Hi, I'm BJ. For more than 40 years, my mission has been to provide provide high quality, low-cost solutions to help all clients achieve success --- regardless of their endeavor. Now that I am a semi-retired virtual administrative assistant, I hope to continue to share some of my knowledge through this blog. I'm working on several projects, so please be patient while I dust off some old posts, before I write in earnest.

Latest Posts

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Scholarship Essay Guide

This article contains three parts:

    Step One: Brainstorming
    Step Two: Selecting a Topic 
    Step Three: Writing the Essay

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Grad School Admission Tips

The best way to approach your personal statement for graduate school is to imagine that you have five minutes with someone from the admissions committee. 

How would you go about making the best case for yourself while holding the listener's interest? 

What would you include and omit in your story? 

Figuring out the answer to these questions is critical to successfully preparing an effective statement.

College Admissions Essay Samples

College Admissions Essay Samples
Your essay is very important in the college admission process. It gives the admissions officer or admissions committee a glimpse into your character, background, and writing ability. Below are college admission essay samples that actually worked for students.

This section contains five essays:

Personal Essay
Story Essay
Detail Essay
Personal Growth Essay
Hobbies and Interest Essay

Thursday, August 29, 2019

College Admissions Essay Secrets

Guest post by Anonymous

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay
Each year, Harvard rejects four out of five valedictorians and hundreds of students with perfect SAT scores, leaving applicants and parents wondering what went wrong. While there is no secret formula for gaining admission to a top school, there are many ways to ensure rejection, and the most common by far is taking the admissions essay lightly.

Over one-third of the time an admissions officer spends on your application is spent evaluating your essay. Admissions officers use the essay to compare hundreds or even thousands of applicants with similar grades, activities, and SAT scores. To stand out, your essay must not only demonstrate your grasp of grammar and ability to write lucid, structured prose, you must also paint a vivid picture of your personality and character, one that compels a busy admissions officer to accept you.  Fortunately, unlike every other aspect of the application, you control your essay, and can be sure that the glimpse you give the admissions committee into your character, background, and writing ability is the most positive one possible.

As the founder of EssayEdge.com, the Net’s largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, EssayEdge.com helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to schools ranging from Harvard to State U.

Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for EssayEdge.com, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise.

- Geoff Cook


1. Don’t Thesaurusize Your Essay. Do Use Your Own Voice.
Admissions officers can tell Roget from an 18-year-old high school senior. Big words, especially when misused, detract from the essay, inappropriately drawing the reader’s attention and making the essay sound contrived.

Before: Although I did a plethora of activities in high school, my assiduous efforts enabled me to succeed.

After: Although I juggled many activities in high school, I succeeded through persistent work. 

2. Don’t Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting.
Admissions officers have to read hundreds of essays, and they must often skim. Abstract rumination has no place in an application essay. Admissions officers aren’t looking for a new way to view the world; they’re looking for a new way to view you the applicant. The best way to grip your reader is to begin the essay with a captivating snapshot. Notice how the slightly jarring scene depicted in the “after” creates intrigue and keeps the reader’s interest.

Before: The college admissions and selection process is a very important one, perhaps one that will have the greatest impact on one’s future. The college that a person will go to often influences his personality, views, and career.

After: An outside observer would have called the scene ridiculous: a respectable physician holding the bell of his stethoscope to the chest of a small stuffed bear.

3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don’t Tell!
Good essays are concrete and grounded in personal detail. They do not merely assert “I learned my lesson” or that “these lessons are useful both on and off the field.” They show it through personal detail. “Show don’t tell,” means if you want to relate a personal quality, do so through your experiences and do not merely assert it.

I developed a new compassion for the disabled.

After: The next time Mrs. Cooper asked me to help her across the street, I smiled and immediately took her arm. 

The first example is vague and could have been written by anybody. But the second sentence evokes a vivid image of something that actually happened, placing the reader in the experience of the applicant.

4. Do Be Concise. Don’t Be Wordy.

Wordiness not only takes up valuable space, but it also can confuse the important ideas you’re trying to convey. Short sentences are more forceful because they are direct and to the point. Certain phrases such as “the fact that” are usually unnecessary. Notice how the revised version focuses on active verbs rather than forms of “to be” and adverbs and adjectives.

Before: My recognition of the fact that the project was finally over was a deeply satisfying moment that will forever linger in my memory.

After: Completing the project at last gave me an enduring sense of fulfillment.

5. Don’t Use Slang, Yo!

Write an essay, not an email. Slang terms, cliches, contractions, and an excessively casual tone should be eliminated. Here’s one example of inappropriately colloquial language.

Well here I am thinking about what makes me tick. You would be surprised. What really gets my goat is when kids disrespect the flag. My father was in ‘Nam and I know how important the military is to this great nation.

6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions.
The best essays contain a variety of sentence lengths mixed within any given paragraph. Also, remember that transition is not limited to words like nevertheless, furthermore or consequently. Good transition flows from the natural thought progression of your argument.

Before: I started playing piano when I was eight years old. I worked hard to learn difficult pieces. I began to love music.

After: I started playing the piano at the age of eight. As I learned to play more difficult pieces, my appreciation for music deepened.

7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs.
Passive-voice expressions are verb phrases in which the subject receives the action expressed in the verb. Passive voice employs a form of the verb to be, such as was or were. Overuse of the passive voice makes prose seem flat and uninteresting.

Before: The lessons that prepared me for college were taught to me by my mother.

After: My mother taught me lessons that will prepare me for college.

8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions.
Ask your friends and family to keep these questions in mind:
  • Have I answered the question?
  • Does my introduction engage the reader? Does my conclusion provide closure?
  • Do my introduction and conclusion avoid summary?
  • Do I use concrete experiences as supporting details?
  • Have I used active-voice verbs wherever possible?
  • Is my sentence structure varied, or do I use all long or short sentences?
  • Are there any cliches such as cutting edge or learned my lesson?
  • Do I use transitions appropriately?
  • What about the essay is memorable?
  • What’s the worst part of the essay?
  • What parts of the essay need elaboration or are unclear?
  • What parts of the essay do not support my main argument?
  • Is every single sentence crucial to the essay? This must be the case.
  • What does the essay reveal about my personality?

9. Do Answer the Question.

Many students try to turn a 500-word essay into a complete autobiography. Not surprisingly, they fail to answer the question and risk their chances of attending college. Make sure that every sentence in your essay exists solely to answer the question. 

10. Do Revise, Revise, Revise.
The first step in an improving any essay is to cut, cut, and cut some more.  EssayEdge.com’s free admissions essay help course and Harvard-educated editors will be invaluable as you polish your essay to perfection. The EssayEdge.com free help course guides you through the entire essay-writing process, from brainstorming worksheets and question-specific strategies for the twelve most common essay topics to a description of ten introduction types and editing checklists.


The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the morning rush hour. Driven by an inexplicable compulsion, I enter the building along with ten other swimmers, inching my way toward the cold, dark locker room of the Esplanada Park Pool. One by one, we slip into our still-damp drag suits and make a mad dash through the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and kickboards on our way to the pool. Nighttime temperatures in coastal California dip into the high forties, but our pool is artificially warmed to seventy-nine degrees; the temperature differential propels an eerie column of steam up from the water’s surface, producing the spooky ambience of a werewolf movie. Next comes the shock. Headfirst immersion into the tepid water sends our hearts racing, and we respond with a quick set of warm-up laps. As we finish, our coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regimen of sets, intervals, and exhortations. 

Thus starts another workout. 4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and a five-minute drive to school. Then it’s back to the pool; the afternoon training schedule features an additional 5,500 yards. Tomorrow, we start over again. The objective is to cut our times by another tenth of a second. The end goal is to achieve that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of a race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow we accept the pitch–otherwise, we’d still be deep in our mattresses, slumbering beneath our blankets. In this sport, the antagonist is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyze the latest research on training technique, and experiment with workout schedules in an attempt to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning, and workouts are agonizing. 

I took part in my first swimming race when I was ten years old. My parents, fearing injury, directed my athletic interests away from ice hockey and into the pool. Three weeks into my new swimming endeavor, I somehow persuaded my coach to let me enter the annual age group meet. To his surprise (and mine), I pulled out an “A” time. I furthered my achievements by winning “Top 16″ awards for various age groups, setting club records, and being named National First Team All-American in the 100-Butterfly and Second Team All-American in the 200-Medley. I have since been elevated to the Senior Championship level, which means the competition now includes world-class swimmers. I am aware that making finals will not be easy from here–at this level, success is measured by mere tenths of a second. In addition, each new level brings extra requirements such as elevated weight training, longer weekend training sessions, and more travel from home. Time with friends is increasingly spent in the pursuit of the next swimming objective. 

Sometimes, in the solitude of the laps, my thoughts transition to events in my personal life. This year, my grandmother suffered a reoccurrence of cancer, which has spread to her lungs. She had always been driven by good spirits and independence, but suddenly my family had to accept the fact that she now faces a limited timeline. A few weeks later, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, my grandfather–who lives in Japan–learned he had stomach cancer. He has since undergone successful surgery, but we are aware that a full recovery is not guaranteed. When I first learned that they were both struck with cancer, I felt as if my own objective, to cut my times by fractions of a second, seemed irrelevant, even ironic, given the urgency of their mutual goals: to prolong life itself. Yet we have learned to draw on each other’s strengths for support–their fortitude helps me overcome my struggles while my swimming achievements provide them with a vicarious sense of victory. When I share my latest award or triumph story, they smile with pride, as if they themselves had stood on the award stand. I have the impression that I would have to be a grandparent to understand what my medals mean to them.

My grandparents’ strength has also shored up my determination to succeed. I have learned that, as in swimming, life’s successes often come in small increments. Sometimes even the act of showing up at a workout when your body and psyche are worn out separates a great result from a failure. The difference between success and failure is defined by the ability to overcome strong internal resistance. I know that, by consistently working towards my goals–however small they may seem–I can accomplish what I set for myself, both in and beyond the swimming pool.

Content provided by:
EssayEdge.com offers all users free access to the most extensive Admissions Essay Help Course on the Internet and over 300 Free Sample Admissions Essays accepted by the United States’ top undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Named “the world’s premier application essay editing service” by the New York Times Learning Network and “one of the best essay services on the Internet” by the Washington Post.

Note: Originally published November 16, 2009

Friday, January 5, 2018

BGGE Has Moved

After 15 years, BGGE has moved from Citymax to Blogger. As advertised, Citymax's  website building software includes reliable hosting, secure shopping cart, easy inventory management, and professional email accounts.  Their customer support was excellent. But last year I realized that I did not need all the features they offered.  By switching over to Blogger, which is free, I could save more than $300 a year.

Another reason I decided to move, I wanted to reduce the number of websites I managed.  I maintained  four of my own websites plus three client sites.  Finally, looking ahead, I want my blog to be my legacy.  My aim is to publish quality content that will be relevant to small business owners, students, job-seekers, and "you" after I'm gone.

Although  I had considered this move for over a year, actually switching over is scary.  This is a  major revamp. Each page must be transferred manually.  I apologize for missing pages or broken links during this overhaul. Thank you in advance for your patience.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Welcome to BGGE New Support Blog

Welcome to my new blog.  This blog was created to provide support for BGGE clients through articles, tips, and insights from various small business experts, with an occasional commentary on the challenges and triumphs of an aging freelance entrepreneur (me) working from home.

Not just for business owners, I'll also be adding reviews of some productivity tools that I personally use, a reading library, and resources for students, job-seekers, and retirees over the next few weeks.

Actually, bjg4bgge@blogspot isn't really new.  Initially, it was launched in 2009 as the "What's New" Blog.  I had just started a major revamp of BGGE.com, an 800-page site --- so most of my blog posts were about site updates.  At that time, a blogging tool was not offered by my website hosting provider, so I had to rely on a 3rd party blogging platform like Blogspot.

But things have changed since then.  As I am embark on another major overhaul of BGGE.com, I have decided to do a little spring cleaning - sorting through all my old posts, re-posting the more relevant articles, and throwing out the trash.  Now, site updates will be published on my company blog and Blogger will be used to publish support articles.  Please be patient as I spruce up posts and pages.

 I hope you find my new blog informative and useful.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Welcome to BGGE News Blog

BGGE News Blog is a convenient way for clients and visitors find out what's happening at BGGE.com or in the industry(s) that affects them.  Product reviews, gift shop "new arrival" announcements, and "free stuff" alerts will also be provided.  Visit often. Or subscribe to my blog posts by email or your favorite RSS reader for real-time updates.
Currently, I am doing a revamp of BGGE.com --- yes another one.  Over the next few weeks, you might find some pages misaligned, links broken and/or colors, header images, menu buttons temporarily missing.  But in the end, I hope you'll agree that BGGE.com is more visually pleasing and easier to navigate.  Most of the upcoming posts will be related to those changes.  I welcome your feedback and comments along the way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Business School Admissions Essay Samples

The essays below showcase the benefits of an EssayEdge edit. The revisions are vastly improved in terms of grammar and technical writing issues, while the constructive critiques provide customers with valuable suggestions for further improvements. 

By reviewing these samples, you will come to understand what EssayEdge can do to help you enhance your application essay or personal statement.

This section contains three MBA essays:

  • Why MBA? Essay
  • Uniqueness Essay
  • Qualifications Essay

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Does My Small Business Need a Budget?

    "I only have a small business, I don't need a budget."

    "I don't have enough money to budget."

    For many small business owners, the word "budget" is something for the bigger company - maybe they'll have one when their business "grows up."

    What is a Budget?
    The simple explanation is a budget is a plan for how you will manage all financial resources and all expenses for your business. The basic equation that you want to demonstrate in a budget is as follows:

    (estimated )Sales minus (estimated) Expenses = Profit (or loss)

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    All About Business Cards

    Business cards are a great way for your business to get it's name out into the world. Small, and convenient, these little cards provide your customers with your name and all your contact information, and because they're portable, your customers will be able to take your name with them wherever they go (an advantage over online advertising).

    Many companies provide fully customizable cards, allowing you to choose from font size and color to a unique logo. A good business card company will even let you choose the paper thickness and finish

    For those of you who do not wish to customize, many providers come with pre-designed templates where you only have to insert your information for a quick and easy card ready to be shipped.

    For those of you who wish to exercise your creative muscle, here are a few tips to follow:

    1. Less is More:
    It is pretty easy to get carried away with all the bells and whistles offered, but it usually doesn't take much for that little wallet sized card to get filled up with unnecessary decorations. Try to keep the main point in focus. Stick to the basics, this will also help get your message across quicker and easier for your customers.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Importance of a Good Financial Recordkeeping System

    Micro-business owners wear many hats.  But for many, the "bookkeeping hat" is one that is not always a good fit. Many of them lack the interest, time, or knowledge to maintain their books properly, but they still resist hiring a bookkeeper --- claiming "they can't afford it".

    I often respond, "Can you afford an audit, pay unnecessary penalties and interest, or go to jail"?  I know that might seem to be an overly-dramatic statement.  But I have approached potential clients who have said that they kept their books in their "heads".  I've come to realize that meant their idea of record keeping was to throw their receipts in a box, if they kept any, and called it a day.  And at tax time, they roughly estimated their income and expenses --- often based on the figures they used the previous year.  No matter how many times I have heard a similar version of this bookkeeping practice, I literally cringe.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Vision Directed Interviews

    You've probably read numerous job interview tips which list the ways to respond to the difficult interview questions: Tell me about Yourself; What are your work-related weaknesses?; Why are you leaving your current employer? These are the usual dreaded questions that we all expect to hear from interviewers. Typically interviewees are advised to create well-prepared and rehearsed scripts to respond to these dreaded questions. And so, during the course of the interview, interviewees sit on the edge of their seats waiting to respond, trying to remember the correct answers. And consequently, the interview becomes a race, a highly tense setting designed to stay one step ahead of the other with scripted conversation and pre-planned positioning and second-guessing. The possibility of authentically assessing the merits of the position and being able to evaluate how you might fit within the company's culture and mission is minimized in this scenario.

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