Finding the Diamond in the Mud: The College Essay – Part 1

OK.  It’s go- Finding the Diamond in the Mud:  The College Essay   Part 1time.  Let’s talk about college application essays.

In so many ways, the college application essays are the most dreaded part of the application, feared by students almost as much as the SATs.

This is easy to understand.  The purpose of the essay is not always clear to teenagers, who most often don’t know that the application is designed to tell the story of the applicant.  The essay is the only place in the whole document that includes input from teachers, guidance counselors, interviewers, and standardized testing companies, where the student speaks for themselves.

If you could only read fifty applications you would understand what I’m about to tell you because reading an essay is a highly subjective experience. When you read an essay, you pick up lots of subtle information about the writer and form an impression based on that. The key is make sure the information communicated is authentic and accurate and does not create a misunderstanding.

Everyone will approach the essay differently.  It all starts with real self-reflection.  Here is where parents are most helpful because they know the student better than anyone and can see their essence.

Parents, you will never turn your student into someone they aren’t, so give that urge up now.

Really, it’s a relief to give up the fantasies and get real.  Help them see who they uniquely are, what they have to offer themselves and the world around them.   Look for the archetype first.  For example, some kids are born explorers.  Some are born healers, or artists, or communicators, or engineers, or leaders, or the ‘glue’ people who hold it all together for others.  Some are highly ambitious and relentless.  Some are more chill, taking life as it comes. No one ‘type’ is better than another.   Everyone is different on purpose and everyone has a place in this crazy, roiling experience called life.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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