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hey guys we're here with Mara Allen author of right now essential tips for standout college essays and she's going to talk to us all about how to take our essays to the next level and make sure that we're providing enough depth and substance to our essays so the admissions officer needs to see or read something in you that's changed some insight that you've had based on a circumstance or meeting with an individual sure so you're not just reporting a memorable experience you have to talk about how that's shaped the person that you are today how it's changed you how you think differently now so do you have any examples of maybe how a student started out and how maybe was more service-level and how she took things or he took things to the next level sure so one student i worked with in the bay area she's a violin player every morning she'd wake up at 5:30 in the morning she'd take a run three to five miles as a way to wake up get energized and then she'd practice violin and go to school well so I mean for me I mean I guess that that I would think that that shows dedication and the fact that you're you know really prioritizing this so I mean that's impressive and I think a lot of students would write about you know maybe a sport or passion but I mean that doesn't really seem like enough to me I mean is that enough how did this student you know take things to the next level there right so initially she thought just the violin playing and the run showed showed like you said commitment and determination but that isn't enough there needs to be more of a story those are just facts so we I encouraged her to dig deeper so on her run she would see a pattern and different people of course have different patterns some people would get up in the morning walk their dog and she would run by this one house and she would hear opera music very early in the morning 6:00 a.m. and then she thought to herself again now moving to level two not just the facts but she thought those are two worlds my world in this person's world that are similar because we both love music but they never intersect they never collide so one day she went to his neighbor's door with her violin and said I hear you play music every day I know you love music would you like me to practice for you and this is where started to unfold the older gentleman said I love music I used to play the violin I had to sell my violin to move to the United States to support my family I'm not able to play anymore she began practicing and they've created a connection or a bond muffle so now it sounds like she she's moving past just a gift that she has a skill that she's acquired now it feels kind of more like a story like I can visualize her you know early in the morning running down the street seeing different lights of houses on and people all sort of doing their routine in a very charming story of how she came over and you know met this man um now how did she then you know relate this back to who she is now and then you know make it useful for her college essay right so she went from the facts to a great story but the story's not as great as it could be because there's no reveal in it there's no you know aha moment of her changing her thinking but gradually as she continued to play music in front of this gentleman she realized that music is really a passion of hers before she thought of playing music as an obligation she would go to competitions she would win competitions she would practice reluctantly and she was very good but it just never was really in her heart by playing to this audience of one she began to realize that music is a connector it bonds can create bonds between young and old between different cultures between literally neighbors so that idea that music took on a different context in her mind is the change that's the moment where she realized that music has a deeper meaning in her own life yeah we're even that you know when she was going on these runs she saw little snippets of lives that were all occurring simultaneously but never really intersected and music she realized to her could be that intersection where you know some man she probably would have never talked to she could finally you know talk to a Mickey connection with through for truth of playing musics right and to add another layer to the story music was of interest to her long-term in school and potentially as a career but really the this moment where her mind shifted and she had a self-discovery changed her view and she became more passionate about pursuing that long-term and she was able to communicate that in her essay as well I see so then she's also tying in potentially what she the kind of student she might look like on a college campus you know how she might be involved in music and so an admissions officer could see this girl's clearly talented she's dedicated but she's also insightful she knows why she wants to do what she does right and she could potentially be involved in this way at her school so I think that that I would imagine is probably important for admissions officers to be able to see and think about as well right and that's the added benefit she discovered in these months of playing that music is really that important to her and she would like to continue to study music and then potentially make it part of her career so one of the important things to remember is she didn't explicitly say my view of music changed she used the story to reveal that part of herself if you have to explicitly say it you're creating a distance between you and your reader sure I mean imagine they wouldn't want to read you know this changed me in this way that way I mean that's fairly obvious yeah right right so using using start with the facts go to level 2 and see where the story might take you but then go to level 3 and ask yourself questions what does this mean to me how is this different how did this experience change me or didn't change me how do I think act or feel differently because of it and by asking yourself those questions you'll get an essay that goes deeper and reveals more about you and that's exactly what the admissions team wants wonderful thanks so much Maura