The College Essay

The College Essay-47
The University of Chicago, for example, boasts that it “has long been renowned for our provocative essay questions,” which have included “Coin your own word using parts from any language you choose,” and “What do you think of Wednesday?”The most honest answers to the latter question would be short and uninspiring: “Not much,” or “Only when I have to.” After that, good many applicants would probably think first of a variation on “hump day,” perhaps alluding to a familiar insurance commercial featuring a talking camel.Even in such a badly broken system, however, there is one component that does not need to be fixed. I am talking about the dread personal essay, which is too easy to falsify, and mostly worthless even when it hasn’t been faked.

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Instead of reinforcing a top activity or interest, instead, write about something that reveals another dimension of your life or personality.

If your top activity is swimming, don’t write about the big championship meet.

The options in 2018-19 allowed applicants to describe their accomplishments, the obstacles they’d encountered in life, or the problems they would like to solve.

These questions are little more than invitations for stock answers delivered in stock formats (and more so under the guidance of a coach).

about 50 percent were entirely rewritten.”In other words, the essay section of the application virtually invites all sorts of covert assistance, and sometimes outright cheating.

High school grades and test scores can be boosted by expensive tutors, but they ultimately reflect the students’ own effort.

Even a prize-winning novelist would be hard pressed to convey just one of those qualities in a 500 word character sketch, and the chances of getting an accurate picture from a 17-year-old novice are essentially nil.

The essay prompts on the Common App (used by over 750 schools) are predictable and mundane.

Sure, some youngsters might come up with such stuff by themselves, but it will be impossible to separate them from the ones who brainstormed with a pro.

And even when independently written, what do the essays really show?


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