Category Archives: Exercises

Can’t think of a good topic?

NYU tried an experiment in 2009, when applicants to the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service were allowed the option of reacting to this photograph — or any one of a number of others  — as an essay question.

As an applicant, you might not want to touch this image with a 10-foot dandelion. But if you’re stuck on a subject to write about for your common app essay, try staring at this picture  for a few minutes. What do you see? What does it remind you of? Riff on those memories.  Make some stream-of-consciousness notes. Continue reading Can’t think of a good topic?

What is a college looking for? Part 2

Exercise 1. Day 2. Reading for a College’s Values

These are examples of successful admissions essays that Johns Hopkins shows on its website.

Mark where each of these three essays reflects the values that you described in your one-sentence summary of the pop-out quotes that we studied in Day 1 of  this exercise. Continue reading What is a college looking for? Part 2