Monday, September 26, 2011

Charlene Liebau Talks College Essays

By Charlene Liebau|College Admissions Editors|Ed Enterprise|Sept. 26, 2011|12:32 a.m.

            This week we continue discussion of the college essay or personal statement.
The essay allows the admissions committee to learn about the student beyond grades and test scores.  That is, learn about the student’s experiences, what he or she thinks is important, lessons learned, opinions and interests.  The essay also provides an example of the student’s ability to write, to convey a thought.
            Before submitting the essay or personal statement the student should ask:  What is the main point – is there one?  The body of the essay should support the main point in an interesting, readable manner – not overly wordy or too detailed.  Examples and stories can – and should - be used to illustrate the main point and bring life to the essay.  A listing of one’s life events is a journal, not an essay.  In writing, avoid the dramatic – watch for the use of “ever, never, the most, the best, the greatest.”  Look for redundancies – don’t repeat yourself.  How many times is the word “that” found in the essay?  A personal statement is a personal statement – no need to write “I think” or “I feel.”  Take special note of word limitations and adhere to them.  For some essays submitted online the computer program may not let you continue typing once you reach the word limit! 
A final check of the essay should include the question: does this sound like me?  Is this the way I would present my point if I were talking to someone?
            It is true, writing a personal statement can be a daunting task but is manageable if you have a clear sense of what you want to say and a willingness to take the time necessary to write and rewrite. 
            We turn now to the front of the form and the nuts and bolts of filling out a college application.  Most application forms begin with relatively easy personal data questions – name, address, birth date, parent information, and citizenship.  A request for “optional” information is just that – you are not required to respond.  Responses to questions in this category are typically used by colleges for statistical reports.
            When asked about a possible area of academic study or major, “undecided” is appropriate if, in fact, you are undecided.
Questions related to providing educational data ask the applicant to list the current school and all secondary schools attended including summer school and summer programs.  If you have taken college or university classes while a high school student you will be asked to list the courses completed and grades earned.  The request for test information asks for SAT, ACT, and AP test history and plans for future testing.  Note that while colleges may ask for results of all tests taken, many will select only your highest scores while considering your application. 
 Plan ahead and prepare – the SAT/ACT taken in the spring of the junior year and perhaps again in early fall of the senior year is the recommended sequence.  Taking the SAT or ACT more than three times is not recommended.
            Questions asked in the Family Information section are included to determine one’s background.  Is the applicant first generation to attend college?  Or, did the applicant grow up with college-educated parents in a home most likely filled with books?
            The lines and spaces allotted to extracurricular activities are meant to reveal more than a listing of clubs, sports, and community service activities.  Next week’s column will address the role of activities in the college application process.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peter Brown To Sign Books At Children's Book World Oct. 10

By Dupe Aleru|Children's Book World & Ed Enterprise|Sept. 23, 2011

From the author of Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown is to host his story time and book signing on Sept. 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Children's Book World in Los Angeles.

Brown was selected as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010 by the New York Times from his book You Will Be My Friend

Today is the day the exuberant Lucy is going to make a new friend!  But she finds it's harder than she had thought--she accidentally ruins the giraffe's breakfast and is much too big for the frogs' pond.  Just when she's about to give up, an unexpected friend finds her, and loves her just the way she is .This heartwarming story offers a unique and humor-filled spin on the all-important themes of persistence and friendship.  

Students ages 4-7 will join Peter for a reading and drawing demonstration.

For more information, call 310-559-2665.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

St. Timothy Teachers Honored the Prestigious Artsonia Award

By Dupe Aleru|Ed Enterprise|Sept. 22, 2011|11:50 a.m.

St. Timothy School’s teachers were recently honored by Artsoniaan educational company dedicated to integrating technology into the school classroom while enabling students to view other student artwork in faraway countriesthe Artsonia Leadership Award for the 2010-2011 school year.

The prominent award commends St. Timothy and its community for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to Arts Education as well as its teachers who go “beyond the classroom walls to encourage family and community involvement in Arts Education,” said CEO Jim Myers of Artsonia.

This prestigious award is only given to ten schools per state across the United States. Furthermore, Artsonia showcases over twelve million pieces of artwork from thousands of schools. As for St. Timothy, its online art gallery ranks #5 in the state.

Parents and community members can view a total of 1,669 published pieces of St. Timothy’s student artwork online. The school has acquired an active fan club of over 340 members as well as 436 comments from fans.

For more information at St. Timothy School in West Los Angeles, visit

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Charlene Liebau Talks 'The College Essay'

By Charlene Liebau|College Admissions Advisor|September 20, 2011|1:36 p.m.

Given the rush to “get things done” and an increase in the number of students applying to college under one of the Early Action/Early Decision options, I begin this series of articles on the topic of personal statements – perhaps better known as the college essay.
Perhaps the most challenging part of filling out a college application comes at the end of the form: writing the essay! The personal statement/essay part of the application requires the most amount of time to complete and is cause for concern as high school seniors tackle this part of the process. 
Why is writing a personal statement so difficult?  Perhaps it is because students are not use to writing about themselves or have not given sufficient prior thought to their experiences, choices, and future plans.  Writing a self-reflective statement may be a very new experience.
Why do many (most) colleges require an essay and/or personal statement as part of the application process?  The purpose is twofold: to come to know the student as a person – more than what can be found in a report of high school courses taken, test results, and involvement in extracurricular activities.  The personal statement is an opportunity for the student to present him/herself, to write about something of interest, to tell what matters, what is important, and gives meaning to all the other parts of one’s application.  Second, the essay provides insight on how well the student writes and how carefully he or she follows directions.
The first decision in approaching the personal statement is to decide on a topic.  Are topics assigned or suggested in the application?  If given a choice, why are you choosing a particular topic?  What do you want the admissions committee to know about you?      Remember, the topic you choose is an opportunity to present yourself – your experiences, interests, and thoughts.  Once a topic is chosen, you need to focus.  Word limits dictate you must focus!  What is the main point going to be?  Write it down - it helps to focus on what you will write. 
The essay is first written as a rough draft and should include an introduction, the main points or body, and summary – the conclusion.  The purpose of the first paragraph, the introduction, is to state the focus of the essay.  Typically, the next three paragraphs expand on the first paragraph.  This is where an example or evidence is used to back up the main point of the essay.  Be creative, tell a story when possible.  Write as much as you want in the rough draft - you can edit later.  The concluding paragraph is a restatement of the main point and serves to tie together the examples or stories referred to in the body of the essay.
Editing the rough draft is the time to make the essay more concise: delete or reconstruct awkward sentences, make it lively by using the active voice, and pay attention to word limitations.  As you review the essay ask: does each paragraph flow smoothly from the previous one?  Does each sentence convey its idea clearly?  Does the essay include unnecessary sentences that repeat things already said?  Are there any unnecessary words?  Look for words and phrases you use repeatedly – can you find appropriate substitutes?  When the final draft is written review it again – did you make all the changes?  Check for grammar and spelling beyond the computer’s spell check function.
As you review the essay ask yourself: What message are you sending to the reader?  What personal qualities are you highlighting - creativity, curiosity, resilience, persistence, or others?
And finally, and most importantly, does the essay sound like you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beverly Vista's First Day of School Fun

PTA Presidents Noah Margo and Laurie Okum, parents, teachers and PTA members enjoyed a tasty breakfast hosted by the PTA, during the first day of school at Beverly Vista School.

Parents and students mingled among one another for the exciting first day. Students joined their parents as they searched their names and class assignments.

With pleased faces, the students and their families enjoyed the rest of their joyous day.

Happy first day of school BV!