Outstanding College Essays

Outstanding College Essays-14
The glow from the laptop reflects off his forehead as he stares at the screen, paralyzed by panicked perfectionism.

The glow from the laptop reflects off his forehead as he stares at the screen, paralyzed by panicked perfectionism.

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Not one to cede to this obsession with purism, my response is always, “you are never done.” It’s the truth, however, as we continue every day to write our story and find our voice.

In closing, Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment at The University of Denver provides perspective, summarizing the intent of the college essay: Students should know that while essays are important, they are rarely the reason a student gets admitted or denied.

Perfection—in college admission and in life—is often overvalued. What will distinguish your writing and your application is your unique voice.

Be willing to take risks, be vulnerable and share your truth.

Erik De Angelis, associate director of admission at Brown University advises, "don't fall into the trap of telling us why you're a great fit for our school by telling us all about our school. Tell us how you'd take advantage of the resources and experiences available at our school.

Don't spend precious word space impressing us with your knowledge of the school, rather present your argument for how you envision yourself participating in academic and social life at the school."                                                         The moral to the college essay is that there need not be a moral.

It is a test to see if you can get out of your head and open your heart.

It is an exercise in exploring self—what makes you who you are, not who everyone thinks you should be.

Beware, you can write and rewrite your college essay to death with multiple editors providing feedback as you try to get it just right, but as musician Mike Morris says, “too good is no good.” Seasoned admission deans can quickly detect the unauthentic essay that has been scrubbed over, soon devoid of any personal voice.

Young novelists, journalists, and published poets are all on similar footing with the typical English student when approaching the admission essay—it is not just about how you write but also how vulnerable you are willing to be.


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