The Ultimate Guide to Writing Admission Papers

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Admission Papers

Writing admission papers is a crucial part of the college application process. These papers not only provide an opportunity for you to present yourself to the admissions committee but also play a significant role in determining your admission to the desired institution. In this guide, we will explore the importance of admission papers, the key elements of a successful paper, the art of storytelling, how to structure your paper effectively, and the importance of polishing your work.

Understanding the Importance of Admission Papers

The process of applying to colleges requires careful consideration and preparation. One of the most critical components of this process is the admission paper. Through this document, you can convey your personality, potential, and aspirations to the admissions committee, allowing them to understand you beyond your academic achievements.

When it comes to college applications, the competition is fierce. Thousands of students with impressive grades and test scores are vying for a limited number of spots. In such a competitive landscape, admission papers play a crucial role in setting you apart from the rest. They provide you with an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and experiences, giving the admissions committee a deeper understanding of who you are as an individual.

The Role of Admission Papers in College Applications

Admission papers provide the admissions committee with valuable insights into your character, experiences, and passion. They help the committee assess your suitability for their institution and your potential to contribute positively to the campus community. It is through your admission paper that you can leave a lasting impression and stand out among the other applicants.

Imagine being a member of the admissions committee, reading through countless applications. As you flip through the pages, you come across an admission paper that captivates your attention. It is well-written, engaging, and offers a glimpse into the applicant’s unique perspective. This paper not only showcases the applicant’s accomplishments but also reveals their determination, resilience, and ability to overcome challenges. Such a paper leaves a lasting impression on the committee, making it more likely for the applicant to be remembered and considered favorably.

How Admission Papers Reflect Your Personality and Potential

Your admission paper serves as a reflection of your personality and potential. It allows you to showcase your unique qualities, such as leadership skills, creativity, and resilience, which may not be evident from transcripts and test scores alone. By sharing personal anecdotes and expressing your genuine motivations, you can demonstrate your authenticity and convince the admissions committee of your suitability for their institution.

Consider an applicant who has excelled academically throughout high school but lacks extracurricular involvement. Their admission paper becomes a platform to explain their passion for community service and how it has shaped their character. Through vivid storytelling, they can convey the impact of volunteering at a local shelter, the lessons learned from organizing fundraisers, and the joy of making a difference in the lives of others. This admission paper not only showcases the applicant’s potential for leadership and empathy but also gives the admissions committee a glimpse into the kind of positive impact they can bring to the college community.

Admission papers are not just about listing achievements and accolades; they are an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection. They allow you to delve into your motivations, goals, and aspirations, providing the admissions committee with a holistic view of your character and potential. By crafting a compelling admission paper, you can leave a lasting impression and increase your chances of being accepted into your dream college.

Key Elements of a Successful Admission Paper

Creating a successful admission paper entails carefully crafting each section to effectively convey your message. Here are some key elements that can elevate your paper and increase its impact:

Crafting a Compelling Introduction

The introduction of your admission paper sets the tone for the rest of the document. It should grab the reader’s attention and introduce your main theme or narrative. Consider starting with a captivating anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful statement that resonates with your experiences and aspirations.

For example, imagine beginning your admission paper with a vivid anecdote about a transformative experience you had while volunteering in a remote village. This story could illustrate your passion for community service and your commitment to making a difference in the world. By starting with such a compelling introduction, you immediately engage the reader and make them eager to learn more about your journey and motivations.

Highlighting Your Strengths and Achievements

One of the main objectives of the admission paper is to showcase your strengths and achievements. Take this opportunity to describe your accomplishments and how they have shaped your character and goals. Remember to provide specific examples and evidence to support your claims, allowing the admissions committee to understand the depth of your achievements.

For instance, if you are applying to a business school, you could highlight your leadership skills by discussing a time when you successfully led a team to achieve a challenging goal. Describe the strategies you implemented, the obstacles you overcame, and the positive outcomes that resulted from your efforts. By providing concrete examples, you demonstrate your ability to apply your skills and make a meaningful impact.

Addressing Weaknesses or Challenges

While it’s essential to highlight your strengths, it is equally crucial to address any weaknesses or challenges you have encountered. This shows self-awareness, resilience, and a willingness to grow. Discuss how you have learned from these experiences and how they have contributed to your personal and academic growth.

For example, if you struggled with time management during your first year of college, you could explain how you developed effective strategies to overcome this challenge. Discuss the steps you took to improve your organizational skills, such as creating a detailed schedule or seeking guidance from a mentor. By acknowledging and addressing your weaknesses, you demonstrate your ability to learn from your mistakes and continuously strive for self-improvement.

Furthermore, reflecting on your weaknesses and challenges can also provide insights into your character and resilience. Admissions committees appreciate applicants who can demonstrate their ability to overcome obstacles and grow from adversity.

The Art of Storytelling in Admission Papers

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can bring your admission paper to life and make it memorable to the reader. By incorporating carefully chosen anecdotes, you can provide a vivid illustration of your experiences and the values you hold dear. Storytelling can help you engage the admissions committee and create a lasting impression.

Using Anecdotes to Illustrate Points

Anecdotes are powerful storytelling devices that can add depth and emotional resonance to your admission paper. Select anecdotes that highlight your character, challenges you have faced, or meaningful experiences that have shaped your aspirations. Ensure that these anecdotes are relevant and support the overall theme of your paper.

Maintaining Authenticity and Originality

When crafting your admission paper, it is essential to maintain authenticity and originality. Avoid using clichés or generic statements that could make your paper blend in with others. Instead, be true to yourself and express your unique voice throughout the document. Show the admissions committee why you are different and deserving of their attention.

Structuring Your Admission Paper

How you structure your admission paper is crucial to its readability and impact. Here are some tips to help you create a well-organized and engaging structure:

Organizing Your Thoughts and Ideas

Prior to writing your admission paper, spend time organizing your thoughts and ideas. Create an outline that outlines the main points you want to cover, ensuring a logical flow between sections. This will help you maintain clarity and coherence throughout your document.

Ensuring Logical Flow and Coherence

As you write your admission paper, ensure that each paragraph flows smoothly into the next. Use transitional words and phrases to create coherence and guide the reader through your ideas. Avoid jumping abruptly between topics, as this can disrupt the flow of your paper and make it harder for the admissions committee to follow your thoughts.

Polishing Your Admission Paper

After completing the initial draft of your admission paper, it is crucial to dedicate time to polishing and refining your work. Pay attention to the following aspects to ensure your paper is professional and error-free:

Importance of Proofreading and Editing

Proofreading and editing are essential steps in the writing process. Thoroughly review your admission paper for grammatical errors, typos, and awkward phrasing. Ensure that your ideas are presented clearly and concisely. Additionally, consider seeking help from trusted individuals, such as teachers or mentors, who can provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Seeking Feedback and Making Revisions

After proofreading your paper, seek feedback from others. Different perspectives can help you identify areas that may need further improvement. Consider their suggestions and make revisions accordingly. Remember, multiple rounds of revision can significantly enhance the quality and impact of your admission paper.

Writing admission papers can be a challenging task, but with careful planning and execution, you can create a compelling document that showcases your unique qualities and aspirations. By understanding the importance of admission papers, incorporating storytelling techniques , structuring your paper effectively, and polishing it through proofreading and revision, you can increase your chances of standing out in the college application process. Use this ultimate guide to create a powerful admission paper that leaves a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

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A Complete Guide to the College Application Process

Find answers to common questions prospective college students have about deadlines, essays and more.

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Students should generally begin working on applications the summer between their junior and senior year of high school, experts say.

The college application process can seem intimidating, especially if students don't have parents or siblings who have already been through it and can offer advice.

Since there are several steps, such as writing an essay and obtaining letters of recommendation , experts say a good way for students to get started is to create a to-do list during their junior year of high school.

"Once you can see it visually, the number of tasks and a schedule to do them, it simplifies a lot of things," says Christine Chu, a premier college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a New York-based education consulting company. "It will take away a lot of the anxiety."

Though there is often prep work, students generally begin working on college application tasks the summer between their junior and senior years of high school, experts say.

Here's what prospective undergraduates need to know about completing a college application.

What Are the Important College Application Deadlines?

High school seniors have multiple deadlines to choose from when applying to colleges.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Applying to College

Applying to college.

  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Fill Out the Common App
  • Write a Standout College Essay
  • Ask for Recommendation Letters
  • Learn the Ins and Outs of Financial Aid
  • Decipher College Tuition Costs
  • Find Scholarships to Pay for College

Early Decision

First are early decision deadlines, usually in November. Students who apply via early decision, or ED, hear back from a college sooner than their peers who turn in applications later. ED admissions decisions often come out by December.

However, students should be aware that ED acceptances are binding, meaning an applicant must enroll if offered admission.

Some schools also have a second early decision deadline, ED II, which is also binding. The difference is in the timelines. ED II deadlines are usually in January, and admissions decisions often come out in February.

Early Action

Early action is another type of application deadline that tends to be in November or December, though some schools set deadlines as early as Oct. 15. Similar to early decision, students who apply via early action hear back from schools sooner. The difference is EA acceptances aren't binding.

Restrictive early action , which is uncommon, allows students to apply early but only to a single school (though there are exceptions). It's also nonbinding.

Regular Decision

Students can also choose to apply by a school's regular decision deadline, which is typically Jan. 1. Students who apply regular decision generally hear back from schools in mid-to-late March or early April. This is the most common way students apply to schools.

One other admissions policy to be aware of is rolling admissions . Schools with rolling admissions evaluate applications as they receive them and release admissions decisions on an ongoing basis. These schools may have a priority filing date, but they generally don't have a hard cutoff date for applications. The institutions continue accepting them until all spots in the incoming class are filled.

Regardless of the type of decision students pursue, it's important to start the application process early, says Denard Jones, lead college counselor at Empowerly, a college admissions consulting company. Jones previously worked in college admissions at Elon University in North Carolina and Saint Joseph's University in Pennsylvania.

“If you chunk it up and break down these tasks and can get ahead and start early, you’re not stifling your creativity because you’re trying to rush through to get everything done by October or November deadlines," he says. “Time management is something you’re going to have to deal with the rest of your life, regardless of what you go into.”

In deciding when to apply, as well as how many colleges to apply to, students should consider financial aid implications . Experts say if money is a concern, as it is for most families of college-bound students, applicants should choose nonbinding deadlines – EA and regular decision. This will enable families to compare financial aid offers from multiple schools.

Experts also suggest students research applicable scholarships, like those related to their hobbies , to help offset costs.

For regular decision deadlines, students typically have until May 1 to decide which school they will attend and pay an enrollment deposit.

Which College Application Platform Should I Use?

Students have several options when it comes to college application platforms.

The Common Application

One popular choice is The Common Application , which is accepted by more than 1,000 colleges, including some outside the U.S. Students fill out the Common App once and can then submit it to multiple colleges.

However, in addition to the main application, Common App schools often have a supplemental section, Chu says. The supplement sometimes includes additional essay questions, so students may need to budget time for more writing.

Some schools do not accept the Common App, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Students have to fill out separate applications for these schools, generally through the school's website.

Coalition Application and Common Black College Application

Other application options include the Coalition Application, a newer platform accepted by 130 schools, and the Common Black College Application , accepted by most historically Black colleges and universities.

Additionally, some colleges have school-specific or university system-specific applications. For example, the University of California system has its own application – the only platform used by UC schools – and students can apply to multiple campuses with one application.

Students can visit a college's website to find out which application platforms are accepted. Also, the Common App , Coalition Application and CBCA websites list their partner schools.

What Do I Need to Know About the College Application Essay?

As part of the application process, most colleges require students to submit at least one writing sample: the college essay . This is sometimes referred to as a personal statement.

There's usually a word limit of around several hundred words for a personal statement. The main essay on the Common App should be around 650 words. The Coalition Application website says its essays should be between 500 and 650 words. Institution-specific supplemental essays typically have a word count of around 250 words.

Regardless of which application platform they use, students have multiple essay prompts from which to choose.

"The application essay prompts are broad and open-ended, and I think that's sometimes what challenges students the most," says Niki Barron, associate dean of admission at Hamilton College in New York. "But they're open-ended for a reason, and that's because we do really want to see what students choose to write about, what students feel is important."

Experts say students should try to tell a story about themselves in the essay, which doesn't necessarily mean writing about a big, impressive accomplishment.

Barron says the most memorable essays for her focus on more ordinary topics. "But they're done in such a self-reflective way that it gives me so much insight into who a student is as a person and gives me such a sense of the student's voice," she adds.

What Are the Other Key Components of a College Application?

Here are other parts of the college application that prospective students should be ready for.

Personal Information

In the first portion of a college application, students have to provide basic information about themselves, their school and their family.

High School Transcript

Colleges also ask for an official high school transcript, which is a record of the courses students have taken and the grades they have earned.

Admissions offices typically ask that a transcript be sent directly from the high school rather than from the student, says Geoff Heckman, school counselor and department chair at Platte County High School in Missouri. Students usually submit a transcript request to their high school's counseling office, but some schools use an online service, such as Parchment or SENDedu, that allows students to request the transcript be sent through a secure online provider, Heckman says.

Students can also send their transcript via a registrar if their school has one rather than through the counseling office.

Standardized Test Scores

Many schools require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, which are usually sent by the testing companies. The number of schools requiring standardized test scores has dropped dramatically as the coronavirus pandemic upended these exams.

Prospective students should know, however, that testing policies vary even when such exams are not required. Key terms to pay attention to include test-blind and test-optional . Test-blind means that scores will not be considered if submitted. By contrast, test-optional colleges do not require ACT or SAT scores but will consider them if submitted as part of an application.

Chu notes that "admissions officers still want to see test scores if possible" and that high marks will only help. Strong scores can lead to scholarships, in some cases, experts say. A good ACT or SAT score varies by college, and Chu encourages students to look at a college's first-year student profile to determine admission goals.

SAT-takers are allowed four free score reports each time they register for the exam. Students can select which schools they'd like their scores sent to before or up to nine days after the test, according to the College Board, which administers the standardized test. The fee for each additional score report is $12.

Similarly, students who sit for the ACT can send their score to up to four colleges at no cost, according to the ACT website . Additional score reports are $18 each. However, some students may qualify for a fee waiver , which allows test-takers to send additional score reports for free to colleges and scholarship agencies at any time during the college search process, according to the ACT website.

Letters of Recommendation

Colleges often ask students to submit two to three letters of recommendation .

Students should seek out recommenders – often they have to be teachers or counselors – who know them well and can comment not just on their academic abilities but also their personal qualities and achievements, Chu says.

It's a good idea for students to provide recommenders with a copy of their resume to help them cover all these bases, Heckman says.

Students should request letters of recommendation well before the application deadline. Chu advises at least two months in advance.

"The more time students can give the authors of those recommendations, I think the more thorough and helpful those recommendations are going to be for us," Barron says.

Information on Extracurricular Activities

College applications give students the chance to provide information on the extracurricular activities they participated in while in high school. In this section, students should detail all of the ways they spend their time outside of class, Barron says. This includes structured activities like sports or clubs, as well as family obligations such as caring for siblings or part-time employment, she says.

Some admissions officers spend significant time evaluating this section, Jones says, but he adds this is often the most overlooked part of the application. Many students rush through it and don't thoroughly explain the extent to which they were involved in an activity. Be sure to explain any leadership roles or accomplishments, he says.

"The extracurriculars are the things that they spend their entire high school career doing that lead up to these wonderful moments and accolades over time," he says. "So take the time and be detailed."

Do I Need to Submit a Resume?

On some college applications, it may be optional for students to upload a resume .

But much of the information generally contained in a resume – such as awards, work experience and extracurricular activities – is asked for in other parts of a college application, often in the activities section.

How Much Do College Application Fees Cost?

There's no set price for college application fees, which experts say typically range from $50 to $90 per application, though costs can stretch upward of $100 in some instances. Prospective students should check college websites to determine these individual fees.

How Can I Get a College Application Fee Waiver?

There are several ways students from low-income families can submit college applications for free .

Students who received SAT or ACT test fee waivers are eligible for college application fee waivers from the testing companies. The College Board sends such waivers automatically to students. Not all schools accept these waivers, but many do.

Similarly, the ACT has a fee waiver request form students and school counselors can fill out and send to colleges. The National Association for College Admission Counseling also offers a fee waiver request form .

In addition, eligible students can request a fee waiver within the body of some college applications, including the Common App.

There are other times schools waive application fees , and not just for low-income students. Students can sometimes get an application fee waived by participating in instant decision day events at their high school or on a college's campus. Applicants should also keep an eye out for free application periods in some states, when some colleges waive fees to apply.

Using a College Visit to Decide Where to Apply

A common piece of advice offered by admissions consultants and college officials alike is to tour a campus. Visiting a college can help prospective students get a sense of the culture and community and understand how they may or may not fit in. While it's not part of the formal application process, exploring a college can help students determine which schools to apply to.

Such visits, Chu says, offer a "glimpse into a day in the life" of students living and learning on those campuses. But in the absence of the opportunity to visit – say, due to cost restrictions or other travel limitations – students should consider virtual tours , which emerged as a popular option for applicants after the coronavirus pandemic began.

While virtual tours may offer fewer opportunities to make personal connections, students should still attempt to forge them.

"Virtual visits can be the next best thing" to an in-person tour, Barron notes. She also encourages applicants to "check college websites for offerings and opportunities to connect virtually with current students, admission staff, professors, coaches and others."

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College Application Process

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  • Avoid These College Application Mistakes
  • Tips for Choosing a Major

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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Paper Types / How to Write a College Admissions Essay

How to Write a College Admissions Essay

Nothing has the power to intimidate even the most diligent student quite like the college admissions essay. How to choose the right topic and steer clear of clichés while showing admissions committees that you’re a great fit?

Never fear! We’ve got a list of tips to help you make a great impression with a stellar essay.

Guide Overview

  • Read the prompt a few times before starting
  • Be yourself
  • Use active verbs
  • Organize your essay
  • Mix up your sentence structures
  • Paint a picture
  • Proofread, then ask someone else to

1. Read the prompt a few times before starting

While most admissions essays fall in the “personal statement” category, they usually involve some specific prompt or question. Now, imagine yourself in the admissions officers’ shoes: what are they trying to learn from you? Diving right into the essay is tempting, but it’s better to take the time at the beginning.

2. Be yourself

It’s a natural instinct is to think that an admissions committee wants to see you at your most formal. While you definitely must use complete sentences and avoid slang or silliness, you can also let your personality shine through! It is a “personal” statement after all. Showing your genuine self goes a long way and will make you more memorable.

3. Use active verbs

Chances are, some sort of personal narrative will be in your essay. Action verbs are your best friend: use them to tell a story that engages the reader. Focus on actions that show how you learned, changed, or grew. Also, expand your vocabulary so that you don’t repeat the same two or three verbs over and over.

4. Organize your essay

All those high school English essays are about to pay off, even if this one doesn’t require you to quote books or cite MLA or APA citations . Once you know your overall ideas, sketch out an outline to make the essay flow logically from introduction to main body to conclusion. It also helps to map out what you want to address in each section or where you want to use each example for maximum effect.

5. Mix up your sentence structures

An admissions essay shouldn’t just answer the prompt—it should demonstrate why you’re ready to be an excellent college student. One of the easiest ways to make your writing more sophisticated is to alternate between different sentence structures. Connect two related ideas into a compound sentence or start with the relative clause instead of the main one. The key is to avoid a long string of sentences that are all structured identically.

6. Paint a picture

When telling your story, select vivid words and details to give the anecdote some texture. If other people appear in the narrative, call them by name so that readers can follow along and feel a little more invested in and connected to your story. Great books and movies draw us into their world – the same applies to these essays!

7. Proofread, then ask someone else to

Before submitting, always proofread for spelling, grammar, and mechanics! You can check it yourself, use an online tool to run a grammar check , or both. It also may help to have a trusted person take a second look at your essay—sometimes they’ll catch something you didn’t see.

In general, admissions essays should be concise, clear, grammatically correct, and genuine. Follow these tips, and you can’t go wrong!

Looking for more great resources? Read our other articles on  how to do an annotated bibliography in MLA , what is an  MLA works cited page,  or our grammar guides on various parts of speech. Best of all, they are all free to read!

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Steps For Writing an Admission Essay

1. Carefully read through the website of the university or college to which you are applying. Be sure you fully understand the mission and the direction of development and values the university or college proclaims. Furthermore, each educational institution may also have some specific requirements to narrow down and simplify your essay.

2. Make a short list of points you wish to emphasize in your admission essay. Include answers to questions such as: “Why do I want to study in this particular institution?”; “What makes me suitable for the program I chose?”; “What past experiences of mine will help me better adjust to the new environment when I enroll in the university/college to which I am applying?”

3. Plan your essay structure before you begin writing it. Start with general information about yourself, mentioning only the most relevant and preferably recent experiences that relate to your major. Then write two or three paragraphs about your motivation and rationale for studying at this particular institution. End by mentioning the extracurricular activities and hobbies you are interested in, and how these activities correlate to the institution you are applying for.

4. Conclude your admission essay with a sentence addressing the committee or board of your college directly. In a formal manner, let the person reading your admission essay know how much enrolling in this institution means to you and that you will be looking forward to the decision of the board.

5. Lay your writing aside for some time and then do thorough proofreading. Consider revising those parts that are too general or do not have a clear meaning. Make sure every sentence is not just a general statement about how much you want to become a student of this particular institution, but also presents your personality, motivation, and abilities that relate to the selected discipline of your future major.

Key Points to Consider

  • It is crucial to settle on the appropriate tone. It has to be formal but not too business-like. It has to demonstrate your positive attitude and respect for the committee, but at the same time it has to be tailored to suit the specific institution to which you are applying. Be sure to browse through all the webpages of your selected college or university, and get a clear understanding of what sort of tone would be most appropriate when applying to become a student of this particular institution.
  • Write every admission essay from scratch, even if you are applying for the same program at several institutions. Try to approach every admission essay from a new perspective based on the values and mission of the particular institution, as well as the specifics of a certain program or course.
  • Be unique in your admission essay. Remember: your essay has to be different from all the others. Make it is zestful by personalizing the general essay structure and adding particular emotions to enrich your writing. Make sure the committee will have a clear and true picture of your personality, experience, and skills after reading your essay.
  • Choose a maximum of three major points. Develop each point in a separate paragraph. Instead of including too many details about yourself, focus on these three major positive traits that best emphasize your beneficial qualities for the program, course, or institution.
  • Be logical in your writing. Instead of jumping from one idea to another, create a clear outline of how you wish to present yourself; in what order you will formulate your thoughts; at which point will you switch from personal traits to relevant practical experience, then to background information, or hobbies and interests, and so on. Make sure that your essay flows smoothly in a particular direction—the one you opted for when listing major points in your draft earlier.

Do and Don’t

Common mistakes.

  • Repetitions throughout your admission essay are usually a sign that you do not have much to tell the committee about yourself. If you believe some personal trait or past experience of yours is extremely important, instead of repeating it several times, mention it only once, but give a vivid example or briefly outline a real-life situation to help the reader form a better picture and, in doing so, remember this particular bit of your admission essay.
  • A dryly written admission essay has a strong chance of failing. Do not confuse “formal” language with “dry” language. Using emotional adjectives and adverbs is not necessarily taboo. As long as the situation or experience you are describing calls for a bright and colorful description, go for it.
  • Overloading your admission essay with first-person pronouns. While your essay does have to be personalized, too many me , my , I , and mine will only make it sound self-indulgent and immature.
  • Using passive voice too often is another mistake applicants get trapped into, trying to sound more sophisticated and formal. Make your admission essay vivid and lively by using active voice, as this will help create a more positive image of your personality.
  • Writing in long confusing sentences, as well as run-on sentences. This is why you have to proofread your admission essay a few times. If you cannot follow your own idea halfway through the sentence, rephrase it into several short and simple sentences. Remember, reading and understanding your admission essay should be a pleasure rather than a tough, mind-boggling task.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic admission essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our admission essay samples to link theory with practice.

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

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Writing a strong college admissions essay

Learn about the elements of a solid admissions essay.

Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes

Learn some of the most common mistakes made on college essays

Brainstorming tips for your college essay

Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

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Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

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Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

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What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?

How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start early.  Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
  • Keep the focus narrow.  Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
  • Be yourself.  Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
  • Be creative.  “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
  • Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.

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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.

  • AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business,  All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including  Pine Row Press ,  Months to Years,  and  Atlanta Review .

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College Essays

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Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit

You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.

In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.

For example, the University of Illinois says :

"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."

As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!

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Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

How Flexible Is the Word Limit?

But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?

Can I Go Over the Word Limit?

If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:

First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim down anyways.

If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.

Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!

Can I Go Under the Word Limit?

If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.

However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.

Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.

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Don't let this sinister hand stop you from writing everything you have to say!

What If There Is No Word Limit?

Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:

Writing Sample

Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.

For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :

"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."

While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."

So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.

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Implicit Length Guideline

Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?

See, for example, this Wellesley supplemental essay prompt :

"When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the "Wellesley 100" is a good place to start. Visit The Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (Not-so-secret tip: The "why" matters to us.)"

There's no page or word limit here, but it does say to respond "in two well-developed paragraphs." This gives you an idea of what's reasonable. "Well-developed" certainly means the paragraphs can be long, but even two long paragraphs shouldn't exceed 500 words or so. That's what I mean by an "implicit" word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.

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But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?

Treasure Hunt

There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.

For example, the University of Chicago provides six "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.

However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays: 

“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”

So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.

Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length

If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!

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"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"

The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.

What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!

Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:

If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.

There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.

You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."

If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.

With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!

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Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!

What's Next?

Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .

If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!

Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !

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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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How Long Should a College Essay Be? | Word Count Tips

Published on September 29, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on June 1, 2023.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

You should aim to stay under the specified limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, if you write too little, it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.

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Table of contents

Word count guidelines for different application types, how to shorten your essay, how to expand your essay, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Each university has a different suggested or required word count depending on which application portal it uses.

Some application portals will allow you to exceed the word count limit, but admissions officers have limited time and energy to read longer essays. Other application portals have a strict limit and will not allow you to exceed it.

For example, in the Common App , the portal will not allow you to submit more than 650 words. Some colleges using the Common App will allow you to submit less than 250 words, but this is too short for a well-developed essay.

For scholarship essays , diversity essays , and “Why this college?” essays , word count limits vary. Make sure to verify and respect each prompt’s limit.

Don’t worry too much about word count until the revision stage ; focusing on word count while writing may hinder your creativity. Once you have finished a draft, you can start shortening or expanding your essay if necessary.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

On some application portals, you can exceed the word limit, but there are good reasons to stay within it:

  • To maintain the admissions officer’s attention
  • To show you can follow directions
  • To demonstrate you can write concisely

Here are some strategies for shortening your essay.

Stay on the main point

It’s good to use vivid imagery, but only include relevant details. Cut any sentences with tangents or unnecessary information.

My father taught me how to strategically hold the marshmallow pierced by a twig at a safe distance from the flames to make sure it didn’t get burned, ensuring a golden brown exterior.

Typically, my father is glued to his computer since he’s a software engineer at Microsoft. But that night, he was the marshmallow master. We waited together as the pillowy sugary goodness caramelized into gooey delight. Good example: Sticks to the point On our camping trip to Yosemite, my family spent time together, away from technology and routine responsibility.

My favorite part was roasting s’mores around the campfire. My father taught me how to hold the marshmallow at a safe distance from the flames, ensuring a golden brown exterior.

These college essay examples also demonstrate how you can cut your essay down to size.

Eliminate wordiness

Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay. If a word doesn’t add value, cut it.

Here are some common examples of wordiness and how to fix them.

Use a paraphrasing tool

If you want to save time, you can make use of a paraphrasing tool . Within the tool you can select the “short” mode to rewrite your essay in less words. Just copy your text in the tool and within 1 click you’ll have shortened your essay.

If you’re significantly under the word count, you’re wasting the opportunity to show depth and authenticity in your essay. Admissions officers may see your short essay as a sign that you’re unable to write a detailed, insightful narrative about yourself.

Here are some strategies for expanding your essay.

Show detailed examples, and don’t tell generic stories

You should include detailed examples that can’t be replicated by another student. Use vivid imagery, the five senses, and specific objects to transport the reader into your story.

Reveal your feelings and insight

If your essay lacks vulnerability or self-reflection, share your feelings and the lessons you’ve learned.

Be creative with how you express your feelings; rather than simply writing “I’m happy,” use memorable images to help the reader clearly visualize your happiness. Similarly, for insight, include the follow-up actions from your lessons learned; instead of claiming “I became a hard worker,” explain what difficult tasks you accomplished as a result of what you learned.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.

You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.

If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay.

You can speed up this process by shortening and smoothing your writing with a paraphrasing tool . After that, you can use the summarizer to shorten it even more.

There is no set number of paragraphs in a college admissions essay . College admissions essays can diverge from the traditional five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in English class. Just make sure to stay under the specified word count .

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Courault, K. (2023, June 01). How Long Should a College Essay Be? | Word Count Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/college-essay/college-essay-length/

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Graded Written Paper

The graded written paper will help the Admission Office assess the student’s written expression in an academic setting. This will further the holistic understanding of the student’s application and help admission officers evaluate the student’s potential contributions and ability to thrive in the University’s rigorous academic environment.

We ask all students to submit a graded written paper for consideration as part of their application to Princeton.

When selecting a paper to submit, please keep in mind the following guidelines:

The paper should be writing done for an academic course, preferably an English, social studies or history course, during the last three years of secondary school, including senior year.

You may send a paper, essay, research paper or essay exam. We are interested in seeing expository writing only, not creative writing.

One to two pages in length is sufficient.

The paper should include the course instructor’s grade, and comments if your instructor provided any.

Princeton no longer requires applicants to submit the optional writing section of the SAT or ACT (the SAT Essay or ACT Writing Test), because taking the test with the optional writing section adds an additional cost that may be a financial burden to some applicants. We became concerned that students at schools where the ACT or SAT is offered for free, but only without the optional writing section, would then need to pay to take the test with the optional writing section. Please review our standardized testing policy .

NOTE: If submitting an official score report is a financial hardship, Princeton will continue to review applications with self-reported scores, verified by a school official such as a school counselor, teacher or dean.

How to Submit the Graded Written Paper

To submit your graded written paper, choose one  of the following options:

Option 1:  Upload the graded written paper alongside your application materials when submitting the Common Application or QuestBridge Application.

Option 2:  Mail, email or upload the graded written paper to your applicant portal.

The grade and the teacher comments should appear on the paper. If a grading rubric was used, please include this information along with your paper. The Admission Office is more interested in the quality of the writing than the grade it received and encourages you to submit a graded written paper that shows your best efforts, regardless of the grade.

If your school does not offer grades for student work, please submit teacher comments and a rubric. 

If you have already graduated and are taking a year off, you may contact your secondary school to obtain a graded written paper.

Please see additional information about the graded written paper on the pages that offer further details for:

Transfer students

International students

Home-schooled students

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Meaning of admission in English

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admission noun ( ACCEPTING )

  • acknowledge something as something
  • acknowledgedly
  • acknowledgment
  • admission of guilt
  • breastbeating
  • come clean idiom
  • self-admittedly
  • self-confessed
  • self-confessedly
  • self-confession
  • swallow your words idiom
  • take something back

admission noun ( ALLOWING IN )

  • gain admittance
  • misconnection

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Admission | american dictionary, admission noun [c/u] ( permission to enter ), admission noun [c/u] ( statement ), admission | business english, examples of admission, collocations with admission.

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Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. Here’s what you need to know

Catholics in the Philippines mark Ash Wednesday by going to church and have a priest or minister draw a cross of ashes on their forehead. Ash Wednesday is a solemn day of fasting that signals the start of the Lenten Season. (AP Video: Joeal Calupitan)

FILE - Valentine's Day balloons are displayed at a grocery store in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Feb. 10, 2022. In 2024, Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight due to a calendar collision of events — it’s Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

FILE - Valentine’s Day balloons are displayed at a grocery store in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Feb. 10, 2022. In 2024, Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight due to a calendar collision of events — it’s Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

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FILE - Zoe Gutierrez receives ashes on her forehead for Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Odessa, Texas. In 2024, Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight due to a calendar collision of events — it’s Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. (Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP, File)

FILE - A Mexican mariachi band surrounded by heart-shaped balloons awaits the arrival of a couple’s marriage proposal ceremony at the Lake Hollywood Park in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2022. In 2024, Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight due to a calendar collision of events — it’s Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight this year due to a calendar collision of events.

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day , the fixed annual celebration of love and friendship , marked by cute couples, eager elementary school students — and critics who deride its commercialization. But it also happens to be Ash Wednesday, the solemn day of fasting and reflection that signals the start of Christianity’s most penitent season.

WHY IS ASH WEDNESDAY ON VALENTINE’S DAY THIS YEAR?

Ash Wednesday is not a fixed date. Its timing is tied to Easter Sunday, and for most Christians, Easter will fall on March 31 this year.

FILE - A statue of Benjamin Franklin is seen at The Franklin Institute, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, in Philadelphia. Franklin, like some other key founders, admired Jesus as a moral teacher but would not pass a test of Christian orthodoxy. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Easter also moves annually, swinging between March 22 and April 25 based on a calendar calculation involving the moon.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lays it out: “Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon occurring either on or after the spring equinox (March 21). ... To find the date for Ash Wednesday, we go back six weeks which leads to the First Sunday of Lent and four days before that is Ash Wednesday.”

This year, that happens to be Feb. 14.

WHAT HAPPENS ON ASH WEDNESDAY?

Not all Christians observe Ash Wednesday. For those who do, they typically attend an Ash Wednesday church service, where a priest or other minister draws a cross — or at least what is intended to look like one — of ashes on their forehead. The distribution of ashes underscores human mortality, among other themes.

It’s an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. The abstinence restrictions are continued on Fridays during Lent , which is the period of repentance and penance leading up to Holy Week observances — most significantly their belief in the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead.

WHERE DO THE ASHES COME FROM?

Typically, the ashes are from the palms used on Palm Sunday, which falls a week before Easter, according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America .

Ashes can be purchased, but some churches make their own by burning the palms from prior years. For example, several parishes and schools in the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese plan to hold palm burning ceremonies this year.

CAN CATHOLICS CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY ON ASH WEDNESDAY?

In addition to the candy heart and chocolate-fueled secular celebrations, Feb. 14 is also the Feast of St. Valentine. But Ash Wednesday with its fasting and abstinence requirements is far more significant and should be prioritized, said Catholic Bishop Richard Henning of Providence, Rhode Island, in the diocese’s official newspaper. His predecessor shared a similar message in 2018 .

“Ash Wednesday is the much higher value and deserves the full measure of our devotion,” he said. “I ask with all respect that we maintain the unique importance of Ash Wednesday. If you would like to wine and dine your Valentine, please do so on the Tuesday before. February 13 is Mardi Gras, ‘Fat Tuesday,’ a perfect day to feast and celebrate!”

WHO WAS ST. VALENTINE?

The history of Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine is a bit murky, but the holiday began as a liturgical feast day for a third-century Christian martyr, according to Lisa Bitel, a history and religion professor at the University of Southern California.

In the Conversation, her article titled, “ The ‘real’ St. Valentine was no patron of love ,” explains there may have been more than one St. Valentine executed for their faith in the same time period, but none of them appear to have been romantics. The emphasis on love appears to have come later.

Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

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The Trump fraud trial verdict goes well beyond ordering the ex-president to pay $355 million. Here's what the ruling means.

  • Trump, his eldest sons, and the Trump Organization must repay $364 million from a decade of fraud.
  • Friday's verdict also bars Trump from running a New York business for three years.
  • Judge Arthur Engoron wrote that Trump's frauds "leap off the page and shock the conscience."

Insider Today

In a scathing verdict that punishes a decade of deceit, the judge in Donald Trump's New York civil-fraud case on Friday slammed the GOP frontrunner, his two eldest sons, and his company with a nearly $364 million cash penalty.

"The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience," the verdict by the New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron , who has presided over the case for more than three years, said.

While Trump is personally on the hook for almost $355 million of that penalty, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump must pay $4 million each, and the former Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg must pay $1 million.

But the verdict hits way beyond just Trump's wallet. It targets his real-estate and golf-resort empire, the Trump Organization, in two ways that Trump has pushed against for years.

First, the verdict wrests control of the company further from the former president and his two eldest sons, leaving major company decisions to a yet-named "independent director of compliance" who'll operate under Trump's court-appointed monitor's continuing watch .

Second, it sets a three-year ban on Trump running the Trump Organization or any other business in the city and state where he made his name — and where he first seized a national spotlight as a brash real-estate mogul. For Trump, it's the commercial equivalent of being run out of town on a rail.

Significantly — and this is a big silver lining for Trump — the verdict reverses the most unfriendly elements of the judge's pre-trial " corporate death penalty " judgment from September.

He no longer has to surrender all of the Trump Organization's New York operating licenses, and the verdict does not mention the forced sale of any Trump properties.

The verdict caps a five-year effort by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James .

On Friday afternoon, James issued a statement celebrating the verdict.

She said that Trump has engaged in fraud for years to enrich his own family and company.

Now, he and his codefendants will have to pay more than $450 million, including interest.

"While he may have authored the 'Art of the Deal,' our case revealed that his business was based on the art of the steal," she said.

Trump is expected to immediately appeal, likely putting these and other punishments from the 92-page verdict on ice well past the November election.

But in the coming weeks, Trump will still have to spend millions on a surety bond — a bond guaranteeing performance of a contract or obligation — to guarantee he can pay whatever dollar figure, plus interest, an appellate court ultimately upholds.

Interest also applies to the penalties, potentially adding millions more to his ultimate verdict price tag.

"When confronted at trial with the statements, defendants' fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility or to impose internal controls to prevent future recurrences," Engoron wrote Friday.

The verdict holds Trump civilly liable, based on Engoron's three-month Manhattan bench trial, for leading a conspiracy to commit business and insurance fraud with help from his two eldest sons and a pair of long-standing Trump Organization executives.

"Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological," Engoron wrote.

"They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money," the verdict said.

"The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin," he added. "Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways."

In a statement, a Trump Organization spokesperson decried the verdict as a "gross miscarriage of justice."

"Every member of the New York business community, no matter the industry, should be gravely concerned with this gross overreach and brazen attempt by the Attorney General to exert limitless power where no private or public harm has been established," the spokesperson said in the statement. "If allowed to stand, this ruling will only further expedite the continuing exodus of companies from New York."

Read Friday's verdict here .

"Today, justice has been served. This is a tremendous victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes that we all must play by the same rules — even former presidents," James said in her statement Friday. 

" When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people," James continued. "Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank to get a mortgage to buy a home, and if they did, our government would throw the book at them. There simply cannot be different rules for different people .

Some lesser penalties

The verdict also bans Trump and the Trump Organization from borrowing from New York banks or purchasing real estate in the state for three years. James had asked for a five-year ban on such buying and borrowing in her lawsuit.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are banned from running a New York business for two years. James had asked for five-year bans for the brothers.

And it bans the two former executives, the ex-CFO Weisselberg and the former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney, from controlling another New York company's finances.

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Watch: Trump fights back as fraud trial begins

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Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

Items in drop-down list Shows your current list. Select an item and use the up or down arrows to change the order, Press - to remove a selected item.

Drop-down enabled Lets the user open the combo box and make selections.

Protect the form

Go to Developer > Protect Form .

Protect form button on the Developer tab

Note:  To unprotect the form and continue editing, select Protect Form again.

Save and close the form.

Test the form (optional)

If you want, you can test the form before you distribute it.

Protect the form.

Reopen the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy.

Creating fillable forms isn’t available in Word for the web.

You can create the form with the desktop version of Word with the instructions in Create a fillable form .

When you save the document and reopen it in Word for the web, you’ll see the changes you made.

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Tiffany Fede sits with legs crossed, her hands on her chest.

What Does Being Sober Mean Today? For Many, Not Full Abstinence.

More younger Americans are shunning alcohol while embracing cannabis, ketamine and psychedelics, shaking up the field of addiction medicine.

Tiffany Fede said her experiences after the death of her husband led her to recalibrate her approach to mind-altering substances. Credit... Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Supported by

Ernesto Londoño

By Ernesto Londoño

  • Feb. 4, 2024

Mike Reed, a musician and Uber driver in Arizona, said he quit drinking alcohol more than a decade ago when his roommates got so fed up with his unruly behavior that they threatened to kick him out.

Sobriety became such a core part of Mr. Reed’s identity that he launched an online dating website called “Single & Sober,” but in 2020, Mr. Reed, a Navy veteran, said he found himself struggling as his sister, who had Down syndrome, was dying of cancer.

Mr. Reed, 43, began smoking marijuana. More recently, he went to a clinic for infusions of ketamine, and tried tiny doses of psychoactive mushrooms. Mr. Reed said those substances improved his mood — and he still regards himself as sober, because he remains alcohol free.

Notions of what constitutes sobriety and problematic substance use have grown more flexible in recent years as younger Americans have shunned alcohol in increasing numbers while embracing cannabis and psychedelics — a phenomenon that alarms some addiction experts.

Not long ago, sobriety was broadly understood to mean abstaining from all intoxicating substances, and the term was often associated with people who had overcome severe forms of addiction. These days, it is used more expansively, including by people who have quit drinking alcohol but consume what they deem moderate amounts of other substances, including marijuana and mushrooms.

“Just because someone has a drinking problem doesn’t mean they have a problem with every single thing,” Mr. Reed said.

Mike Reed, in a helmet and pads, uses a skateboard.

As some drugs come to be viewed as wellness boosters by those who use them, adherence to the full abstinence model favored by organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous is shifting. Some people call themselves “California sober,” a term popularized in a 2021 song by the pop star Demi Lovato, who later disavowed the idea, saying on social media that “sober sober is the only way to be.”

Approaches that might have once seemed ludicrous — like treating opioid addiction with psychedelics — have gained broader enthusiasm among doctors as drug overdoses kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.

“The abstinence-only model is very restrictive,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon , a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who specializes in medical cannabis and is a recovering opioid addict. “We really have to meet people where they are and have a broader recovery tent.”

It is impossible to know how many Americans consider themselves part of an increasingly malleable concept of sobriety, but there are indications of shifting views of acceptable substance use. Since 2000, alcohol use among younger Americans has declined significantly, according to a Gallup poll .

At the same time, the use of cannabis and psychedelics has risen as state laws and attitudes grow more permissive , even as both remain illegal under federal law.

A survey found that 44 percent of adults aged 19 to 30 said in 2022 that they had used cannabis in the past year, a record high. That year, 8 percent of adults in the same age range said they had used psychedelics, an increase from the 3 percent a decade earlier.

Dr. Nora Volkow , a psychiatrist who since 2003 has led the National Institute on Drug Abuse , a division of the National Institutes of Health, said she was trained to think that “the only way out of an addiction is total and full sobriety.” Over the years, she said, she came to see that as unrealistic for some patients. Reduced use , or replacing highly addictive drugs like opioids with cannabis, may be a decent outcome for certain people, she said in an interview.

“You come to realize that there are people that are able to recover and yet they are not absolutely free of every substance,” Dr. Volkow said.

Weighing Risks

The concept is shaking up the field of addiction medicine. Adherents of the full-abstinence model, which include Narcotics Anonymous, follow a 12-step process that includes turning to a higher power to regain “sanity.” Members often celebrate sobriety milestones with tokens or coins to reflect how long they have abstained from using alcohol or drugs.

The danger of abusing opioids and alcohol has become increasingly clear in recent years. But questions remain in the medical community about the risks of some drugs now often touted as wellness enhancers rather than guilty pleasures — cannabis products as sleep aids, ketamine infusions to treat depression, and psychoactive mushrooms to ease anxiety.

Addiction specialists say the legal status of cannabis and psychedelics has made it hard to rigorously study their risks and medicinal potential, even as more people turn to them to self medicate. Doing so carries risks. Cannabis can be addictive, some doctors note. Psychedelic trips can be psychologically destabilizing , they say, and in rare cases have triggered psychotic episodes.

The N.I.D.A. has begun backing research exploring whether psychedelic trips might be effective in the treatment of addiction to other drugs. Dr. Volkow said that although recent clinical trials involving psychedelics were promising, she worried that the hype surrounding the therapeutic use of that class of drugs, along with medical cannabis, has outpaced the science.

“It’s clear that for some people an experience with some of these substances can be very revealing, but for others it can be very traumatizing,” she said.

Addiction treatment centers have responded with concern to the shifting definitions of sobriety.

Dr. Joseph Lee , the president of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider, said that people with severe substance use problems are generally the least equipped to make wise decisions about drug use.

“One truth about risk in people is that we all do a very poor job of assessing our own risk,” he said. He added that he had grown concerned about claims from new cannabis and psychedelic ventures as they compete for business. “They know exactly who they are targeting, and those people who are being targeted are misassessing their risk,” he said.

Individual Paths

Maya Richard-Craven, a journalist from Pasadena, Calif., said she has thought a lot about mitigating risk since she went to rehab in 2019 after her alcohol use became a problem.

She said she relapsed in 2020, consumed by anxiety early in the pandemic, and later turned to cannabis, regarding it as a healthier way to take the edge off. By 2021, she said she was smoking excessively, “to the point where I wanted to not feel anything.” That prompted her to “put down the pipe” and publish an essay warning about the risks of California sober.

More recently, Ms. Richard-Craven, 29, said she has resumed using marijuana but with greater restraint, typically smoking no more than half a joint at the end of the workday and the rest before bedtime. She credited cannabis with helping regulate her appetite, improving her sleep and, most of all, easing distress after a sexual assault. Still, Ms. Richard-Craven said she believed people with serious addictions should steer clear of all substances for at least their first year of recovery.

“That first year, you’re all over the place,” she said.

Others, like Connor Hunter-Kysor, 29, of Philadelphia, said that while he does not doubt that some people who have struggled with addiction can find a healthy approach to substance use, he has concluded that full abstinence is the right answer for him.

Addiction runs in his family, he said, and past efforts to consume drugs in moderation always failed.

“It’s a disease,” Mr. Hunter-Kysor said. “I know myself and I don’t want to play with fire any longer.”

Tiffany Fede, of Austin, Texas, once held similar views, but her outlook changed after her husband died in 2020.

Seeing him struggle with opioid addiction, Ms. Fede said she did what she had learned in the addiction recovery circles where their romance began years earlier: She watched him like a hawk, persuaded his dealer to stop supplying pills and balked when her husband suggested that taking psychoactive mushrooms might be helpful.

“I put my foot down,” said Ms. Fede, 43. “I was indoctrinated by this belief system that held that that would be harmful.”

Still, Ms. Fede said, her husband died of a methadone overdose.

Grieving, Ms. Fede said she began using magic mushrooms herself, an experience that led her to recalibrate her approach to mind-altering substances. Ms. Fede said she took three grams of psilocybin mushrooms, a trip that “helped me to not feel lonely for the first time.”

Ms. Fede said she no longer regards terms like sobriety useful and has ceased to think of herself as a recovering addict. These days, she said, her use of mushrooms and other mind-altering compounds is intentional and often done ritualistically. They have eased her grief, brought her joy and made her a better parent, she said.

“These deep journeys have made me more patient, more loving and more graceful with myself,” she said.

Ms. Fede said she had stopped obsessing over the events that led to her husband’s death. One question, though, continues to tug at her: If she had indulged his desire to try treating his opioid addiction with magic mushrooms, would he still be alive?

Ernesto Londoño is a Times reporter based in Minnesota, covering news in the Midwest and drug use and counternarcotics policy. More about Ernesto Londoño

A Guide to Psychedelic Health Care

Psychedelics — though mostly still illegal — have surged in popularity in recent years as alternative treatments for mental health..

Psychoactive mushrooms, illegal under federal law, are gaining popularity as therapy tools. Some experts worry that the market is growing faster than the research .

As psychedelics move from the underground to mainstream medicine, clinicians aspiring to work in the field are  inducing altered states with deep breathing .

Many drugs known for mind-altering trips are being studied to treat depression, substance use and other disorders.  This is what researchers have learned so far .

While psychedelics are showing real promise for therapeutic use, they can be dangerous for some. Here’s what to know about who should be cautious .

​​Ketamine, the once-taboo drug, has been repurposed to treat depression  and is even available for delivery. But how safe is the drug for use at home ?

Can psychedelics treat extreme grief and trauma? Here’s what we know and don’t know about the drugs’ effectiveness .

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  8. How to Write an Admission Essay

    Steps For Writing an Admission Essay. 1. Carefully read through the website of the university or college to which you are applying. Be sure you fully understand the mission and the direction of development and values the university or college proclaims. Furthermore, each educational institution may also have some specific requirements to narrow ...

  9. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

    Tips for writing an effective college essay. College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

  10. How important is the college admissions essay in the ...

    The college admissions essay accounts for roughly 25% of the weight of your application. At highly selective schools, there are four qualified candidates for every spot. While your academic achievements are important, your college admissions essay can help you stand out from other applicants with similar profiles.

  11. How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

    Here are some tips to get you started. Start early. Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don't have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to ...

  12. The Best College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be?

    In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

  13. How Long Should a College Essay Be?

    Published on September 29, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on June 1, 2023. Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

  14. How Long Should a College Essay Be?

    No. Do not go over the maximum word count. If there isn't a preferred word count, you should submit an essay that's under 650 words, according to the college application platform Common App, which works with over 900 colleges in the US [ 1 ]. Admissions officers are looking for well-written essays that follow directions.

  15. How Do You Write an Admission Essay?

    Typically, an admission process involves completing an application form and providing your child's high school transcript, certain entrance exam scores, and letters of recommendation. You will also have to write an admission essay for your application process.

  16. Graded Written Paper

    The graded written paper will help the Admission Office assess the student's written expression in an academic setting. This will further the holistic understanding of the student's application and help admission officers evaluate the student's potential contributions and ability to thrive in the University's rigorous academic environment.

  17. Common Admission Test

    The Common Admission Test ( CAT) [2] is a computer based test for admission in graduate management programs. The test consists of three sections: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension, Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Ability.The exam is taken online over a period of three hours, with one hour per section.

  18. admission noun

    noun /ədˈmɪʃn/ [uncountable, countable] the act of accepting someone into an institution, organization, etc.; the right to enter a place or to join an institution or organization Hospital admission is not necessary in most cases.

  19. Admission Definition & Meaning

    admission noun ad· mis· sion əd-ˈmi-shən ad- plural admissions Synonyms of admission 1 : an act of admitting : the fact or state of being admitted: such as a : the act of allowing something for consideration before a court

  20. ADMISSION

    the act of agreeing that something is true, especially unwillingly: admission of guilt Her silence was taken as an admission of guilt. by your own admission By his own admission (= as he has said), he has achieved little since he took over the company. [ + that ] I felt he would see my giving up now as an admission that I was wrong. Synonyms

  21. ADMISSION

    the act of agreeing that something is true, especially unwillingly: admission of guilt Her silence was taken as an admission of guilt. by your own admission By his own admission (= as he has said), he has achieved little since he took over the company. [ + that ] I felt he would see my giving up now as an admission that I was wrong. Synonyms

  22. admission papers Definition

    admission papers means the application for admission under section 2 of the Act and the written recommendations of the two registered medical practitioners on which it is founded; "assessment application" means an application by a patient who is detained for assessment and entitled to apply under section 66 (1) (a) of the Act or who, being so en...

  23. What is the meaning of the term: "scholarly or critical paper"?

    I have come across this term at many places in graduate admissions, and I do not understand it. For example, here, they want a writing sample that is "a recent scholarly or critical paper, 15 to 25 pages in length."And they do not explain more - which means they assume it is common knowledge what this means- but it is not obvious to me what this means.

  24. Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day fall on the same day this year

    Feb. 14 is a holiday heavyweight this year due to a calendar collision. It's Valentine's Day, the fixed annual celebration of love and friendship, marked by cute couples, eager elementary school students — and critics who deride its commercialization.

  25. Opinion

    The special counsel Robert K. Hur's report, in which he declined to prosecute President Biden for his handling of classified documents, also included a much-debated assessment of Mr. Biden's ...

  26. Trump Fraud Trial Verdict Goes Beyond $354M Payment; Ruling Explained

    In a scathing verdict that punishes a decade of deceit, the judge in Donald Trump's New York civil-fraud case on Friday slammed the GOP frontrunner, his two eldest sons, and his company with a ...

  27. Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

    Show the Developer tab. If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab.. Open a template or use a blank document. To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls.

  28. What Does Being Sober Mean Today? For Many, Not Full Abstinence

    What Does Being Sober Mean Today? For Many, Not Full Abstinence. More younger Americans are shunning alcohol while embracing cannabis, ketamine and psychedelics, shaking up the field of addiction ...