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Elizabeth Benedict
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Elizabeth Benedict is a novelist, journalist, editor and writing coach. She runs Don't Sweat the Essay and is editor of the anthology, Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives, as well as author of five critically acclaimed novels. Hallie Ephron in the Boston Globe called her most recent novel, The Practice of Deceit "a wickedly funny literary suspense novel" that is "wry, at times heartbreaking, always smart and entertaining." "Newsweek and Fresh Air's" Maureen Corrigan chose her previous novel, the bestseller Almost, one of the top five novels of 2001.

Her first novel, Slow Dancing>, published in 1985, was shortlisted for the National Book Award. She is also the author of several other novels and of a classic book, The Joy of Writing Sex , which is used widely in writing programs. She has taught fiction and non-fiction writing at Princeton, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Swarthmore College, and Columbia, and has written for The New York Times, Daedalus, Salmagundi, Esquire, Tin House, Harper's Bazaar, and The American Prospect.

Entries by Elizabeth Benedict

5 Pieces of Good News From a College Admissions Application Essay Counselor

(1) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 4:04 PM

I'm taking a guess that all rising high school seniors not glued to the World Cup are either fretting about their college app essays, casting glances at the essay prompts, or trying to put the darn essays as far out of their summer vacationing minds as possible.

The bad...

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From JFK to Kwasi Enin: The College Admissions Application Essay Grows Up

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 5:25 PM

In a recent conversation with a parent who was thinking ahead to when her eighth grader applies to college, she said that she had read the application essay by the Long Island boy who got into eight Ivy League schools, and she thought "the essay was terribly written." She wanted...

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International Students: Top 10 Tips for U.S. College Applications

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 6:16 PM

International applicants to U.S. colleges and universities face unique challenges. Standardized tests are not offered as frequently, test prep is not widely available outside the U.S., and the entire process is more complex than it is in most other countries. Elizabeth and Josh have...

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Teachable Moments: Kwasi Enin's College Application Essay

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 3:02 PM

It's wonderful -- and rare -- that the airwaves, Internet and twitter-sphere are abuzz with the story of a young person's academic success instead of, say, a celebrity's wardrobe malfunction: Kwasi Enin's Ivy League grand slam. How many kids get into all eight Ivies? It's a small sample pool, because...

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The Morning After: Ivy League Hangovers, College App Essays and SATs

(1) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 1:48 PM

As someone who works with many dozens of hopeful high school seniors every year, which often means talking to parents when they are concerned about how their sons and daughters are doing on their essays and applications, yesterday, waiting for the Ivies to make their announcements, was a stressful day....

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Justin Bieber's Out of Jail - But We're Not

(0) Comments | Posted January 25, 2014 | 9:16 AM

The whirring of helicopters woke me before the alarm at 7:45 Thursday morning -- my last hours in South Beach, Miami, the end of a two-week time out from real life. I'd built in enough time to take a long walk and soak up as much sun as I could...

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Confessions of a College Application Essay Coach

(2) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 9:57 AM

'Tis the season for applying to college, and everyone and his mother have got the "How Do I Write My Application Essay Blues."

The killer personal statement, now a hot commodity, may be the most popular literary genre on our virtual shelves, at least between July and November of...

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New Common Application 'a Monstrosity'? I Don't Think So

(5) Comments | Posted September 2, 2013 | 5:22 PM

I was taken aback to see this global take-down of the new Common Application on Twitter this morning, by a college counselor. A quote from his article: "The new Common App is a monstrosity."

I don't agree with some of his complaints, and I question the wisdom...

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I Heart the College Admissions Essay Prompts on the New Common Application

(7) Comments | Posted August 9, 2013 | 5:19 PM

I know that the new Common Application website has had its share of troubles since launching on August 1, and I'm not sure they are all fixed by now. From all I've seen, one part of the new application that is a big success is the list of new essay...

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Countdown to August 1 for College Admissions Applicants: Common App Essays and Supplements Go Live

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 4:55 PM

The Fourth of July and Labor Day used to be the only two dates in summer that most of us paid attention to, but August 1 is fast becoming a summer landmark for rising high school seniors and their often frantic families. As all of them know, it's the day...

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Writing College Application Essays on Summer Vacay? Yes.

(15) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 4:25 PM

Summer vacation isn't what it used to be, or what it should be: A time to kick back, recharge the internal batteries that keep us going for the rest of the year, daydream while canoeing across a pristine lake, and imagine the edges of the universe while staring up at...

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Conversations With Women Who Miss Their Mothers

(2) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 11:43 AM

The orphans of literature are lucky. They have no one telling them when to do their homework, what time to go to bed or not to talk to strangers.

From Cinderella to Pippi Longstocking, and from Mary Lennox in the Secret Garden to Margot Livesey's Flight of Gemma Hardy, children...

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A Book My Grandmother Would Like -- Finally!

(0) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 5:48 PM

My grandmother never used to phone me, so when I heard her voice on the phone that night in 1985, I was startled.

"I just read your book," she said sharply, "and I don't like it." She meant my first novel, Slow Dancing, which had recently been published by...

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Hollywood Goes to College and Oh, the Application Essays They Write!

(5) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 5:51 PM

I was afraid to see Denzel Washington's recent movie, Flight, because of the flying-the-plane-upside-bit that's at the heart of the story. But when I heard that it was only a brief segment in an otherwise character-driven movie, I gave in -- and kept my eyes shut tight during that scene....

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What My Mother Gave Me

(1) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 5:03 PM

It is said that all books begin with an obsession, and What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most is no exception.

In this case, it's a beautiful winter scarf my mother gave me toward the end of her life, probably the...

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Marco Roth's Vanished New York in 'The Scientists'

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 11:54 AM

Profound, intricate, literary, a little gossipy and more than a little heartbreaking -- such is Marco Roth's echt New York memoir, The Scientists, in which he struggles to make sense of the central burden of his life as an only child in a privileged Upper West Side family....

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College Application Essays: Three Dos and Three Don'ts

(2) Comments | Posted October 5, 2012 | 4:06 PM

For high school seniors and their families, 'tis the season for a certain kind frantic extracurricular activity: cranking out college application essays. The notorious Common App Essay -- 250 to 500 words -- has replaced the sonnet, the novel, and the screenplay as the most popular literary form of the...

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Plan, Don't Panic: 7 1/2 Tips for Your College Application Essays (There Isn't Just One!)

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2012 | 1:11 PM

How important is your college application essay? My favorite comment from an admissions officer in a top college says it all: "A good essay can heal the sick but it can't raise the dead." Translation: It can move a student from the Maybe pile to the Yes pile, but it...

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Alimony for Cohabiters, Still, in 2012

(203) Comments | Posted June 8, 2012 | 2:00 PM

Alimony is one of the most charged words in the English language. A word that opens the door to all kinds of heartache. Divorce. Lawyers. Money. Dependence. Resentment. Who owes what to whom, for how long and under what circumstances?

Connecticut's antiquated alimony laws -- like those of...

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The New Alimony Laws In MA -- And Maybe In FL, NJ, CT, And OR?

(176) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 11:50 AM

"So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war?" Abraham Lincoln is said to have asked Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1849, was an instant bestseller and dramatized the horrors of slavery for all to see, years before the fighting...

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