writing about it allowed me to show a huge part of who I am… that they could have never seen by just looking at my grades and test scores.”

Get Started
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts,” says Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, a book on the writing process. “You need to start somewhere.” Even if you’re feeling blocked, dive in. Write something. Anything. It’s easier to work with words on a page than it is to stare at an intimidatingly blank one. Most importantly, start the writing process early to give yourself time for plenty of revisions. Then share it with everyone whose opinion you value. Friends, parents, favorite teachers — all of these people know you the best and will have valuable criticism. Just be sure to give them ample time to respond with thoughtful comments.

Balancing Act
The best essays walk a tightrope: It’s important to be humble, and yet being too modest about your accomplishments is also a miss. “Your essay provides a voice and personality to the application,” says Kevin O’Sullivan, executive director of admissions at Sacred Heart University, “It’s your interview on paper.” He adds that if an admissions committee is not able to afford students the opportunity to interview in person, this is it, so don’t hold back. Let your admissions audience know what you have to offer.

Get Personal
Some of the strongest essays are on seemingly random topics. — like this funny and endearing one about a student’s experience as a Ben & Jerry’s scooper. Take a few minutes to do a brain dump on your best stories, even the mildly embarrassing ones, and then get to work. It can help you find the perfect center to your essay and allow you to showcase your best attributes in action.


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Like an athlete preparing for a big game, hitting your peak performance on the SATs requires a solid training plan, good coaching, and team support. Here are four tips to make sure you meet your goals.

Slow and Steady

Give yourself adequate time to prepare. “Students should study and plan to take their first SAT prior to the spring of their junior year,” advises Dr. Kat Cohen, CEO and Founder of IvyWise, a NYC-based educational counseling firm. “This will allow for more room for improvement, especially when there are also finals, AP exams, extracurriculars, and challenging courses to consider at that time of year.” Set weekly and monthly goals. You can intensify these goals as the test gets closer, and you’ll feel more confident because you’ve already put in the time.

Block Distraction

Take a hard look at the biggest challenges to your focus. Phone calls from friends? Turn off your phone when you’re studying. If social media is your siren call, try an app to restrict use. SelfControl blocks specific websites. Another app, Freedom prevents you from using the Internet at all.

Enjoy Yourself

For most of the students with whom I’ve spoken, creating the right environment can make a dramatic difference. “Studying for the SAT was not much fun,” said Hannah Needle, now a freshman at Harvard, “so I would give myself little rewards (such as snacks or a 15-minute Facebook break) every hour or so to make the work more bearable.” Play music that relaxes you. Burn a yummy candle. If you feel restless, plan on getting some exercise before you sit down.

Finding Support

Working with a strong tutor or registering for a prep course can offer additional structure to your studying, as well as valuable guidance — but if you can’t afford to go that route, fear not. “Khan Academy resources and practice tests are free, and can be super helpful to students studying for the new SAT,” suggests Cohen. “Students should take timed practice tests so they’re familiar with each section.”

So there you have it, four quick and super helpful tips to help you master the SATs. And remember, they’re not fun, but they’re a necessary evil, and once you’re done, you never have to take them again!


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Can Facebook photos of you partying with friends cost you your first job? Can off-color tweets or Instagram posts lead a potential employer to pass you by? Is it worth the time to clean up your social media presence, especially during a job search?

Yes, yes, and yes.

45% of employers indicate that they check out candidates on social media, and the vast majority are unlikely to hire candidates whose online presence reveals unprofessional conduct. Here are four tips to presenting yourself in the best light:

1. Understand what you’re dealing with. Google yourself and see what comes up. Review your platforms to remind yourself what you’ve posted. Get rid of anything that you wouldn’t want your future boss to see — anything from last weekend’s house party to sloppy typos. “You can’t hide from social media, so embrace it and use it wisely and creatively,” suggests Evan Vogel, co-founder of the Night Agency “Use it to stand out amongst your peers. But just remember, once it’s out there, it’s out there. So think, do I really want to world to see this before you post anything.”

2. Change your privacy settings so that you’re only sharing vacation pics with family and friends. “It’s important to separate church and state as much as possible,” Matt Strode, chief talent officer at Urban Outfitters, advises. “When it comes to social, less is more. Even if you looked great on that beach in Cabo, do you really want your future boss seeing bikini shots?”

3. Pick a professional profile photo. Scrap the photo of your niece eating chocolate cake or your sexy kitten costume last Halloween. Nobody needs to hire a sexy kitten (if they do, you probably don’t want the job). “It takes five minutes for a friend to take a great headshot of you,” says Strode.

4. Create the right content. Just as you want to eliminate the negative, you also want to accentuate how passionate and knowledgeable you are about your chosen field. Post content showing that you’re in touch with what professionals in your industry are talking about.


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  2. Stronger – Britney Spears
  3. Unwritten – Ntasha Beddingfield
  4. Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld
  5. Lose Yourself – Eminem
  6. Flawless (DJ Taj Remix) ft Panic – Beyoncé
  7. Drunk in Love (Diplo Remix) – Beyoncé
  8. Waterbed ft. Waterbed – The Chainsmokers
  9. Powerful ft. Ellie Goulding – Major Lazer
  10. It’s not right but it’s ok (club mix) – Whitney Houston
  11. We Found Love vs. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Rihanna vs. Whitney Houston
  12. A Thousand Miles (Vanessa Carlton Refix) – Mnek
  13. Fighter – Christina Aguilera
  14. Til I Collapse – Eminem
  15. Dog Days are Over – Florence + the Machiene
  16. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  17. Undefeated – Jason Derulo
  18. Heart of a Champion – Nelly
  19. Life in Color – OneRepublic
  20. Sorry – Justin Bieber