N 0:00

Okay, so he already asked me a pop up said to me, do you consent for this to be recorded? And I had to say yes. But I’ll ask. I’ll ask it anyway. Okay.

Hi, Jeremy, how you doing?

J 0:19
I’m doing fine. Thank you.

N 0:21
Okay, before we start, just gonna ask you for consent for this video, basically, I will ask you that, if you’re okay with us sharing it on our digital platforms, and on public digital platforms like YouTube, etc. Are you okay with that? Jeremy,

J 0:37
I’m absolutely okay with that, you can go ahead and share this, this interview.

N 0:42
Thank you so much. Um, okay, we’re gonna start now formally.

J 0:49
Hi, there. Thank you, Jeremy Hancock for joining us. Before we start with the questions around college essays really be kind enough to introduce yourself to our listeners.

Yes, gladly. As you just heard, my name is Jeremy Hancock. I’m a college counselor. I’ve been in the profession just over 20 years. When I first started, I was working in an American International School. And I moved on to sort of normal IB international schools. And I’m currently working at the Vienna International School in Austria. It’s one of the largest international schools in Europe.

N 1:27

Going on your vast years of experience, could you explain to us what role a college essay plays in the student’s overall application?

J 1:38
Yes, a US applications are what we call holistic applications. They’re not based solely on one factor like a student’s predicted grade. What the US applications really consists of is a whole row of information, all of which is factored into the decision as to whether to offer a student a place at that particular college. For example, an admissions tutor will have access to the student’s grades, because the high school college counselor will have sent these in the admissions tutor will also see the information naturally that the student has submitted personal details, etc, etc. And they may well also at this stage have seen the SAT or ACT scores where appropriate. But all of this really is a little impersonal. The importance of the college essay is that the tutors actually want to get to know you, the student as a person, not just just numbers on a transcript. So this is your big chance to actually sell yourself and to talk to the admissions tutors. So they get to understand what motivates you, what drives you, and what sort of person you are.

N 2:58

Most of the students following this interview will be applying for us colleges through the common app. They will therefore have to choose one of the essay prompts listed on their website. What tips Could you give a student who is puzzled as to which they should choose?

J 3:18
And I think most students are actually puzzled as to which they should choose. And they often ask me the question like, Is there a preferred question or which one should I do? Well, first of all, there’s no preferred question. There’s usually six or seven options offered each year by the College Board and on the common app, but I would say that probably most us college essay prompts revolve around a certain fairly restricted list of topics. For example, they might ask you what is your proudest moments or greatest achievements? Or they may go down the route of asking you what distinguishes you from all the other students? Or perhaps they’ll say, what was a difficult time in your life? And how did you experience this? And how did you grow and overcome the problem?

Perhaps they might ask you to write about your favorite book or movie, but more particularly how that book or movie influenced you. Then again, they might ask you about a life changing moment and how you see things differently after having experienced that life changing moment. What is your most noticeable character trait? This is a very difficult one for any person to answer honestly, because we sort of see ourselves in a certain light, and we normally like to see ourselves in a positive light. I think if you were to attempt a question based on character trait, it’s probably good idea to ask your friends to describe you.

The Good, the Bad, and the perhaps less good as well.

Who do you admire?


N 5:01
So what advice do you give them to making that selection?

J 5:07
And the the for the overall general advice would be, they need to pick a topic that speaks to them, the students something which is personal, something which you the student can support with concrete examples. It’s much better and much easier for the student to write from personal experience, rather than trying to take something which is a little more obtuse I would say. So, please, as a student, always go for something which is personal because your listener or rather, your reader will actually want to hear about you.

N 5:47
Thank you. That’s great advice.

Um, students will in many cases also have to write essays or essays for individual colleges and universities that they apply to. Do you have any insider tips for writing these college specific essays?

J 6:05
Yes, in addition to the tips I’ve just given for the common app essay, I would say that you also need to consider each college essay is going to be a standalone essay is going to be different. You can’t just think I’m going to write one essay and send it out to a dozen different colleges, it doesn’t work that way. Each one needs to be written as an individual essay. Before you set off. To do that, you need to really research that college you need to understand the ethos of the college, what the college is looking for, what type of college it is, and then you need to make sure that your essay fits into what the college is, and what they are looking for. In other words, you need to personalize your essay to each individual college.

N 7:00
And what’s the best way to personalize an essay practically

J 7:05
in terms of writing an essay, or personalizing an essay, if we go back to the beginnings you’re all familiar Of course with writing essays for English class in school, and I’m quite sure your English teachers will have trained you into the basics of essay writing. And at the end of the day, the college essay is another essay. So you then have to get the basics you need to consider purpose, audience content and register. These are the basics of any piece of writing the purpose? Well, the purpose naturally is to persuade the admissions tutor to offer you a place the audience Well, again, that’s the admissions tutor. The content, the content really depends on what the essay topic or title is. And then the register to register means, you know, the the level of language you’re going to be using. You don’t have to swallow at the source you just have to write in normal, correct, academic English. So let’s stop there a second.

N 8:13
Um, what advice can you give specifically to a student with regards to planning, and then the writing of college?

J 8:24
I would say first of all, have a look at the the essay prompt the essay title that you’ve selected from the the list of possibilities. And then ask yourself, what is this essay title actually asking me, because far too many students wander away from the title. And it’s very important that you are focused on the title. So now you’ve got that idea in your head, you need to plan you need to brainstorm ideas, so just jot down random ideas as they come into your head. And once you’ve got all these ideas down, then it’s a question of ordering them. Now an essay consists of a series of paragraphs, and each paragraph will deal with a particular a specific idea or topic. And the paragraphs need to be linked with transitions, so the whole thing flows from the beginning to the end.

You also need to consider using imagery to make your essay a little brighter and more interesting and fun for the reader.

The introduction is very important, because the introduction to any essay is what is really going to set the tone or of the essay in your readers mind. If you get off to a good start, he or she will be positively inclined towards you. And similarly the conclusion because that’s the last idea the last impression that your reader is left with. So all these things need to be factored in to your college essay.

Finally, of course, make sure you get some feedback from other people, perhaps your teacher or your counsel, or maybe even your friends, because you certainly can’t see everything or think of everything yourself. And last but not least, make sure that you proofread carefully, you will be expected to write this in accurate, correctly spelled, grammatically correct English.

N 10:22
We thank you.

Do you have any pieces of general advice? For students who are approachingus college essay writing?

J 10:33
Yes, I would say don’t underestimate how much time all of this is going to take.

And then that leads on to the sort of related question, how many colleges and universities are you going to apply to? And therefore how many essays Will you need to write, some students apply to, in my opinion, too many us colleges, and they find themselves stuck in this situation where they have to produce a very large number of essays. This is, as I’ve said, very time consuming. I’ve often heard the comment from our students that it was a bit like taking an extra IB subject in terms of the time and the input needed to produce college essays. So have a capital, think about all of this, and start early, you should really be starting to write your college essays during the summer, summer vacation between grade 11 and grade 12.

N 11:32
Right. Thank you.

And for parents, what would your advice be to parents effectively help them support their students when they’re approaching writing college entrance essays?

J 11:51
That’s a very good question. I think parents can be very supportive and very useful in this process, particularly if your son or daughter has decided to talk about some life changing moment. Now, it’s quite difficult sometimes for teenagers to remember with any great accuracy, what they did or thought when they were younger children, but you as a parent, of course, will remember that much more accurately and much better. And it’s useful to sit down and discuss these events with your son or daughter.

The other thing is that I would say this, that college admissions tutors would really like to hear a teenager’s voice coming through in the essay. So please, above all else, resist the temptation to either write or rewrite or heavily edit the essay because it then loses the sort of spontaneity and liveliness of a teenager writing it. It becomes a more formal piece of writing produced by an adult. And of course, finally, I think that just general help and support is always useful. and encouragement, encouraged them to start early with the essay writing process.

N 13:09
Wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. Hancock, thank you for giving up your time to speak to us today and we hope that we will hear from you again in the future.

J 13:21
My pleasure. I look forward to coming on the show again.