Category Archives: College Essay

“Think Write”: A Summer Writing Workshop for High School Students (2015)

We are extremely excited to present a unique summer writing workshop for high school students in the Princeton, NJ area!

For more details and to sign up, please visit –

Below is a brief description of the program:

“Think Write” is a new 6-week writing workshop designed to prepare 9th through 12th graders for the unique challenges posed by writing at the high school-level. It is often a daunting prospect, even for advanced students. Part of what makes high school writing such a frustrating endeavor is ‘information overload’. High schoolers are exposed to a variety of new writing genres and concepts while simultaneously held to unrealistic grading standards that require students to demonstrate a mastery of writing that they have rarely been taught. Worse still, as students wrestle with these challenges, they do so at a time when skill in writing influences performance on A.P.s, SATs and other standardized tests and can strengthen or weaken a college application.

The “Think Write” program does not simply mimic a high school classroom and review what students encounter there. Instead, an extremely limited class size enables “Think Write” to deploy activities that encourage students to play with language, shape it and share their insights with peers. The program is a blend of Eton-style rigor with hands-on activities and collaborative projects that are both effective and creative. “Think Write” is designed to help students discover and utilize their strengths as writers, grapple with and conquer their weaknesses and, ultimately, forge a new relationship to writing that will facilitate future academic successes.

However, there is no strong writing without strong thinking.

More broadly, “Think Write” does not just offer students the tools to articulate their ideas and opinions; it is also engineered to help students hone their analytical reasoning skills (see “Program Structure” below for more details).Thus, students are able to not simply express ideas but to form them with greater complexity. To repeat a truism, writing makes thought visible; it also encourages writers to sharpen not just their pencils but their wit.

For more details and to sign up, please visit –

The College Application Essay: Part III

essay_writing_100-Last week we discussed some tips for getting started on your college application essay, after debunking several myths about the application process itself. By now, hopefully you have brainstormed enough and are feeling ready to pick up a pencil and begin writing. Grab your ‘First Impressions’ sheet we began last week and let’s get started!

[Continue reading for writing tips!]

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The College Application Essay: Part II – Getting Started

whats_your_storyLast week I debunked several floating myths concerning the college application process. Now let’s consider some more specific prompts to get the juices flowing with regard to writing that (overhyped) application essay.

[Keep reading for college essay writing tips!]

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The College Application Essay: Part I – Myth or Fact?

common-appWhether you are a high school senior in the agonizing throes of the college application process, or a sophomore simply curious about what has been called “the most stressful fall of your entire life” (disclaimer: it’s not!), it’s time to debunk some myths. Once you have the facts, you will certainly be one step ahead of many out there!

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Princeton Tutoring Essay Competition

Princeton Tutoring is sponsoring our first annual essay competition! (For additional competition details and rules, please visit

The underlying purpose of this year’s topics is to foster student self-awareness. Additionally, thinking about these types of questions will prepare students for the types of prompts they might encounter on their college applications.

  • High School Topic – Do you believe there are inherent conflicts between achieving both success and happiness?
  • Middle School Topic – Interview your family members and discover something about your family history that you might not have known before. Write about the significance of what you learned and what it means to you.

[Continue reading for additional thoughts on these topics] Continue reading

The College Essay: Be Yourself

by David Kurz

Looking back on my 17-year old life, I remember feeling a mix of uncertainty and pressure when it came time to write the college essay. In my experience, the personal statement was uniquely difficult because – unlike SATs, GPA, AP scores, and academic achievements – it was subjective, biased, and supremely personal. My college essay sometimes seemed like a blank sheet staring me in the face, daring me to be creative, fluid, and self-revealing in the midst of a high-stakes application. The good news is that, eventually, I was able to turn this daunting undertaking into a fun exercise that let me express my personality better than any other piece of my application.

My Story

I remember deciding that I wanted my essay to capture something about me that spoke to how I was singular. Something that only Dave Kurz could write. I recall leaning back in my chair, looking around, and thinking to myself: “What makes me different?” What I settled on certainly wasn’t perfect, but it did fit the criterion I had laid out for myself; my essay literally could not have been written by anybody else because of the distinctive way only I could unite various aspects of my life story. In my case, this meant writing about everything from Hungarian history to Spanish classes to soccer to kayaking to jazz trumpet to faith, and how they had all come together to make me who I was. I also included some minor details about my life that weren’t important in their own right – for instance, my high school habit of grabbing frozen waffles while running out the door – but added a personal touch to the writing. The key was not really what I wrote about, but how my writing captured my personality.

[Continue reading for Dave’s advice, and additional tips and resources]

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