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Story Up! The Story2 Blog

Tell Your Story for College Advising Success

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 31, 2016 6:00:00 AM / by Monique Rinere, Ph.D. posted in High School and College

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By Monique Rinere, Ph.D.

The other day I was in a clothing store and started talking to the young saleswoman named Rebecca who was helping me with some purchases. It turned out that she was a college student studying international relations, so, of course, I asked her about her college advising experience. She said it was horrible. That's the usual response, so I probed a bit. She said that, yes, she had an adviser, and yes, she knew about all of the sources of information, but she didn't want to "tell her story" to one source of advice after another. She had told it once and felt that that was enough. She viewed college advising as a one-stop shopping experience. And she wanted that one adviser to tell her how to finish college fully prepared for a career in her chosen field. She was looking for a clear formula – just as she felt she had had in high school – to get her to the next step in her life. And she wanted to get all of her advising from one person. I gently suggested that she might want to get used to "telling her story" because we do it all our lives, and it can be both productive and fun. Every time we tell it there is something new to add and we can change not only the perception others have of us, but our self-perception a little bit each time. “Telling your story,” I said, “is an opportunity for creating your story, a moment of growth and change.”

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From Youth to Adulthood: 4 Things to Avoid in Common App Prompt #5

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 23, 2016 10:49:57 AM / by Danielle Phan posted in High School and College

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Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


By Danielle Phan, Marketing Operations Coordinator, Story2

I stood at the base of the bleachers in the school gym, alongside seven other seniors, in front of the entire freshman class. We were to introduce ourselves as their peer advisors, talk a little bit about our interests and activities, and mostly express to the freshmen how thrilled we were to be working with them that year. I imagined myself in their shoes, three years earlier when I was a rising freshman. I was horrified to be starting high school -- at a new school, in a new neighborhood -- and I had no idea what to expect. I remembered what the seniors looked like when they introduced themselves to me: poised, confident, and, most of all, kind. I wanted to be just like them. I stepped up, raised my hand, and said, “Hey! I’m Danielle!”

It’s true of all admissions and supplement essays—and especially this prompt—that you need to get past the obvious to write an essay that shows admission officers who you are.

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How to Ask for a College Recommendation Letter

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 18, 2016 5:00:00 AM / by Kaplan Test Prep posted in High School and College

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By Stephanie Jolly, Kaplan Test Prep

As you probably already know if you’re in the middle of the college application process, college admissions committees often ask for two or three letters of recommendation from teachers, instructors, guidance counselors, or employers.

Here are a few simple guidelines you can follow to ensure the strongest recommendations possible from the people who are the most familiar with you and your academic work.

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Problem Solving: How to Answer Common App Question #4

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 17, 2016 5:00:00 AM / by Danielle Phan posted in High School and College

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Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma--anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


By Danielle Phan, Marketing Operations Coordinator, Story2

“Your mom makes WHAT for dinner?” I looked around the table of the dining hall to a circle of blank stares, a circle of peers who simply could not understand. What I wanted to explain was that my mom makes rice every night for dinner, and that rice is so integral to Vietnamese cuisine that the word for “rice” is also the word for “meal.” My explanations were met with doubt. “It would be like saying my mom makes potatoes every night,” one incredulous peer said. Despite my best attempts, no one could understand and empathize with how much sitting at my kitchen table, sharing rice and vegetables family-style, meant to my cultural identity. In that moment, I was powerless to control the narrative about myself and my culture. I set out to find that power again, re-tell the history, and make others understand my own culture the way that I saw it. When it came time to choose a topic for my undergraduate thesis, the answer was easy.

The high schools and colleges that govern the Common Application added this question to give students a chance to talk about their intellectual work and ambitions, as well as their big ideas about the world and the future. This is a great question for a student who has a clear sense of personal and professional purpose, but it also tempts students to write from their resume, rather than their heart or even their soul.

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Taking Things On: 3 Tips to Answer Common Application Essay Prompt #3

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 16, 2016 5:00:00 AM / by Carol Barash, PhD posted in High School and College

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Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?


By Carol Barash, PhD, Founder and CEO, Story2

You do something new, and you see yourself and the world differently. If you’ve had one of these moments, you will know. I once interviewed an applicant for Princeton whose parents had kicked him out when he told them he was gay. He had lived with a friend for a while, and was applying to college from a homeless shelter.

“How did you find the courage?” I remember asking him. “Would you do it again?”

“I just couldn’t live a lie anymore,” he said, looking directly into my eyes.

The keywords in this Common Application question are “reflect,” “challenged,” and “act.” It’s almost a series of questions, inviting you to describe a time that you took on something established, what you did, and what you learned: there is the challenge itself, what caused you to act, and then—this is the “reflect” part—would you do it again?

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