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Help This Sparkler Edit An Application Essay About Alzheimer's

By: Miss Marm

Sarah needs help with her application essay. Read it over and leave your suggestions in the comments!

I'm writing for the "Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you" prompt.
I have exactly 500 words (I hope!) and I feel like it's kind of crappy, just because I did it in two hours. Hopefully you can help my squelch it down!

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Application Essay: Shuffle Shame

By: Miss Marm

Kelly's essay is about taste, judgment, snobbery...and Brit-Brit. Check it out!

Shuffle Shame, as defined by Urban Dictionary—“Shuffle shame is when your mp3 music player is playing on speakers in shuffle mode, and somebody enters the room at the exact moment the worst song of your collection is being played.” Though seemingly a trivial embarrassment, an experience with shuffle shame had an unexpectedly powerful impact on me, and considerably altered the way I think about others’ perceptions of me.

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Application Essay: Booty Talk

By: Miss Marm

Since reading this essay a few weeks ago, I've thought about it a lot. That might be because Fiona is my soul sister (like her, I'm a nerdy feminist Hot 97 addict who feels kind of guilty about listening to misogynist lyrics for hours and hours every day), but it might be because her essay is interesting and original. Do I just identify with Fiona, or is her essay truly fascinating? Read on and decide!

"Running booty, running booty/ right there, and I ain’t goin’ nowhere/ running booty, running booty/ go for me, go for me, go for me!" starts my favorite song of the moment. The lyrics are rapidly rasped, sung, and yelled over an unrelentingly fast and bass-heavy beat that knocks like a robust and energetic mechanical heart. The song is a rarity on the internet; you’re more likely to find it in an overcrowded club in the back streets of New Orleans blaring live from the speakers than on any blog. Around the artist, you’re just as likely to find a large group of young women dancing in a manner so sexual that its legality seems dubious at best. In short, the track is the pinnacle of “lose-yourself-in-the-beat” perfection. The only problem with my choice is that I’m a middle-class female nerd living in the suburbs.

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Application Essay: Anthem Anxiety

By: Miss Marm

Laura is working on a college application essay about terror, tarnished reputations, and fifth grade. Check it out!

Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

The Anthem of My Elementary Years

All my life I’d prepared for it; from mindlessly completing writing drills, to leading my wagon train through the perilous Oregon Trail simulation. It all culminated in one moment: fifth grade graduation. I wasn’t anticipating the caps fabricated out of gray construction paper, nor was I awaiting the presentation of the coveted Presidential Award. Not being a superstar athlete, or the class clown, I was looking forward to having the spotlight for once. Upon the last day of elementary school, I grasped the microphone in my sweaty hands, with my pulse quickening as I drew in each strained breath. I began, voice wailing, “Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?” I gasped for a quick breath to continue the melody and then… silence.

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Last-Minute Essay Fix

By: Miss Marm

"My applications are due TOMORROW," you say. "How can I possibly improve my essay by then?"

Here are two tips:

1. Replace all the thesaurus words with plain, simple words

2. Take out most of the adjectives and adverbs

Look at this paragraph from a Sparkler's application

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Neither Snotty Nor Saintly

By: Miss Marm

Writing about volunteer work is really tough. You don't want to sound snotty, saintly, clueless, politically correct, or phony. And it's hard not to sound like you're all of those things, even if—especially if—you're passionate about your volunteerism and eager to get across how much it means to you.

This Sparkler, who is writing a college admissions essay, avoids most of the pitfalls of writing about volunteering—but not all. Here's the prompt he's responding to:

One definition of sacrifice is "to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else." In no more than 300 words, describe a time when you put the significant needs of someone else ahead of your own.

Here's his excellent opening

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The Case of the Mystery Santa

By: Miss Marm

This Sparkler's college application essay is long, but I think it's pretty fun to

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Writing About 9/11

By: Miss Marm

If you're a 17- or 18-year-old applying to college this year, the terrorist attacks of September 11 are likely a crucial milestone in your personal history. They happened at a formative time in your youth, and they're probably something you've thought about a lot. You might be tempted to write an application essay about them. And that's okay. But if you do, your essay will have to be amazing. It will have to be a total knockout. Why? Because half of the other applicants are writing September 11 essays,

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