Tutor profile: Lina K.
What can I do to improve my essays?
One of the most important aspects of any essay is organization. You should always start with an outline, regardless of how detailed it is. In this outline, you'll include a thesis, topics for each subsequent paragraph, and how you'll bring together all the elements of your essay at the end. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that makes a statement that you back up throughout the rest of the paragraph. See what the first sentence of this paragraph was? It was a mini-thesis setting up what I would argue in the rest of this paragraph: that organization is key in any essay. A trick I like to use is reading through my essay -- but only reading the topic sentences of each paragraph. If your argument is present in and makes sense through those topic sentences, that's great! This organization will help guide your reader through your essay clearly and concisely, without making them go back and forth trying to figure out what you're saying. The detail of your outline is up to you, though I personally recommend including each main point (topic sentences and supporting points) in you outline. That way, when you go to write your essay, it'll basically write itself!
Subject: College Admissions
What should I write my Common App essay about?
The key thing to convey in Common App essays is a cohesive idea or story that says a lot about you. It's important to have a narrative that focuses on the strengths or qualities you want to convey about yourself, regardless of what those qualities are. The essay should draw the reader in to start (this can often be through an anecdote or question, but there's no one way to do it) and then tell a story about you, the applicant. Make sure that whatever you write about has a bigger picture element -- for example, instead of writing about how your championship soccer game was an intense nail-biter until you finally were victorious, write about what that game meant for you as a person and how that meaning translates into your life as you plan for college.
Subject: Ethnic Studies
What is race?
Race is a construct that divides people into groups based on perceived biological or psychological traits. The idea of race was formed primarily by White men who sought to differentiate themselves from people of color, and was later perpetuated through pseudosciences (e.g., the argument that the shape and size of the cranium could convey intelligence was used against Black people to show them as lesser). Categories of race are often too broad for any real use; for example, the category of "Asian" is extremely broad and can include anyone from Indonesians to Russians to Japanese people and therefore provides no real meaning. The term "ethnicity" is often used as a better alternative, wherein people can describe their specific ethnic background. For example, instead of being grouped simply in the "Asian" category, an Indonesian person could give their ethnicity as Indonesian and include any other ethnicities with which they identify without being limited to an overly broad category.
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