Should You Gamble in your College Application Essay?
Should You Gamble in your College Application Essay?
This time of year, a flurry of stories hit the national media about students who enter all of the Ivy League schools (plus Stanford).
The stories always include scrutiny and speculation about their college application essays.
I must admit that I’m sort of a sucker for these articles.
There’s such unpredictability with who gets into what schools.
Everyone is seeking clues as to what works and what doesn’t especially with the essays.
Are you able to blame them?
Frequently, the risk-takers seemed to prevail.
Over the last month we’ve had Ziad and his #BlackLifeMatters essay; the Quadruplet’s package deal; and first-gen Cassandra Hsiao’s piece on her broken English.
Does this mean you should take a risk together with your essay?
The truth is what realy works for others most likely won’t do the job.
In fact, it may backfire.
Just how do you know?
(For the record, I actually don’t believe the ivies are the end-all in getting a stellar education. But if you’re obsessed, read on…)
Ziad while the Quadruplets Took A creative risk with Their Essays And Won!
I loved the content concerning the quadruplets who teamed up on their applications and essays and got into Yale and Harvard as a package deal.
This was clearly a calculated risk that paid off big time.
‚In a clever stroke, the four brothers wrote essays that may be read separately, yet are designed to be read together, like four pieces of a puzzle. Each piece is charming and winning on its own, but together, they are even better, and college admissions officers everywhere appeared to agree and were unwilling to pull them apart.‘ From the Nyc Times article.
This showed me that colleges and schools can be open-minded to imaginative admissions approaches, but only if there already are solid reasons they desire those students.
Just this week, A american-muslim teen who fights for social justice named Ziad Ahmed made headlines after getting accepted to Stanford University using a college application essay that included only the same hashtag phrase #BlackLivesMatter a hundred times.
A controversial essay in regards to a controversial subject.
And he got in.
What does that say about these essays?
Exactly What does it say about crazy-competitive colleges, such as Stanford?
Some college admissions industry pundits were handwringing, saying this out-of-the-box essay proved the essays don’t matter.
I say hog wash.
In my experience, it demonstrates that taking a risk will pay off with one of these essays, mainly because countless of them say the same thing in the same manner, and college admissions officers can’t help jumping at otherwise exemplary students who look for a unique means to convey themselves.
Should you take such a risk?
Should you write an essay and only include one phrase 100 times?racism research paper topics
It worked for Ziad because he may be the one and only Ziad, and this one and only essay perfectly reflected something unique and fundamental about him.
You aren’t Ziad, therefore it won’t do the job.
And keep in your mind that his essay also somehow perfectly complemented everything else he showed Stanford about himself in his application, and I’m guessing that was a pretty impressive package.
If you decide to take a risk together with your essay, it must be consistent with who you are and accurately reflect your individuality as well as be consistent together with your entire application.
Your Risk Should Reflect You
Copying the risk someone else took will not work.
Other risk-takers can encourage and give you ideas, yes.
But what you choose to write in your essays must originate from your authentic self.
If they do not, they could hurt you. That’s the last thing you want.
Remember, colleges use these essays to round away their image of you from your complete applications.
If you are a more conservative, head-down, follow-the-rules sort of student, perhaps your essay should reflect that style with regards to your topic. And become more old-fashioned.
If you’re bold and idealistic, while having a whacky side, it might create sense to do something online, like Ziad’s topic.
(Personally, I believe Ziad’s piece was more of a stunt than an essay. The risk, in my opinion, should be more in your topic and what you must say about it. Avoid gimmicks!)
Within the last decade, I’ve seen all sorts of topics help get students accepted.
There was clearly the boy who wrote about stealing an infant goat.
And getting caught by the cops.
He even ended it saying he would do it all over again. What? (He included larger life lessons, so his
irreverent ending worked.)
He experienced NYU.
I’ve seen students write essays on topics which can be often red-flagged as cliche or overdone including the death of a parent or an activities injury or a mission trip land their dream schools.
In my opinion if the topic holds true to what that student desires to showcase, and enhances their admissions self-portrait, just about anything goes.
Some students have faced horrendous hardship in their lives, that has assisted define who they are.
Frequently, it’s a wise idea for them to create about those personal challenges.
Others, however, have yet to face many intense personal crises or challenges.
I advise these students to brainstorm more everyday topics. (One student just explained she got into all her target schools, including Harvard and Stanford, and her topic was tying her shoes.)
In yesteryear, I had to function hard to convince students and parents that writing about ‚mundane‘ topics wasn’t taking a risk.
In my opinion current feedback indicating that these kinds of essays are effective has confirmed their power.
For example, last ’season’s‘ college application essay poster child, Brittany Stinson, who got into all of the ivies, wrote her essay about her love for Costco. (And she even credited this blog for inspiring her to feature such an everyday topic! Study my Q&A on How Brittany Stinson Wrote Her Costco Essay.)
This season, another brilliant student, Cassandra Hsiao from here in Orange County, California, got into all of the ivies with her essay on an ‚everyday‘ topic her struggle learning English.
I also believe that getting in to a bundle of top colleges, even all the ivies, does perhaps not always prove the student’s essay was exemplary.
Often times school decided they wanted a student based on other qualifications and attributes, and the essay played no role.
You never know.
I probably ended up being in the minority, but I thought the essay written by Kwasi Enin, another brilliant and talented student who experienced all the ivies in 2015, wasn’t that hot. In fact, I thought it had been in the dull side.
As it is possible to see, it’s nearly impossible to figure out how much the essay mattered in every one of these celebrity acceptances.
The only certainty is that these essays failed to nix their opportunity of acceptance. Beyond that, we have been all only hypothesizing.
For many, the essay can tip the scale in a student’s favor. For others, it might not have mattered at all.
All you certainly can do is write your most useful essay, really.
Should YOU Take a Risk together with Your Essay?
If you’re considering taking a risk together with your essay topic, however, think hard about why you are doing that.
Exactly What do you have to gain?
Exactly What do you have to get rid of?
If you’re going to a super competitive college, and know you have outstanding stats, maybe it makes sense to step out of the box a bit in an attempt to help make an impression.
Remember, every one of the students who got into multiple ivies had off-the-charts stats, such as for instance near perfect test scores and grades.
Do your due diligence and research your target schools so that you have some concept of what kind of student they are searching for, and make an effort to line up the tone and topic that best shows why you are really a fit.
If you don’t wish to mess around gaming the whole process, adhere to getting a topic that highlights what enables you to tick, and trust that may help you best land where you belong.
I like that approach the most effective, frankly, regardless of what university or college you wish to attend.
THIS SITE has my most useful posts to master just how you will find your own unique topic and ace your essay, risk or no risk.
I’ll be offering three, two-part essay workshops this summer within my hometown of Laguna Beach on how to write awesome college application essays.
The workshops, which is 90 moments each on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, will be held at our coastal town’s wonderful community center, on Third Street, called the Suzi Q, located in the heart of our downtown.
The boot camps will include sets from understanding what makes an effective essay to how exactly to brainstorm unique topics to editing and polishing drafts.
The essay workshops will teach students how to craft personal statement essays that will be perfect for the Common Application and other core essays, as well as writing admissions essays for the University of California and other universites and colleges.
Students will also learn tips about how to answer the most typical supplemental essay prompts, such as why they are a ‚fit‘ with regards to their target schools or writing about their extracurricular activities.
I will focus on helping students learn to recognize and share their real-life experiences to spin into essays that reveal who these are typically, how they learn and what they value.
My goal with one of these essay workshops is to help students find topics and find out how to craft narrative style essays to provide them more confidence in handling these stressful essays. Stories rock college application essays!
All students of my essay workshops will receive free digital copies of my popular writing guides, all available on Amazon.
Dates for the three weekend workshops (students only need attend ONE weekend workshop):
June 24 and 25July 22 and 23August 26 and 27
Days are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $150 per weekend bootcamp. These workshops are intended for collegebound students.
Registration for my essay workshops through the City of Laguna Beach starts May 1. To learn more and/or sign up, click here: www.lagunabeachcity.net. Click on the Recreation Department to find my workshops.