If Not Early, Then What? A Guide to Maximizing Admissions Outcomes

Posted by Carol Barash on Dec 12, 2014 10:50:00 AM

Written by Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO, Story To College, and author of Write Out Loud

This was a crazy fall for college admissions! When the numbers are official, they will show a significant increase in the number of students who applied Early Decision and Early Action, as well as the number of colleges each student applied to early. FLOTUS even added her energy to this movement, leading a walk with students to mail their applications last week, still well ahead of the official deadlines for most colleges.

Colleges for their part were including merit aid along with their early admissions offers in record numbers. Clearly there is a frenzy afoot. Just in case you (or your students or children) didn’t get into your top choice schools early, I’ll be leading a webinar on Wednesday, December 17, from 7 - 8pm EST to walk students through the key steps they can take over the next month to optimize their admission and scholarship outcomes, including:

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Topics: what admissions officers are looking for, webinars, tips and tricks, early admission

5 College Essay Writing Tips for First-Gen Students from Admission Experts

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Dec 11, 2014 7:04:00 PM

 Written by Jocelyn Johnson, Social Media Coordinator, Story2

#TBT to last Thursday's #FirstGenOfficeHour Twitter chat hosted by I'm First!. I participated in the hour long Q & A forum, which focused on “What’s In A Personal Statement and College Essay?” essay writing tips for first-generation college students, on behlaf of Story2. Other participants included Carlos O. Cano, WPUNJ Admissions Counselor, Eric R. Felix, USC Rossier PhD candidate, and Soka Admissions, to name a few. 

Below are my 5 favorite questions and their answers from the chat. Be sure to check out the official recap here.

Question 1:  Why are essays and personal statements a major part of the college application process?

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Topics: college admission essay, essay writing tips, first generation college students

How to Write Application Essays that Capture the Attention of Admissions Officers

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Dec 9, 2014 6:48:00 PM

By Jocelyn Johnson, Social Media Coordinator, Story2
Your college applications are due in 22 days (or less), so I’ll get right to it! Here’s how to write admission and scholarship essays that will keep your readers (aka admissions officers) engaged from the first sentence to the very last word.

1) Begin with a Magnet

A magnet, like a magnet in real life, is the first sentence of your essay, which draws readers into your world and invites them to share your story.

Needs improvement:  Sometimes, it’s the lives of others that bring out the best in you.

Good to go:  I sat down at the base of the tree, whistling her favorite tune and listening to the birds echoing me with their chirping.

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Topics: college admissions essay, college admission, writing application essays, application essay, essay writing tips

10 Admissions Trends for 2015

Posted by Carol Barash on Dec 2, 2014 6:21:56 PM

Written by Carol Barash, Founder and CEO of Story2and author of Write Out Loud

Nothing in admissions moves at the speed of revolution. But we still expect to see the process evolving, with long-term trends intensifying. Here are the ten trends we at Story2 expect to dominate the coming year.


1. “Early everything” will overtake “Early Decision.” While colleges may not literally advance application deadlines, the culture of college applications has shifted. Students, teachers, counselors, parents--everyone gets started earlier, often at a more frenzied pace. and setting a more anxious tone for the 2015 admissions cycle.

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Topics: college admission essay, college admission, supplement essays, college process

Thanksgiving Memories - Hide And Seek

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Nov 28, 2014 3:00:00 PM

Written by Jocelyn Johnson


“3...2...1… Okay, here I come!” I call out and uncover my eyes. I scan the living room. And after about five seconds, I see a shadow of 5 small fingers directly behind the couch. I start walking slowly in that direction. “Evan, I’m going to find you!” I say in a sing-song voice as the floor creaks beneath my feet. Just as I reach the couch prepared to say “gotcha!”, my little cousin screams, giggles, and darts out from behind it. And, a simple game of hide-and-seek evolves into a drawn out game of capture the cousin.

Ten minutes and several laps around the house later, I finally caught him. “Gotcha!” I laughed as I lifted him into the air. At three years-old, he’s not as light as he used to be, but I know that this time next year I might not be able to pick him up anymore. So we spin around a few times before I return him to the ground. “Let’s play again,” he pleads.

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Thanksgiving Memories - The Backpack

Posted by Matt Gordon on Nov 28, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Written by Matt Gordon


Thanksgiving vacation is always a great opportunity to take my laundry home to my parent’s house, rather than having to haul it up and down five flights of stairs and four city blocks in order to pay $7 to do it at a New York laundromat. So I run home from work on Tuesday, and fill my 75L Osprey hiking pack with the socks scattered across the floor of my room until it is taller than I am.

I lift the pack onto my knee and slide it on gently so as not to twist my back. I buckle the waist strap so that my legs hold the weight rather than my shoulders. Fully loaded it weighs 65 pounds, but I once walked 18 miles down a remote stretch of Pacific coastline carrying this pack. The frame is molded to my torso.

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Thanksgiving Memories - Turkey Day

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Nov 28, 2014 1:38:00 PM

Written by Christopher Fox


I stood at the dining room window, Sunday morning coffee in my hand, watching eight turkeys strut in a loose group from the neighboring woods onto my lawn. The hens and toms negotiated for seeds and various edible findings in the grass, occasionally stopping to groom each other. In response to secret turkey triggers unknown to me, from time to time the toms displayed their feathers, to their companions or to no one in particular. Who knows? I smiled.

With my coffee growing colder, and my Sunday errands list more looming, I went to the kitchen to take inventory for my final pre-Thanksgiving grocery run. Canned pumpkin, check. Pie crusts, check. Peas and potatoes, check. And I slid the short scrap of paper listing cranberry sauce and turkey into my pocket.

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Don’t Do Anything On Auto-Pilot

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Nov 26, 2014 11:30:00 AM

In an interview with Princeton University Career Services, Carol Barash, Story to College Founder, CEO, comments on how to thrive at Princeton, or any school.



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8 Facts About The Neuroscience Of Storytelling

Posted by Matt Gordon on Nov 24, 2014 2:00:00 PM

1. A good story causes your brain to release a chemical that makes you more empathetic.
A team of researchers in the UK found that the brains of people who listened to character driven stories released oxytocin, a chemical that is connected to feelings of love and empathy.

2. Stories that use sensory details engage more parts of the brain than facts.
Details that help the audience to see and experience the story from the character’s point of view can engage the sensory, motor, visual, auditory, and olfactory sections of the cortex. It’s almost as if you were there too!
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How to Write Your College Essay About A Difficult Topic

Posted by Jocelyn Johnson on Nov 19, 2014 12:27:00 PM

Jamie,* a  student in my college essay writing course, pulled me to the side. “So I think I know what I want to write about now, but I’m not sure,” she said. “What’s your idea?” I asked. She looked around the room and whispered, “Sophomore year I got addicted to diet pills, but can I tell that story?”

Every year students ask us how personal should they get in their college essay, especially when it comes to the first Common App prompt. When you have a story so central to your identity but it’s about a really personal topic, it can be hard to decide whether or not to write about it. Before you get started, try telling your story out loud in front of a mirror first. Do you feel comfortable telling this story?

Remember, admissions officers want to get to know you—the real you. So if you are ready to share your story, go for it! Use these four guidelines that we've learned from coaching over 14,00 students.

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Topics: college essay

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