Writing Poems For College Essays

“Families are going through hell right now, and it’s the very personal experiences that will resonate the most.” Then again, Poch adds, “Sympathy isn’t the only reason we let kids in.”Despite what admissions guidebooks tell you, there's no surefire formula to the college essay.

Poch confesses even a small error or two will not necessarily kill your chances of getting in—as long as it's not on purpose.

(A few more: Don't write about mom and dad's divorce, and no general philosophizing—you're 17, get over yourself.) Admissions season is under way, and with early applications deadlines starting November 1, you've only got a few more days to polish your make-or-break essay.

Straight As and stellar SAT scores won't be enough.

The applicant wasn’t the star of the team, Roberts remembers, and didn’t even like playing baseball much.

“But he talked about being nervous and excited at the same time, about how the freshly cut grass reminded him of his grandfather,” Roberts says.

(Scroll down to read the essays, unedited and in full.)You'll need the help: Competition at these schools is fiercer than ever.

For every kid who’s hung prayer flags on a mountain summit in Tibet, there are a dozen others who’ve studied a Bantu language in Rwanda, worked with Guatemalan orphans, cooked with a celebrity chef, or been on reality TV.

“I just felt like I knew him.”Roberts worries that students tend to be too conservative with essays and are afraid to take risks.

“There are no wrong answers here, and the last thing you want is a dry or boring essay,” he says.

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