Would you risk college admission on your English essay?
I’m just curious. Why would a student want to work with you on their college essay? I don’t mean this in a negative way, but our high school has students do their essays in Senior English class. Isn’t that enough? I just don’t understand why the application would be that difficult. For those of us who applied to school way back when – when you could have typed your essay on a typewriter instead of a computer – things were different. When I applied to college, there was no SAT prep in my area, application deadlines were February or later, few schools required essays, and most colleges admitted almost everyone who applied. Today things are different. College admission is more competitive. Applications aren’t impossible, but more is riding on those essays, short answers, activity lists, and letters of recommendation. So why would a student work with me rather than just work with an English teacher at school? While English teachers are very knowledgeable about writing essays, they are not necessarily well informed on what colleges are looking for and the types of writing beneficial in the admissions process. I’ve seen good suggestions backfire when the entire senior class works to write college essays en masse. I had one young man come to me and say: Mrs. Dorsey, my English teacher says we need to have to have two instances of dialogue in each of our essays. Dialogue can work well in a college essay if it’s done well, but effective dialogue is difficult to write. Two pieces of dialogue in each essay from every student from that entire school! What used to be unique now is commonplace and all essays begin to sound alike! Why would a student want to work with me? I spend a lot of my time specializing in college admissions, attending professional conferences, and speaking with admissions officers. I know what colleges do and don’t want to see in an essay.
- I get students to tell their unique stories in the most effective way. Colleges don’t want to hear essays that sound like I wrote them. They also don’t want to hear the same formulaic essay from every student at a particular school. They want to hear the unique, educated voice of a teenager.
- I understand that the college essay is a student’s best opportunity to show-off abilities, talents, and strengths. The essay is so much more than the question presented and if students provide a direct and literal answer, they often overlook an essential opportunity.
- I can help a student step back, put the essay in the context of the entire application, and formulate a response that answers the question while promoting key factors that highlight strengths not mentioned elsewhere in the application.
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