Story Up! The College Essay Blog

Scholarship Essays: Yes, You Can!

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 22, 2015 12:52:10 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in scholarships, college tuition, paying for college, essay writing tips

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Written by Jocelyn Johnson, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator, Story2

College is expensive. Being able to pay for collegeall of it, not just the first yearis equally as important as getting into college. A recent study found that dropping out of college, even for financial reasons, can be worse than never going at all.

The good news is there are thousands of scholarship opportunities out there, with many different requirements and application processes. When you’re applying for a scholarship that has a required essay or response to a prompt, here’s what you need to do to write a winning scholarship essay.

You can act on these tips RIGHT NOW by using the Story2 toolkit. Use the discount code “SCHOLARSHIP” to get essay feedback for only $79.

1. Use the prompt to your advantage

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11 Scholarships for High School Students

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 16, 2015 3:54:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in scholarships, seniors, college tuition, paying for college

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Written by Jocelyn Johnson, Social Media Coordinator, Story2

I’m not a betting woman, but if I was, I would bet that the majority of colleges and universities’ (both private and public) tuition will increase or stay the same for the academic year of 2015-2016. With recent reports showing that the cost college in the U.S. is rising faster than the rate of inflation, I think I have a good chance at winning that bet. But, if you’re a college bound student who is trying not to cost yourself, or your parents, a fortune, the odds are not in your favor.

The good news is that more colleges are meeting family’s financial aid needs and more independent scholarship opportunities are arising--with a wide range of award amounts and application processes. While scholarships between $1,000 - $5,000 may seem meager compared to the staggering prices of tuition, they can be integral for purchasing textbooks or for financing a summer abroad.

Check out the following 11 scholarships* now accepting applications for high school students. And, be sure to use Story2 to write winning application essays that will get you paid!

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Open Letter

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 15, 2015 11:46:00 AM / by Carol Barash posted in storytelling, life skills, story2

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Written by Carol Barash, Founder and CEO of Story2


We’ve been announcing that Story To College is changing our name to Story2--and moving from to I wanted to share the story behind this change.

This summer during the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator, Powered by TechStars many people said things like, “What you are doing is really so much bigger than helping people get into college. You need a different name.” Story2 reflects our mission of unlocking human transformation through online storytelling, tools, and community. We’re continuing what we have been doing since 2011--teaching students from all backgrounds and around the world how to tell their authentic stories in college admissions and scholarship essays--by building a diverse online community of storytellers and storytelling resources not just for college admissions, but for all of life's high-stakes moments.  

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

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 12, 2014 10:50:00 AM / by Carol Barash posted in what admissions officers are looking for, webinars, tips and tricks, early admission

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

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 11, 2014 7:04:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in college admission essay, essay writing tips, first generation college students

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

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 9, 2014 6:48:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in how to, what admissions officers are looking for, application essay, essay writing tips

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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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10 Admissions Trends for 2015

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 2, 2014 6:21:00 PM / by Carol Barash posted in college admission, college process, college admissions strategy

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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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Thanksgiving Memories - Hide And Seek

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 28, 2014 3:00:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in storytelling

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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

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 28, 2014 2:00:00 PM / by Matt Gordon posted in storytelling

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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

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 28, 2014 1:38:00 PM / by Jocelyn Johnson posted in storytelling

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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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