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The College Application Essay Paperback – July 17, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0874479874 ISBN-10: 0874479878 Edition: Fifth Edition
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sarah Myers McGinty wants you to keep the college-application process in perspective. Don't panic, she says. "The goal of this process is not to sell an ideal image of yourself. It is to find the right school for you." But of course once you've found that school, you do have to convince its admissions officers that the school wants you as much as you want it. McGinty's The College Application Essay discusses such topics as recommendation letters and college interviews, but its main focus is the essay. Essay questions vary from school to school (this book is loaded with specific examples), but McGinty groups them into three categories: the "tell us about yourself" question, the "why do you want to attend this particular school" question, and "the creative question" (which asks you to comment on an issue, a hero, a book, a quotation, the future, or the like). How you write is as important as what you write, and whatever you do, don't get someone else to write it for you. "Admission people usually can tell," warns McGinty. "If they mark the essay 'DDI,' they've concluded that 'Daddy did it.'"

McGinty also gives some attention to non-traditional, or "high risk," essays. While not for everyone, the high-risk essay can work wonders when you chances of getting into a given school are slim. "We'll take a risk for the right reason," says Simmons College admissions dean Deborah Wright, and perhaps you should, too. After all, says McGinty, "I am sure in the final hours of committee meetings on 'gray zone' applications, no one has ever said, 'Hey, wait a minute, what about that kid who wrote the essay about his family?'" --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"An invaluable how-to manual, written with authority and humor by the reigning expert on the topic. [It is] the definitive book on the college application essay." --Carl Bewig, Director of College Counseling, Phillips Academy

"...a clear, on-point, and practical guide-it takes the student from the reasons why essays count in admission decisions to the craft of college essays." --William C. Hiss, Vice President for Administrative Services, Bates College
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The College Application Essay
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: College Board; Fifth Edition edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874479878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874479874
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

SARAH MYERS MCGINTY's own application was entirely forgettable. But you can profit from her wisdom gained in a career in education, communications, and admissions research: working at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard College, several public high schools, Sarah Lawrence admission, and for the College Board on five books about application writing. Her message: "Calm down, believe in yourself...and could you please be a little more specific?" Easy.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By proustroost on August 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've thought very carefully about making this statement, and must submit that this book contributed significantly to my daughter's successful application process. Her grades were hardly top level, but, inspired by McGinty's clear and direct recommendations, she worked hard on her essays and is now enrolled in an Ivy League college. Unlike other purportedly helpful books in this field, this one focuses on the reflective and personal process that actually makes this rite of passage an edifying one for the student. McGinty helps her readers write an essay that will fulfill its purpose; i.e., enable a college admissions officer to learn about the applicant. Rather than dictating a series of rote "How-tos," she encourages self-exploration and -expression as a means to this end. Her unique perspective as an educator and college admissions consultant make her eminently qualified to guide a teenager through the swamp that the application essays can come to feel like. As a writing teacher myself, I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Pollock on June 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book seems to be written from a defensive mode. It clearly doesn't take chances where it has to, such as giving clear examples of points mentioned in the book. This book should change its name to "How to Write a Paper for College" as it does just that.

The first 66 pages are what you would find in any beginning composition class, but as seniors approaching college, students need more than just the basics. Almost all of the examples aren't even application essay examples, but literary examples which don't serve a purpose. Examples such as an introduction on Dickens is completely useless. How about an introduction for a college application essay? And the examples go on from there including, desert animals, The Simpsons, Hamlet, Moby Dick, and a comparison of FDR and Wilson. It's almost as if the writer can't write a good application essay, which is why the examples are literary and historical in nature.

What students really need are powerful introductions, a method of how to bring out themselves in an essay, and memorable conclusions, not just worthless literary examples.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ramtin Rahmani on October 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some people swear by this book, but I didn't find it that helpful. The book has some examples at the end, but the commentary does not provide much insight as to how the reader can fix their own essay. The writer uses quotes from different college counselors, one of which I found out is from a counselor at my school! What I most disliked about the book is that it gives more examples of college questions, than ways to approach the question. In one chapter, the author gave 3 pages worth of college supplement section questions but didn't give a clear way to answer them.
I would recommended looking into other books before you buy this. Visit your local book store and flip through the book before deciding to buy it. I found another book I bought (The 50 Successful Harvard Application Essays) much better than this. It doesn't surprise me though, because it is branded by the College Board, which makes me expect vague explanations and no real purpose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alexis D.T. on January 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Excellent book; if you want real advice on how to write a stellar application essay, this is the guide for you. At first, I purchased a few other books on the topic, but they were not helpful because they simply cited positive aspects of other students' essays. It's hard (and not advisable) to copy other people's writing. Also, these books were all about "selling yourself," and produced very canned, artificial drafts.

After hearing many great things about McGinty's book, I found that it helped me craft an essay which reflected my character, spirit, and ideas-- my essay soon dramatically changed into a more interesting and powerful part of my application. Using these strategies, I was admitted to a top 5 college and a top 5 law school despite my less-than-great test scores. You will not regret this investment!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MBA Applicant on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
I invested a lot of time learning Sarah's rules and techniques to successful application writing and let me tell you there are a few tricks to the trade that aren't as intuitive as one may think. The most valuable part of her `program', for lack of a better word, is helping come up with a cohesive application profile. It helps you choose essay topics that reflect this profile and ensure that you are presenting yourself fairly and adequately to the admission committee. Her book clearly identifies the traps that unsuccessful applicants fall into and helps you steer clear of the canned essays so many are unsuccessful with. I have recently been accepted to one of the top 3 business programs worldwide by following Sarah's methods. I highly Sarah's essay writing program.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Orlando M. Martinez on October 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book. Not only does it help you write the College Essay, but it provides you with tips you can use throughout your academic career. It also puts the College Essay in perspective and it empowers the writer and fills them with confidence that they can do this. I ordered the book for my high school junior, but since he is swamped at this time, I started reading it first. I cannot wait until he reads it, I am sure he will be hooked.

As a mom, I feel like this book is the best guidance and advice a mother could give her child. The author does not hold anything back.

She provides all the tools, or even better, she tells the reader that they are already equipped with the tools, now they have to put them to use.

Thank you for this book.
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