Students who are serious about applying to ultra-selective schools need to affirmatively articulate - first to themselves, then to the colleges - reasons why schools should want to welcome them. Even so, no one gets in to ultra-selective without a little luck. "Reach" schools are reaches for everyone.
The extra essays colleges and universities ask you to write, beyond the Common Application essay, contain a wealth of information -- for you, not just the colleges. And the most demanding and unusual questions invariably come out of the University of Chicago, where learning for its own sake is valued above all else.
Despite the loss, I persevered. I decided to be the change we had so desperately wanted to see in the world. My dad was someone who listened. So to honor him now, I took his advice and assumed the strength of Assata Shakur. In doing so, I embraced the roots he planted. When my father died, an activist was born.
You're not alone in feeling like you're walking through a treacherous jungle this time of year. When it comes to the college-application essays, many parents believe they're stepping forward onto firm ground, only to discover that they've landed themselves -- and their son or daughter -- in quicksand.