Thursday, October 13, 2016

It's College Application Time: The Dreaded Essay

When I'm not writing, reading or marketing works of fiction, one of my favorite jobs is grounded in a challenging reality: Helping high school seniors through the college application process. In my experience, regardless of his or her academic, athletic or extracurricular profile, every student arrives at my door with eyes full of panic. And, many kids tell me that the scariest part of the process is writing the dreaded ESSAY (Common App or school-specific). 

I believe that, if approached correctly, working through the components of a college application helps a student reach a deeper understanding of his or her talents, goals and needs. In this way, the pedagogy of the application drives toward identification of a compelling topic (often a key challenge for students), and a successful essay. This, in turn, gives a student a sense of satisfaction with the self-portrait painted in the application, a sense of agency in what can be a very disenfranchising process, and ultimately a satisfying acceptance outcome.

There's a long-form for the "how," including understanding how the essay fits into the application as a whole, analyzing the reasons colleges have been prioritized on an application list, and paying attention to technical elements of writing but, for today, I give you the second slide in the essay writing section of an admissions presentation I am preparing. Invite your stressed-out high school senior to stop thinking about how-to-impress admissions officers and consider this:


I believe this is a good tip for personal essay writing in any situation.