How to Stand Out From 10,000 Competitor-Applicants

When you submit a college college application, you’re doing much more than applying.

You’re answering one big, gi-normous question.

A question that’t not even ON the Common Application.

However, if you fail to answer this question, you can pretty much kiss off your chances of admission to the college you’ve been dreaming about.

That question:

Tell us why we should take YOU compared to these 5,000, 10,000, even 50,000 other applicants who look substantially the same on paper?

What’s YOUR answer?


Here’s the deal (I chose that word carefully).

Colleges are businesses, despite their non-profit (hah) status.

But here’s the rub:  CHILDREN  – specifically, college applicants – are IN BUSINESS too.

Even if your kiddo doesn’t realize it, he or she is in the business of PROMOTING themselves to the colleges on their list.

College isn’t a meritocracy.  The best students don’t get in where they ‘deserve” automatically. (Just ask Students for Fair Admission, the group behind the lawsuit involving Harvard over alleged discrimination against Asian Americans.)

Getting into college is much about how you MARKET yourself, not your merits (GPA, SAT and ACT scores).

Confession:  Personally, I find this distasteful, which may strike you as ironic, given my profession.  However, I prefer to live in the real world, and this is the way it is here on Planet Earth.

(Who cares how I – or anyone – feels about it, anyway?  That’s just the way it is, no matter how much you complain about it. 🙂

Your last, best opportunity to state your Closing Argument about why YOU are the one who should be invited into the rarefied air of a selective college comes in one format only:  your college essays.

The essays are your last, best shot to showcase your strengths…

…and explain away and/or minimize any weaknesses that could doom your candidacy.

They are also, hands down, the most STRESSFUL aspect of a crazy-stressful college admission system.  And I know why:

I’ll be 100% blunt:  95% of college applicants have NO CLUE what to write about…

…and what NOT to write.

It’s not their fault, though.  The college essay is waaaaay different than the typical English paper that our kids are force-taught to write for four years of secondary school.

In English class, you can get an A on a paper that has a boilerplate introduction, body and conclusion and checks off the correct little boxes on the teacher’s “rubric” (whatever that is, I never understood that for any of my four kids).

But that same paper could turn out to be a colossal FAIL were it submitted as part of a college application!

If you have questions about what admissions officers really want to read in a college essay, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you ask your English teacher, sorry to say.

However I’m head-over-heels happy to announce that, tomorrow night, I’m running a presentation with Sarah Idzik, one of our college essay advisors.

Essay “Secrets” Webinar

Sarah reviewed 1,000 applications per year during her five-year tenure as a college admissions officer at The University of Chicago, one of the most competitive colleges in the country and known for their wacky, esoteric essays.

We’ll run through each of the Common Application essay prompts so you can hear what an actual admissions officer at an elite college wants out of them…and what to AVOID at all costs.

In other words, this class is not based on theory or guesswork. It’s based on real world, in-the-trenches experience.

Sarah’s perspective – having decided whether to admit or deny 1,000 students per year for five years – is a WEE bit different than your average English teacher or other ‘expert’ who has never been In The Room Where It Happens.

Don’t risk your child’s chances of admission on hunches, sign up for our webinar and discover the truth, straight from the horse’s mouth (just please don’t tell Sarah that I implied that she has a horse mouth, it’s just an expression and her mouth is perfectly lovely and quite human).


Please forward/share this unique opportunity with anyone you know who isn’t 100% clear on what to write about in their college essays.

-Andy “Cuckoo for The Common App” Lockwood

P.S.  We’re charging a nominal fee for the essay class, because it’s a unique, valuable opportunity to hear EXACTLY what an admissions officer is hoping for, as opposed to half-baked opinions of parents or other “schmexperts.”  Plus, you can submit your question to Sarah ahead of time and get it answered live (recording available, too).

Here’s where to sign up for this unique class.

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