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college

Writing College Essays: Five Myths You Need to Know

Writing College Essays: Five Myths You Need to Know

The college application process is stressful. From deciding on your dream school, prepping for the SAT or ACT, to finishing all those applications, the task can feel near impossible. It's not - and neither is writing a college essay that works. To help our college-bound high school seniors, let's debunk some myths surrounding writing a persuasive college essay.

Myth #1: "I have to write the greatest essay in the world."

Every student wants to stand out, but you don't have to write the Iliad or the Odyssey to do so. The college essay is your opportunity to showcase your achievements and contributions. However, what most people don't realize is that they overindulge and exaggerate when talking about themselves. Admissions offices can read right through self-praise - what they are looking for is authenticity. Emphasize achievements or lessons you have learned that highlight your best traits. Tell a story about your experiences. What have they taught you? The truth sounds a lot better than you think.

Myth #2: "I'm not creative."

You don't have to be creative to write a successful college essay; but you have to be personable. Don't regurgitate the same answers for every application. Admissions offices can tell when an application has been recycled. Add your own flair to each essay. Whether that be in your tone, content, or writing style, be sure to do something unique with each essay so that your reader remembers it.

Myth #3: "I should limit my number of applications because college applications are expensive."

You're right, applying to college gets expensive - but just like scholarships, there is money out there for applying to college too! If applying to college is out of your budget, contact the admissions office of the school you're applying to. They can give you forms to apply for a fee waiver. The process may seem cumbersome, but a free application will be worth it.

Myth #4: "I can wait until tomorrow."

Just do it now. Are you one of those people who writes something ingenious at the last minute? Your brain actually works better when you exercise it. That exercise will make your ingenuity a habit instead of something that saves you when you're under pressure. Your college essay does not have to be perfect the first time. Prioritize consistency over the grandiose last-minute essays and the result will be a well-written and concise articulation of why your dream school needs you.

Myth #5: "I have to know what I want to study."

No, you really don't. If you know what you want to study, good for you! However, having your mind made up about your future has no sway on your ability to write a persuasive college essay. A large part of college is figuring out what you want to do - that's why you're going. So when you write, talk about your interests and passions to showcase your potential. Try adding how you think the school will help you hone these interests. That way, your application will be unique and tailored to the school.

See? Writing college essays isn't as intimidating as it may seem. Keep these myth busters in mind the next time you're stressed about the college application process and you'll be good to go. Remember to always run your essays through a proofreading service like Scholly Editor for the finishing touches!

Need help paying for college after you get in? Get matched to scholarships instantly when you build a profile on Scholly.

Get the Inside Scoop on Campus-life: Tips for Incoming College Freshmen

Get the Inside Scoop on Campus-life: Tips for Incoming College Freshmen

We hope our college-bound high school grads are considering taking part in pre-freshman programs. These programs give you a chance to learn during the summer and get better acquainted with the school and some of your future peers. If you are not yet convinced  you will want to keep reading. These tips are useful for both college-bound and high school students. 

Pre-freshmen programs often target students that colleges feel will benefit strongly from a nurturing head start. Maybe you’re a first-gen college student or you went to a less competitive high school. That doesn’t mean you’re not ready for college. It simply means you may need some help getting started. Summer Bridge and Pre-Freshman programs are designed to introduce students to the academic expectations of their colleges in a smaller, more structured environment. During the program you will be on campus with a few dozen other incoming students. You’ll receive mentoring from faculty and peers, be introduced to important support offices and resources, and build your confidence. By the time the rest of your class arrives, you’ll have already settled in. Some pre-freshman programs can even be done for academic credit.

If you can’t make it because of travel, work, or some other conflict, that’s perfectly fine. Maximize your summer time with family or save up as much as possible from your summer job. But don’t turn down this opportunity simply because you don’t feel like doing school work in August. If you haven’t been keeping up with your mail and didn’t even know about pre-freshmen programs, stop reading this and open up those letters from school!   

For high school students, you can find similar college readiness programs held during the days on a campus near you or overnight on campuses nationwide. College readiness programs will give you a good introduction to college life, making your eventual transition easier. Look out for these opportunities and add them to your summer calendars.

And remember, summer is a great time to apply for scholarships! 

OneMain + Scholly present: 4 Important College Costs to Consider

OneMain + Scholly present: 4 Important College Costs to Consider

 
 

When searching for one’s ideal college or university, cost is often a significant factor. In some cases, it may impact a student’s choice of which school to attend. To get an idea of the cost of college, check out the following infographic we created with our content partner, OneMain Financial:

 
   Sources:  BigFuture  (1),  BigFuture  (2),  Federal Student Aid
 

Understanding the details of college costs could help students and parents create a financial plan for the road ahead. Here is some more information on four important college costs to consider:

1.  Tuition & Fees

When it comes to college costs, tuition is typically one of the largest expenses. Area of study, the amount of credit hours and type of school can all factor into the final cost of tuition(1). And as the infographic states, the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can vary significantly.

A student's chosen major can also affect the cost of tuition. Enrolling in the sciences and fine arts will typically cost more than other majors(2). For instance, an engineering student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign paid nearly $5,000 more in tuition during the 2016-2017 school year than students in other majors(2). Fees can vary per student as well, depending on the school. To better understand what fees could apply, here are some examples:

  • Registration fees
  • Student services fees
  • Student organization fees
  • Endowment fees

Scholarships and grants can offer financial relief for eligible students. In addition to Scholly, our scholarship matching platform, there are several sources for obtaining federal grants. For more information on eligibility and how to apply, reference the websites for Federal Student Aid and the U.S. Department of Education.

2.  Living Expenses

A recent study by The College Board showed that over 50% of a college student’s budget can be spent on housing. There are a variety of factors that influence housing costs and the difference in price can vary significantly. For example, a student attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN could save nearly 70% on housing costs by living off-campus(3). However, a student attending Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA would pay 50% more in housing costs if they lived off-campus(3).

Although housing will likely be the largest college living expense, there are others to be aware of and prepare for. Here are some other living expenses to keep in mind:

  • Utilities (electricity, gas, internet)
  • Food
  • Toiletries

3.  Books & Supplies

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the average college student can expect to pay over $1,200 a year for books and supplies(4). Although this total represents common supplies such as course materials and calculators, it does not include the cost of a laptop and other items. Fortunately, there are ways for students to lessen the impact of these costs. Here are a few suggestions to help lower the cost of books and supplies:

  1. Online search tools - Websites like BookFinder.com allow you to type in different search queries including author and book title to find used books for sale. Once you find the book you need, you can compare prices and choose from several different online marketplaces.
  2. Split the cost with a friend or classmate - If you know someone enrolled in the same class as you, see if they’re interested in splitting the cost of the book. It may be useful to create a schedule of when each person has the book so you can both accomplish your studying goals.
  3. Rent your books - Renting can be a good way to save on book costs. If you go this route, just make sure the version or edition you’re renting is the correct one for the course. Also, keep in mind that you may incur fees if the book is not returned in the same condition in which it was received.
  4. Buy used supplies - Gently used or refurbished items can be bought at discounted rates. If you’re looking to save money on school supplies, try searching for used supplies online or in local thrift stores.

4.  Additional expenses

College life outside of the classroom will cost money as well. Whether creating a financial plan for a semester or an entire college career, it’s important to plan for all costs associated with being a student.

Creating a budget for additional expenses could lessen the impact on your overall finances. For tips on how to get started and stay on track, check out our blogs on building a budget and sticking to a budget. The needs per student may differ but here are some potential additional expenses for college students to be aware of:

  • Clothing & laundry
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Extracurricular activities


RESEARCH AND PREPARE!

When considering the costs of college, it’s helpful to gather all the facts. Every student may have their own unique situation but understanding how to plan effectively for college costs can be useful today and in the future. Good luck!  


  1. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/quick-guide-college-costs
  2. http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/cost-of-off-campus-housing-in-college-2015-9
  4. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/01/28/report-high-textbook-prices-have-college-students-struggling