Can you explain the difference between continuous and stage theories? They seem so similar.
Stage theories, such as Piaget's theory of cognitive development, are characterized by sudden, big jumps in development. Continuous theories show development through slow, continuous, incremental changes. Think of it as stage theories telling you what happened, but continuous theories explain how/why changes occur.
My counselor says to use my application essay to emphasize my accomplishments in high school, but how do I do that without sounding pretentious?
The key is to not write about your accomplishments in your essay. Every college application will already have you list out awards, honors, and extracurriculars you participate in, so reiterating them in an essay won't give the admissions counselors any new information. Instead of doing that, use your essay to push why you as a person are a good fit at that school and why you would improve it/how you would succeed there. Don't be afraid to be personal.
My professor tells me that I need to create a thesis outlining the subjects in my paper, but to make it different from a 5 paragraph essay structure. How is that possible?
The best way to break out of the 5 paragraph essay structure is to let your writing flow from paragraph to paragraph, connecting ideas in such a way that they build on each other in each paragraph rather than having each paragraph be completely separate from the previous/next. For example, in your thesis, describe what you want to argue and a couple of specific ways you plan to support your argument, but don't use those as headings/topics for each paragraph. Branch out and explore the topics through your writing, don't make it a list.