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Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a... Read more

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How NOT to Write about an Inspirational Person

Nelson_Mandela-450x350 As I have driven past numerous flags at half-mast in respect for Nelson Mandela, I have thought about all the “heroes” and motivational people my students have written about in their college application essays. As their writing coach and editor, I must carefully guide the students into not getting caught up in the person they’re writing about, but in how that person has made an impact on them.

As I see all these flags flying at half-mast, I understand this designation was not done for Mandela the man, but for all he stood for. He was imprisoned for life—finally being released after 27 years—for standing up for basic freedoms many of us take for granted. And when he was released, rather than being vengeful, he took positive steps in building his vision of a freer South Africa. He changed a nation and inspired much of the world.

Students writing an essay featuring Nelson Mandela, for instance, should NOT be trying to persuade the college admissions officers about his worth as an inspirational person. They should be writing about HOW Mandela has inspired them. In other words, focus on the inspiration and not on the man. In this way, the admissions officers can see how the applicant thinks. After all, who is applying: the prospective student or Nelson Mandela?

Let me know if this makes sense. It’s one of the biggest problems I see in students’ essays.

So as I drive past all these flags as half-mast, I see the symbols of our nation and state paying respect for all Mandela stood for. They are the best of American ideals, and they are spreading.

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Nancy Frieder

About Nancy Frieder

Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a way to attract admissions officers. Those who work with Nancy not only improve their writing, but also learn to target an audience with a unique reflection of themselves in a way that their test scores and GPA cannot.

Nancy has lived in Montgomery County for more than 27 years. She has held reporting and editing positions for both local and national publications, and enjoys substitute teaching in Montgomery County Public Schools. Nancy and her husband just became empty-nesters, as both of their children now attend college. Their dog, Fez, is getting more attention than ever!

Catch up with Nancy on Facebook and at her website The Write Stuff Help.

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