Writing Successful College Applications

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Table of Contents

• Introduction

• Writing from Your Heart and Mind: Background on Preparing a College Essay That Only YOU Could Write

• Sample Before and After of “Two-Dimensional” vs. “Three-Dimensional” Essays

• Tips, Checklists, Dos and Don’ts to Writing Your College Essay (and Other Writing for Your Application)

• 50+ Sample Essays Divided Into Categories by Theme

• The Activity Paragraph—How to Write One, Samples, Dos and Don’ts

• The Academic Paragraph—How to Write One, Samples, Dos and Don’ts

• The “Why This School?” Paragraph—How to Write One, Samples, Dos and Don’ts

• The Brag Sheet—Advice on How to Write One, Samples, Dos and Don’ts

• Other Supplemental Writing Tips for Short-Answer Essays—How to Write Them, Samples, Dos and Don’ts

• How to Tweak and “Recycle” Writing for Different Questions Asked at Multiple Schools

• Interviews with Deans of Admission and Directors of College Counseling from Across America to Provide Insights, Tips, and Wisdom

• Concluding Remarks and Index

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Writing Successful College Applications

On Sale September 30th

Today’s college admission applications involve writing more than just one essay. The various required paragraphs and statements demand skill and finesse. Writing Successful College Applications offers vital tips and step-by-step expert advice to help students create outstanding essays to succeed in all aspects of their college applications. This new book offers proven strategies to help students craft a successful essay or personal statement, with tips and insights to guide them through the writing process. There are over 50 sample personal statements from successful students plus bonus information on how to write strong activity and academic paragraphs as well as the “Why This School” paragraph-essential pieces of college applications that should not be overlooked. Interviews with Deans of Admission offer valuable information on what colleges are really looking for in an admission essay.

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Press for Writing Successful College Applications

Parents Learn ABCs of College Admission

by L.B. Editor Feb. 5, 2015 A panelist with experience navigating college entry provided reassuring advice about an anxiety-ridden rite of passage for parents and their children at the PTA’s Coffee Break talk last week. Participants included representatives of the high school counseling department and community college, a private college counselor and author, and a private standardized test prep provider. Parents learned that Laguna Beach High School provides ample help navigating the process if they can take advantage of the annual College Round Up, which hosts more than 100 college representatives for an open-house in Dugger Gym. Additionally, nearly 90 college reps visit the school for more intimate meetings with interested students. Each student can also take advantage of an online tool, Naviance, to stay organized, take interest inventories, research colleges or enrichment programs, sign-up for meetings with visiting college reps, or standardized tests, etc. Push button for full... read more

Coffee Break: How to Get Into College

Kate Rogers/Coastline Pilot February 5, 2015 Getting into college can be one of the most anxiety-producing rites of passage for parents and their children. In response, PTA’s Coffee Break hosted a panel Wednesday to discuss college acceptance tips. Participants included two representatives of Laguna Beach High School’s counseling department, a local community college counseling official, a private college counselor and author, and a private provider of standardized-test preparation. Dawn Hunnicut, a college and career specialist, emphasized the value of campus visits that provide an opportunity to start a relationship with someone from one’s dream school. Read the full... read more

Writers on Writing Interview

Writers on Writing October 1, 2014 Orange County writer Cindy Muchnick, author of WRITING SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE APPLICATIONS, talks about ways in which she enjoys the publicity and marketing side of being an author, her experience collaborating with her teenage son on one of her nine books, and her advice to fellow writers to “just write it.” The interview begins at the 21 minute mark in the program.   Listen to the Interview – jump to minute... read more

4 Posnack Alumni Featured in College Essay How To

PosnackSchool.org September 30, 2014   College admission essays by four Posnack alumni, Sharon Ghelman of the Class of 2013 and Brooke Rice, Justin Etzine, and Shelby Curran of the Class of 2014, are featured in the recently released Writing Successful College Applications, by Cindy Muchnick. Kol Ha-kavod to our alumni!   Read the Full... read more

Crash Course in College Essay Writing – 12 Tips to Get You Started and Your Juices Flowing

Guest Author / Peterson’s Newswire September 29, 2014 The clock is ticking and you are a new high school senior (or parent of one!). The summer flew by without even a thought about what to write about for your college essays. Were you too busy with SAT prep? Driver’s ed? Hanging out with friends? Working? Procrastinating? Don’t worry, because help has arrived. Follow these dozen tips below and (hopefully) your juices will be flowing. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Writing Successful College Applications and start reading and getting inspired. But for now, here is your “Cliff’s Notes” version of what you can do to get started:   Read the Full... read more

Under Cover: Newporter Wrote the Book on College Apps

Edie Crabtree / Newport Beach Independent September 26, 2014 Finishing high school and preparing to make the leap into college can be a very stressful time. Although they still have one foot squarely in adolescence, we expect our young people to be able to start making important life decisions. No longer is the most pressing question whether or not there is time to make it to Starbucks and back during tutorial. Instead, teens must consider what career they would like to work towards, what major they should choose, and which university is best suited to fill their needs, all while considering cost, proximity to home, and whether or not a job will be a necessity.   Read the Full... read more

Meet Local Author and Education Consultant Cindy Muchnick

Ilene Schneider / KosherOC.com September 23, 2014 Orange County author unveils new college application writing book and conducts free college application writing seminar Sunday, October 5. Local author, educational consultant, and speaker Cynthia Muchnick’s ninth book, Writing Successful College Applications: It’s More than Just the Essay (Peterson’s Publishing) goes on sale September 30, just in time for high school juniors, rising seniors and their parents to get essential help in the college application process. The title will also be available as an e-book.   Read the Full... read more

Top Ten Tips for Successful Application Writing

Peterson’s Newswire September 15, 2014 Your college application writing is not just about writing one personal statement. There are often several shorter essays, supplemental questions, and short answers required by schools, too. This top ten list will quickly prepare you for all of the writing required on your college applications. Heed this advice and you will be able to start your process “in the know.”   Read the Full... read more

Cynthia Muchnick Pens 9th Title: Writing Successful College Applications

PRWeb September 08, 2014 After nearly two decades of a career that has included work as an assistant director of admission, private educational consultant and public speaker, author Cynthia Muchnick has taken her expertise and put it down in writing, making the college application process a little bit easier for today’s high school students.   Read the Full... read more

Like Mother, Like Son

Valerie Takahama / Orange Coast Magazine September, 2014 Newport Beach author Cynthia Muchnick has forged a career penning how-to books based on real-life experiences. Her first, “Will You Marry Me?,” was inspired by her husband’s marriage proposal. Now 16-year-old son Justin is following in her footsteps.   Read the Full... read more

Praise for Writing Successful College Applications

“In her newest volume, Muchnick covers everything a student needs to make their application stand out . . .  By sharing a list of dos and don’ts that cover everything, down to which Internet browser is the best when formatting your work, as well as including a section of common questions and answers, Muchnick ensures that virtually any topic you might need assistance with is covered.” 

Newport Beach Independent

“Do’s and Don’t of College Applications. The summer before your child’s senior year of high school, leave this book on your kid’s desk with a brightly colored sticky note on top suggesting that they just read the very short Chapter two, and then do not say another word. This chapter alone will not only be exceedingly useful, but it will also most likely draw them in to want to read the rest of the book! The “do’s and don’ts” of each chapter are terrific, straightforward and too the point. Muchnick provides years of college counseling expertise wrapped up in a very easy to read format. So, if you want to avoid conflict and drama with your high school student over the stressful college application process, leave the advising to the experts and buy this book so that you can just be there to support your student along the way.”

Keri U.


“College applications: A Family Affair. Having a child reach the age of preparing to apply for college, signals a marker in the family’s life cycle. This can be an exciting time but usually also provokes anxiety and strong emotions. Just when adolescents want to make their own decisions and look forward to more autonomy, parents want to guide, protect and coach their child to make wise decisions. To demystify this stressful process, I found Cynthia Muchnick’s new book, Writing Successful College Applications: It’s More Than Just the Essay a must read! Muchnick guides readers through the process of applying to college by providing specific, clear and knowledge-based suggestions for navigating the process successfully and writing a great college essay. She knows what you need to know.”



“Cindy’s books are extremely helpful, well written, cut-to-the-chase “how to” books. My son used her first “essay” book and it sparked some great thoughts that became his college essays! Seriously, once he read her book, the words just flowed onto the page! Her recent book is even more helpful. I highly recommend this book for your juniors/seniors who are thinking about colleges, or are in the throws of applications!” M. Gollis


“This book was a true lifesaver for my daughter (and her parents) as we are in the middle of the college application process. Muchnick’s book provides wonderful examples of what a college essay should contain and my daughter has referred back to the essays frequently while creating her own essays. Thanks for such a well written tool. This book is a must read.”



Invaluable intel. If I could only go back in time to writing my own college essays! This book goes beyond the ‘how-to’s by providing examples and thought-provoking exercises for students applying for college. Things have CHANGED since my generation and muchnick’s book fills in all the holes. WOW…I WANT A DO-OVER!”

Sugar Mama


“College App Counseling Clear and Specific. At last — a way in to the enormity of the college application process! This book is truly a helpful tool. It lays out the different parts of an application, and clearly describes (and offers good examples of) various approaches one might take to complete the different pieces. I particularly felt the Do’s and Don’ts were useful — the sections that offer bulleted points will be easy to utilize when working with my kids.”

Mother of Four


“Inspire your kids. Concise and organized in such a way that you can quickly jump to what you are looking for. Its great to read all the different kinds of successful essays from many different student voices – my eleventh grader after reading was immediately inspired, saying “I can do this!”

D. LaPuma


“Ace the college application. Excellent suggestions for completing dynamite college applications. Many of the essays are unique and most demonstrate a strong voice and superior writing skills. A careful reading of this book will help students successfully navigate the challenges of the daunting college application process.”

Victoria de Felice


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