Before students set to work writing their Coalition Application essay, it’s worth holding a one-to-one session to help them strategise. There are two key planks of a Coalition Application essay strategy that it’s worth working through with students.
By this, we mean making sure that every student who is applying through the Coalition Application has a full overview of what the individual requirements are for each university they’re applying to.
For example, some colleges will only require students to submit a single essay through the Coalition Application. Meanwhile, others may also require students to submit additional supplemental essays about why they want to study at a particular institution.
Supplemental essays are a different beast to the main Coalition Application essay, and will require a subtly different approach. So if students need to submit these as well, this logistical planning is an important first step.
Make no mistake – the Coalition Application requires students to be extremely creative.
They will need to use all their critical and lateral thinking to ensure that they draft the best possible response to whichever essay prompt they opt for. The natural first move for most students will be to just pick a prompt, and go from there.
But just going straight to answering the prompt is arguably great tactics but bad strategy. A better approach is for students to brainstorm and strategise their personal and academic qualities first, and choose their essay prompt from there.
Because fundamentally, all the five essay prompts are asking students to explore variations on the same theme. Let’s look at a few examples of what we mean.
A student’s character
Fundamentally, US universities want to know about who a student is, their values, how they cope in the face of adversity, how they respond to a challenge to their sense of themselves. When you strip away all the window dressing, the Coalition Application essay prompts are essentially asking – ‘who are you?’
A student’s worldview
Each of the five prompts will ask a student to explain something about their worldview, or how they interact with the world around them. Nearly all of the Coalition essay prompts ask students to expand on a political, social, or moral viewpoint, or tell a story that relates to it.
A student’s background
We’ve discussed before how US universities are huge fans of the origin story. The five Coalition essay prompts will encourage students to open up about their past, their family history or their cultural roots.
Are your students stuck? Try these quick exercises
As we mentioned above, a student might look at these criteria and think that they’ve got nothing interesting to say. So here are a couple of quick exercises (let’s call them the Brainstorming Prompts) you can give students to help them plan their Coalition Essay.
- Go home and pick out a family heirloom, or object that you hold dear. What’s the story behind it? Why does it matter to you? What thoughts, feelings or memories does it evoke?
- Think about a trip you took, or a city/town/country you’ve visited. What was the reason for your trip? Did you learn anything from your visit? Who did you travel with? And, perhaps most importantly, how did it affect your worldview?
- Is there a member of your family, or a relative that you admire? Why? What’s their story?
- Is there a recent historical event that has affected you? Where were you when it happened? How did you feel? How did it affect your worldview?
- Have you taken part in an extracurricular activity that has had an impact on you? How has it affected your perception of yourself? Has it helped to shape your ambition?
These are just five ideas. Variations on these questions are great too! The point is to unlock your students’ sense of themselves, and to encourage them to be creative with their own back story.