With the release of Common App's new essay prompts
comes the opportunity for high school Juniors to begin thinking about
their college application personal statement and assorted (or was that,
sordid?) essays. [Note that we said, "thinking about," not stressing
As we've suggested, quite strongly, in past posts, the essay
is your opportunity -- perhaps the best opportunity -- to truly set yourself apart
from the legion of college applicants soon to join you on the front lines of college admissions.
Perhaps a snippet from our past post, The College Essay: Striving To Distance Yourself From The Madding Crowd
, is in order here:
So, what makes for a winning essay? Length? Ahh
Brevity is still the soul of wit. And pity the poor admissions officer
who, reading your essay at 4:45 PM, had to digest some 100 other "My Experience As A Camp Counselor"
or "Building A Habitat for Humanity in Honduras"
writings before yours. Indeed, go for more than the minimum of 250 words suggested by the Common App, but please, no War and Peace
treatise. [No longer an issue on the Common App, the new platform
setting a strict minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 600 words.]Depth?
Who wouldn't want to read about obscure theories in astrophysics or the
intricacies of foreign affairs that only a policy wonk could
appreciate? [Then again, if you are applying for a specialized program
that calls for a recitation of such knowledge, or you can otherwise make
an essay about nanoparticles hurtling through an accelerator a
fascinating read, hey, go for it.] Keep it simple
, so even the likes of The College Whisperer
could understand. Keep it real.
Write about what you know and who you are. Incorporate and elaborate upon your own life experiences and passions. What will you bring to campus
(aside from your entire wardrobe and a high def TV to be named later)? Why are you the perfect match for this college?
Add a touch of humor
(shying away from the stand-up routine for which you are known in high
school lunch rooms, far and wide), and a tad of pathos. Humble yet
confident. Assured but not a braggart. Show the world who you are, and who you hope to become as you go through your college career. Tell your story.
to write about? No idea how to get started? Well, the topic can be
about almost anything and practically everything (within the rather
broad limits of the prompt). [The College Whisperer
wonders whether Jerry Seinfeld's application -- to Queens College
-- contained an essay, like his television show, about nothing
?] As long as the focus is you, your accomplishments, your goals, and the means you choose to take you from here to there
. Think of this as your JFK moment. Ask
not what the college experience can do for you, but what together, you
can do for the college community, both on and off campus
One last thought (for now). Always keep in mind that's it's not only what you say that matters, but also, how you say it
Be bold. Be creative. Above all, be yourself.
Plan. Prepare. Prevail!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer
Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer
™ knows. . .
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