Listen to this useful 30 minute conversation between three first-year college students and my student, a rising senior. The three discuss their approaches to the application writing process, give detailed advice and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Two of them currently attend Columbia University in New York City and one attends Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Helping Screenagers Write Killer College Entrance Essays
by Treasure Shields Redmond

Dr. Amy Morgenstern at Blue Stars Admissions Consulting

The Goal is to Become More Powerful Critical Writers, Readers and Thinkers

How to Evaluate Critical Reading & Writing:

These are the items students and I will be looking for over the course of working together. We will talk about and identify these as we are doing them and learning them—and we will use these as a checklist to make sure we are making progress with them over time:

• Learn to distinguish between questions of fact and questions of interpretation.
• Learn to pose and respond to both kinds of questions.
• Learn to do research in order to responsibly address both kinds of questions
• Learn to distinguish between opinion and thought; a view and an argument
• Learn to recognize and discuss what new things students learn from reading
• Depth of thought: Ability to engage with what one reads or writes beyond the obvious or superficial level—this requires all of the critical thinking skills above, and Imagination (below)

[This can occur in many ways including interview writing and reading, letter-writing, newspaper reading, and discussion, reading of the graphic novels and other books]

• All writing is stronger when it uses imagination. This is a muscle that is practiced through the use of metaphor, similie and specificity of detail.

[It may be counter intuitive but practicing to be imaginative in writing requires practicing the art of revision—getting use to making many drafts of a given piece of writing—and practicing using all of the Mechanics listed below]

• Organization: rearranging sentences, paragraphs, attending to transitions in the whole piece
• Learning to do careful revision—becoming stronger at revising on your own
• Proofreading together and independently
• Getting more detailed and more specific in thought and argument
• Coherence: Becoming increasingly aware of how a piece of writing hangs together—how the different pieces fit with themselves so it reads as if organized naturally

[All of the above are being practiced with all of Kaylee’s writing. Even reading helps Kaylee learn grammar and the mechanics of writing]

• Figuring out for yourself—without the teacher! —what you can do to take your thinking, writing, and curiosity even further
• We will regularly discuss examples of how you can be a more independent thinker and student and practice these strategies

The Open Book Fountain. Budapest, Hungary

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