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Supplement "one woman in history or fiction"

amrita464amrita464 Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
edited November 2010 in Barnard College
Hey, so I'm trying to do my supplement for Barnard (I'm doing RD) and I'm not sure on the technicalities of this question.
Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about?
My question is the part about history or fiction - what constitutes as history and how stringently do they enforce it? I have a really good answer to this question for J.K. Rowling (don't roll your eyes, it's important to me! haha), who is, obviously, a contemporary author. She's still alive and I wouldn't count her as a historical figure at all.
So I wouldn't be able to write about her, would I?
Post edited by amrita464 on

Replies to: Supplement "one woman in history or fiction"

  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,614 Senior Member
    As a former Barnard parent, I really can't answer your question -- the supplement questions are new this year -- but I feel in general that it's ok to bend the "rules" a little on a question if there is a very strong reason for your answer. That is, in college apps, if you have a really great answer, it usually works out o.k. to plug it in somewhere, even if it doesn't exactly fit the question. And of course "history" is ambiguous -- "history" is being made right now, I think it's pretty certain that 100 years from now, readers will be as familiar with the name "J.K. Rowling" as they are today with L. Frank Baum or C.S. Lewis. I mean, there are some aspects of Harry Potter that will probably seem quite dated over time, but I think J.K. Rowling has already accomplished the things that will earn her a spot on list of "historic women authors" down the years.

    But I also think that it's a choice that could result in a very prosaic answer. You say your answer is "really good" --- is it quirky or surprising or unexpected in some way? I mean, when you meet JK Rowling for tea at The Elephant House -- are you planning to say or ask something different than has been said in the umpteen thousand published interviews with the author?

    Because you need to keep in mind that what Barnard really wants to know is something about you, not something about whatever person you choose to write about. So you need to ask yourself what the reader will have learned about you after reading your answer... and how that will help your application come to life for them.
  • ethereality4ethereality4 Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    When I went to a Barnard tour during the summer, I asked one of the admissions officers that exact question and she said the woman can be alive because "we're making history right now"
  • katiedwarrenkatiedwarren Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Also, I'd just like to point out that it says history OR fiction, not both! :) So you should definitely be fine.
  • smartundecidedsmartundecided Registered User Posts: 113 Junior Member
    I actually emailed the person in charge of reviewing my application. Yes! You can email admissions! Crazy, huh? And, since it's Barnard, she/he will probably email back very soon after you email them (I've noticed Barnard is very good at this communications business!). I emailed about that question in particular, and my application head said that she considers modern history as part of the question (aka: The person can be alive!!!). That's just mine, though. Your application person might not think J.K. Rowling isn't history! Always safe to check, though. :)
  • amrita464amrita464 Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Thanks everyone!
    @ calmom - I think it is a pretty unique conversation that I would be able to have with her. Thank you so much for your detailed response!
    @ethereality4 - That is amazing. Thanks!!
    @katiedwarren - J.K. Rowling, though a fiction author, is not a fictional character :) so she would have to fall under the historical category. Thanks, though!
    @smartundecided - I might just do that! That's great, thanks.
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    I can't imagine why it would be a problem.

    Can you tell us your unique answer? I am dying to know.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,614 Senior Member
    I'm thinking that it's wiser overall if college applicants don't post their unique ideas for essay prompts online, at least not until admissions season is over. ;) (But perhaps the poster might be willing to share her essay with you in a pm -- she might appreciate the wise feedback of a parent/English prof /writer like you).
  • amrita464amrita464 Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Certainly, I'll PM you, mythmom. It's not THAT special though - I wouldn't consider it worth dying for! :) But it is important to me.
This discussion has been closed.