The Secret to a Stellar College Application Essay – Harvard Grad Tips
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The Secret to a Stellar College Application Essay – Harvard Grad Tips

Hello my bold bright people, it’s ya girl
Ahsante the Artist helping you move consciously and creatively through life, so let’s go It’s that time of year where millions of
teens will be trying to sum up their lives in a few sheets of paper to see if the past
12 years of toiling away in classrooms will be good enough to earn them a few more years
of higher level toiling in more expensive classrooms. That’s right, it’s college application
season, so today we’re talking essay tips. Specifically about your main personal essay,
either from the common application or the most open-ended essay question from the school
you’re applying to. And I’m speaking as someone who’s a Harvard
graduate so you know these tips are Harvard proof, but they also apply to colleges more
generally. There’s really no one thing that is perfect
to write about and one thing that you definitely shouldn’t write about. Ok well actually there are a few things you
shouldn’t write about. Put that chapstick away because this is not
the time to be kissing up. Don’t write about why you want to attend
a particular college or why it’s so great, list off test scores or awards, or simply
state your accomplishments. The rest of your application should contain
these things, and your resume should speak for itself. If a college wants you to say why you want
to attend their particular institution, they will ask for that in the supplement essays. Otherwise, they know that they’re a renowned
institution, and have a lot of admiration, blah zay blah say blah, you don’t need to
flatter them. This is your time to be self-centered and
self-important, because yes you are the star and your personal essay revolves around you. Diva. Don’t talk about a particular institution
and why it’s great, don’t talk about a particular franchise and why it’s great,
talk about you. Lots of people can gush about Disney Pixar,
or traveling abroad, or musical theater, or Disney Pixar, but how have those things affected
you individually? Now you can reference those things in your
essay. You can talk about how you’ve been influenced
by Harry Potter and now you want to become a writer. Or you can mention the city that you grew
up in and your environment and how that affected you. But the focus is on who you are as a person,
you are the main character of your story, not the outside entity. Ok so we’ve got that you’re writing an
essay about you and your experience, but you’ve probably got about 18 years of experiences
under your belt. How do you narrow it down from there? Well probably don’t want to dwell on the part
when you were in baby diapers, no one remembers much from then anyway. And then the common app has several prompts
for you to work from, and even if your college doesn’t take the common app, these can be
a good place to start. As of the filming of this video, there are
2 catch all questions that really leave the door open for you to write whatever, and then
there are 5 more specific questions. I’m not going to list them all out but they’ll
be in the blog post that accompanies this video and is linked in the description. After looking at the prompts, there’s actually
something that all 5 more specific prompts have in common. Can you spot it? Hmm? Hmm? Hmm? Come on, pop quiz, this is college prep y’all. The 5 topics are all about growth. They’re about finding a solution to a problem,
learning about a new topic, changing your beliefs, learning from failure. They ask for a situation that’s been transformative
for you, where you are a different person now because of the role that this thing, or
idea, or event played in your life journey. And the other two prompts leave the topic
completely wide open, wide open, wide open, but again I would stick to something that
demonstrates how you’ve grown or changed or how something’s developed you as a person. The open prompts allow you to explain a particular
outstanding circumstance or part of your background, but even with that, you can show some sort
of cause and effect relationship of how part of your identity has impacted you. As long as it meets those criteria, nothing
is off limits, no experience is too big or too small. You could talk about an impactful sports meet,
or arts program, you could talk about something you learned traveling abroad, or something
you learned while working a summer job in retail. If you have childhood memories of war, you
can talk about how that’s affected you. You can talk about growing up in the projects. As long as it’s part of your story and true
to who you are, it’s fair game. Gotta getcha, getcha head in the game I mean it’s High School musical, I think it’s
relevant And just as important as what you write about
is how you write about it – which I’ll get to in a minute. But as you’re picking your topic, one of
my secrets to a perfect essay and my strong suggestion, is that you write about one particular
moment. As opposed to talking about a topic that has
impacted you broadly, or how you’ve grown more generally, try and focus on one moment,
one project, one event, one particular time frame. That will make it easier for you to be specific
to a unique experience, and it will make it easier to follow the next tip. My other recommendation and secret to a stellar
essay, is that you should literally tell a story, as in your essay should read like a
narrative. You should hook the reader at the beginning,
make them curious to continue, and then set the scene. I mean, think about it, the admissions officer
is reading dozens of essays a day of people introduce themselves and say that one experience
that I learned from and overcame a failure is a time in 10th grade where one time I was
preparing for a competition and Zzzzz They probably get bored out of their mind! And they can only spend a few minutes on each
essay, so yours should be something that engages them and catches their attention right away. Starting in the middle of the action and then
going back to give context is a great strategy, although there are other ways to hook the
reader, so feel free to get creative. There should be a beginning, middle, and end
to the story. You are the main character and you should
go through character development, which ties into this being about growth and change, cause
and effect. Let us into your mind, this is first person
omniscient. What were you thinking in that moment, what
were you struggling with, what rushed through your head, what kept you up at night? When you take an action how did you do it,
were you eager? Did you hesitate? Did your fingers tingle, did your heart race,
did your eyes glaze over? And as you’re telling your narrative, don’t
just recount but reflect. Things should tie back to how you’ve developed
and what you’ve learned. This is a time to show your personality, both
in the content and the quality. In your reflection on your story, it’s great
to show skills like tenacity, discipline, leadership, self-awareness, working well with
others, communication skills etc. And in telling your story, you have the opportunity
to showcase your writing style. This is a creative exercise, use your voice. You don’t need to use big words that make
you sound smart or give you a half British accent out of the blue. It should sound like you, your style should
be informed by your unique perspective and writing tendencies. Feel free to take poetic license and use literary
devices that feel natural. In the end, make sure this is an essay that
only you can write. It is after all a personal essay, so it should
be true to who you are as a person. “True to your heart, you must be true to
your heart” Both in relating to your personal experience
and transformation, and in infusing your personality into how you tell the story, your essay should
be as specific and unique to you as possible, to the point where if someone else submitted
your essay, they would be straight up lying. And don’t let me catch you lying on a college
app. Umh umh umh. If you’re new here and you’re interested
in young adulting tips, social issues, and culture then you should subscribe to get new
videos from me every Thursday. And a string of Harvard and school advice
videos are coming out in a couple weeks, so stay tuned for those. Huge thanks to my patreon patrons, you all
are so important in sustaining this channel. My patrons names are in the description. And if you want to help out and join the patreon
fam, it’d be much appreciated. As always, remember to live spiritedly and
think creatively, and I will see you next time. What’s making me happy this week is NFL players
using their first amendment rights to peacefully protest in however way they see fit. #TakeAKnee. And I’m just personally happy because I had
a good week last week, it was chill and I feel at peace, which is good. Well, I’m going to go be an editing diva and
get this thing out the door. I’ll be right back!

About James Carlton

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79 thoughts on “The Secret to a Stellar College Application Essay – Harvard Grad Tips

  1. This is a good example, but you can't use this exact choice of words, because this was written by Dave Barry:
    It's getting late on a school night, but I'm not letting my son go to bed yet. "Robert," I'm saying in a firm voice, "come to the kitchen right now and blow-dry the ant!"

  2. Watching this just makes me so happy I'm done with that part of my life and never have to stress about college applications again 😂

  3. I hated writing college application essays so much that I only applied to one school! 😂 Fortunately I was accepted and mostly by luck it was a really good fit for me. I love writing, but I find application essays to be soul-sucking.

  4. This is the best college essay advice I've received- I will definitely use this when I finally start writing my essay this weekend- thank you!!

  5. #1 Tip: Come to Germany, uni is free & you don't need to write an essay, just give them your name, possibly high school scores. (***for most subjects/most unis/at least as a German national, there might be requirements to get into study abroad programs. Probably still much cheaper than a US uni though) (also applies to many other countries other than Germany) (and yes, I'm aware that's not an option for many people)
    So, kissing up to a college no, but how about why that particular college in terms of one particular thing they offer in their courses? Like "due to my experience in a shelter for chihuahuas I'd love to take your course of Mexican dog breeding history, over any other dog breeding history course."
    Oh dear this sounds complicated. "Wanna be a maths major? Better take an intensive creative writing class!"

  6. Thank you for this!!! but ahhh it’s so hard to narrow myself down into a single event or moment!!! I have too many ideas, RIP

  7. Normally i'd be annoyed by someone making so many references but you're so genuine and fun! Tysm for the vid 💕 i'm working on my Yale app now

  8. This has been so helpful and have given me the best insight on how to address the college application. Many youtubers who've gone through the process that I've watched have said general tips that yes have been helpful, but not to THIS extent. I love this. Thank you

  9. I'm so not ready for college in the future. I'm for sure going to fail miserably. But I still haven't matured all the way, I'm still a middle schooler. But jeez it sound so tough to get and stay in college.

  10. But I don’t have hat one life-changing moment to write my essay about. I don’t have any talents, passions, or anything else that may lead me to pursue a particular occupation. Im not even in a single AP class…I’m screwed.

  11. Hi, I am a 10th grade student from Poland. Our high school starts at 10th grade and is very challenging. This year I have 16 subjects to pass. We have grades from 1 to 6 and 6 is the best. Most of the time you have to win a competition to get 6. Last year I had the best GPA in my school: 5.67. This semester my GPA will be much lower propably like 4,4- 4,6, maybe even worse because I missed a month of school. I was playing in film ( I played in many films in my life and I want to continue It) and I had some problems at school. Now I have a problem only with advanced math ( this is the only one advanced subject I have this year, It's normal in Poland and almost everybody in school has a problem with math. My school is one of the best schools in city) and maybe one other subject. Propably I will have 2… My teacher told me that I shouldn't worry so much because I will be better next semester/year and It's normal on my situation, but I am afraid that It destroyes my chances for getting into Harvard or any Ivy.Next month I will find some extra activities, now I volunteer only.
    I want to study science, especially biology and It's one of my passions. I think I have a chance to write SAT well If I improve my English. I want to take many activities and I can tell a lot about working on a film set and my passions, but I'm afraid that my grades won't be so good. Do I still have a chance for getting into Harvard ( or maybe some other Ivy)?

  12. Peace be with you respected Ahsante

    Allow me to began with thanking for the integrity , and the helpful information you shared with us.

    I'm Keriim 19 years of age from Somalia and at the moment living in Malaysia for educational purposes.

    Dear respected Ahsante may you help me out in my application to Yale university.

    I've so many ambitions to achieve in modern Science invention and I see apart from hard-studying , studying in high quality university and getting Educational help could significantly play role in making my dreams true.

    Hope i may hear you soon regarding my request.

    Regards, Keriim.

  13. Hey I am currently very stressed about writing my college essays lol and I have a quick question. I feel that my passion for science and learning is probably the most defining part of my character, BUT I don't want my essay to seem broad, cliche, or like I am just trying to impress the college! Do you think if I told the story about the time at a science museum when I realized how excited science made me that this topic would be specific enough? Btw I wrote a full essay this morning about how adopting a positive mindset has changed my life then trashed it bc I know that is too cliche hahha helpppp. This was a very helpful video btw!!

  14. Would I be able to write about how I'm culturally homeless and practically from nowhere? Would admissions officers be able to connect with me on that?

  15. Bless your advice and your hard work. Why doesn't Harvard sponsor this video? Such good information that is helping me very much as I work on my essays. Thank you!!!

  16. Hey Ahsante! Great video. Would this video still be the same, for people applying to Masters degree, and the Statement of Purpose that goes along with it?

  17. This is the best video I have seen so far on college application essays. I'm in the process of writing my common app essay at this very moment and I was looking for videos to give me inspiration as I did not feel as though what I am writing is good enough. This video really helped me get out of that mindset. Thank you!

  18. Does anyone know if it is still possible to get into prestigious colleges (such as MIT and Stanford) if I have a 3.8 GPA?

  19. Hey Ahsante,
    Thanks a lot for your energy aand amazing videos!☀️
    Can I reach you somehow, maybe email? Have a veeery important question to ask, would be super-grateful if u could answer
    Thank u💫

  20. Hi! I'm an Indian student and I got rejected from Harvard (I had applied through the early action program). I am scared to apply to other colleges now cuz I am not sure what went wrong in my application to Harvard. My SAT Score was average (1530) and I can't improve that now. I thought my essay was good, but apparently not. Can you please read my essay and tell me what you think of it? It would be a great help. Thanks ❤

  21. You're right! You shouldn't be kissing up to a college during your personal statement. It's better to go for a topic that is about you and important to you!

  22. You really need to stop close your eyes when you talk. maintaining eye contact is an important thing to be more convincing otherwise, that was so helpful thank you.

  23. you are such a lovely and beautiful person btw. very helpful but also you just seem like such a great human.

  24. WOW I love your videos. By the way, I need someone who can edit my essay. Anyone Volunteer? Please reply with your email. I will so much happy

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