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Story Up! The Story2 Blog

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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Send Storytelling and Story2 to SXSWedu

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 15, 2016 12:11:23 PM / by Michael Crawford posted in Community

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By Michael Crawford, Director of Coaching, Courses and Curriculum, Story2

I convinced my boss to let me go. The sessions listed online for SXSWedu spoke to me, and I beamed just thinking about walking in, sitting down, and soaking in the learning. Then… I went.

When I got home from SXSWedu the first time, I told every person I talked to that it was like my Disney World. It was only four days, but the ideas, the people, the events, the learning, the relationships. Sure, I walked, I sat, and I soaked.

But I also struck up conversations with strangers, asked questions to panelists, and started friendships I have to this day. One me went to SXSWedu. Another me left.

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