Should You Gamble on your own College Application Essay?
Should You Gamble on your own College Application Essay?
This time of year, a flurry of stories hit the national media about students who enter into most of the Ivy League schools (plus Stanford).
The stories always include scrutiny and speculation about their college application essays.
I need to admit that I’m sort of a sucker for these articles.
There’s such unpredictability with who gets into what schools.
Everyone wants clues as to what works and what doesn’t especially with the essays.
Is it possible to blame them?
Usually, 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 along with your essay?
The fact is that which works for others most likely won’t work for you.
In fact, it might backfire.
So how do you know?
(For the record, I really don’t believe the ivies are the end-all in getting a stellar education. But if you should be obsessed, read on…)
Ziad as well as the Quadruplets Took A creative risk with Their Essays And Won!
I loved this article in regards to 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 will be read separately, yet are supposed 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 did actually agree and were unwilling to pull them apart.’ From the Ny Times article.
This showed me that colleges and schools can be open-minded to innovative admissions approaches, but only if there already are solid reasons they need 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 of a controversial subject.
And he got in.
What does that say about these essays?
Just 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.
If you ask me, it demonstrates that taking a risk pays off with your essays, mainly because so many of them say the same thing in the in an identical way, and college admissions officers can’t help jumping at otherwise exemplary students who locate a unique method to express themselves.
Should you take such a risk?
Should you write an essay and only include one phrase 100 times?argumentative essay racism
It worked for Ziad because he could be the one and only Ziad, and this one and only essay perfectly reflected something unique and fundamental about him.
You aren’t Ziad, so that it won’t work for you.
And keep at heart 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 along with your essay, it must be consistent with who you are and accurately reflect your individuality and in addition be consistent along with your entire application.
Your Risk Should Reflect You
Copying the risk someone else took will not work.
Other risk-takers can motivate and give you ideas, yes.
But what you determine to write in your essays must result from your authentic self.
If they don’t really, they could hurt you. That’s the last thing you want.
Remember, colleges use these essays to round down their photo of you from your complete applications.
If you are a more conservative, head-down, follow-the-rules type of student, perhaps your essay should reflect that style when it comes to your topic. And be much more old-fashioned.
If you should be bold and idealistic, and now have a whacky side, it will make sense to do something around, like Ziad’s topic.
(Personally, I do believe Ziad’s piece was more of a stunt than an essay. The risk, i really believe, should be more in your topic and what you need to say about it. Avoid gimmicks!)
Over the last decade, I’ve seen every type of topics help get students accepted.
There was the boy who wrote about stealing a child 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 found myself in NYU.
I’ve seen students write essays on topics that are often red-flagged as cliche or overdone such as the death of a parent or a recreations injury or a mission trip land their dream schools.
I really believe if the topic does work to what that student wishes to showcase, and enhances their admissions self-portrait, most situations goes.
Some students have faced horrendous hardship in their lives, which includes aided define who they are.
Usually, it’s a wise idea for them to publish 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 said she got into all her target schools, including Harvard and Stanford, and her topic was tying her shoes.)
In the past, I had to work hard to convince students and parents that writing about ‘mundane’ topics had not been taking a risk.
I really believe present feedback indicating that these forms of essays are effective has confirmed their power.
For example, last ‘season’s’ college application essay poster child, Brittany Stinson, who got into most 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! Browse 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 most of the ivies with her essay on an ‘everyday’ topic her struggle learning English.
I also believe that getting into a bundle of top colleges, even all the ivies, does maybe not fundamentally prove the student’s essay was exemplary.
Several times school decided they wanted a student based on other qualifications and attributes, and the essay played no role.
You never know.
I probably had been in the minority, but I thought the essay written by Kwasi Enin, another brilliant and talented student who found myself in all the ivies in 2015, wasn’t that hot. In fact, I thought it absolutely was regarding the dull side.
As you can see, it’s very nearly impossible to figure out how much the essay mattered in all these celebrity acceptances.
The only certainty is that these essays did not nix their possibility of acceptance. Beyond that, we are all only hypothesizing.
For a few, the essay can tip the scale in a student’s favor. For others, it might not have mattered at all.
All you can do is write your most readily useful essay, really.
Should YOU Take a Risk along with Your Essay?
If you should be considering taking a risk along with your essay topic, however, think hard about why you are doing that.
Just What do you have to gain?
Just What do you have to reduce?
If you should be 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 endeavor to help make an impression.
Remember, all of the students who got into multiple ivies had off-the-charts stats, such as for example near perfect test scores and grades.
Do your due diligence and research your target schools so you have some notion of which type of student they are seeking, and you will need to line up the tone and topic that best shows why you are really a fit.
If you don’t desire to mess around gaming the whole process, stay glued to locating a topic that highlights what allows you to tick, and trust that will help best land where you belong.
I like that approach the best, frankly, irrespective of what university you want to attend.
THESE PAGES has my most readily useful posts to understand exactly how you can find your own unique topic and ace your essay, risk or no risk.
I am offering three, two-part essay workshops this summer in my own hometown of Laguna Beach on how to write awesome college application essays.
The workshops, that will be 90 mins 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 anything from understanding what makes an effective essay to just how 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 universities and colleges.
Students will also learn easy methods to answer the most frequent 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 determine and share their real-life experiences to spin into essays that reveal who they have been, how they learn and what they value.
My goal with your essay workshops is to help students find topics and understand how to craft narrative style essays to offer 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 is going to be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $150 per weekend training. These workshops are intended for collegebound kids.
Registration for my essay workshops through the City of Laguna Beach starts May 1. To learn more and/or sign up, visit here: www.lagunabeachcity.net. Click on the Recreation Department to find my workshops.