Turns out commencement speeches and application essays have a lot in common.

Turns out commencement speeches and application essays have a lot in common.

I’m struck by the similarities between graduation speeches and college application essays. While the former can be up to four times as long as your typical application piece, the parallels are several. Here I explore that notion, with help from the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Shonda Rhimes, and others.

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Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

College Decision Day is May 1, and many students still aren't sure what they'll be doing come September. This month, I offer up some advice, with help from Admissions Mom, one of the expert college counselors working with students via the sub-Reddit Applying To College.

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Application deadlines loom, and it’s still not (all) about the prompts.

Application deadlines loom, and it’s still not (all) about the prompts.

The standard due date for Early Action and Early Decision applications is typically November 1—two weeks from today. If your student plans to meet that deadline but has hit a wall with the writing sections, it may be time to find an alternate route.

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The Costco essay

The Costco essay

Last month, a Business Insider article about a college application essay went viral. BI reported that because of her essay, Brittany Stinson of Wilmington, Delaware, was admitted to five Ivy League universities (Yale, Dartmouth, UPenn, Cornell, and Columbia) as well as Stanford, academic powerhouses with notoriously competitive acceptance rates.

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When are you at your most creative?

When are you at your most creative?

My friend Gina Barreca, a syndicated columnist, often polls her Facebook followers, many of them professional writers, when she’s researching one of her columns. Recently, she asked friends to identify circumstances that allow them to do their most creative work, and I knew I would have to respond.

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It’s not about the prompts.

It’s not about the prompts.

So, they’re out—the five essay prompts in the 2015-16 Common Application. Click here to give them a glance and get the gist. But don’t hit PRINT. I mean, sure, go ahead if you want to, but don’t post them on the fridge next to the calendar of July/August college visits. Forget about the prompts (for now).

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