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How will this approach work?

sp_sspusp_sspu Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
edited May 2008 in College Essays
Consider the big essay required for the common application; I have an idea on what to write about which seems promising. But at the same time, I can see disadvantages.
I don't want to go too specific about the idea (especially because, I haven't completely thought it out), but I'll try to describe it and what I see positively and negatively. If you guys could give me feedback, that would be great!

By the way, for context, I am planning to apply next year to Stanford and UCs. I have a few others in mind, but Stanford is my primary goal.

I wasn't very involved in school "spirit" activities the first two years of high school because I considered them a waste of time. But I got involved with a school wide tradition last year, and I really loved it. I think it really made me appreciate my high school experience more. I'm more spirited about the school I go to and the people I'm surrounded by daily. I'm not going to claim I have completely reformed to become the new cheerleader, but my new mentality has affected the other things I do.

Adv: I think this would be a unique essay (at least I hope) and I can really show (not tell) the reader how I changed, because it's a specific experience, in a conversational manner (not the rigid 5 paragraph essay). It will be personal, and hopefully reflect the type of enthusiasm and pride I will bring into college. Plus, it may convey I'm more of a well-rounded person than my application suggests, and so the admission officer's impression would be more accurate in my opinion.

Disadv: What worries me, is that this essay would not indicate something I'm passionate about, as many say an application essay should convey. This would be, writing about a one time, isolated event that just happened to change me personally, but may not be apparent just by looking at my application otherwise. I am nervous such a topic would detract from giving a more in-depth picture of an activity that's important to me, which I've may have listed in the previous form. It would introduce a new detail about me that wouldn't particularly show my intellectual vitality (which is really important), and would fit a bit incongruously with the rest of the application (being more personal). It basically wouldn't give the admissions officer a chance to see what makes me tick.

Getting involved with that school tradition was definitely important to me, but it didn't culminate into a passion of mine. I think both ways of looking at it are legitimate, but what do you guys think?

Thank you in advance for your opinions.
Post edited by sp_sspu on

Replies to: How will this approach work?

  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,921 Senior Member
    You are not obligated to write about an activity or passion.

    However, you are wise imo to aim for an essay that is as personal, detailed, honest and revealing as possible.

    How does your idea rate according to that standard (compared to other possible topics)?

    For good advice about essays, see

    U.Va. Office of Admission Essays
  • hpg90hpg90 Registered User Posts: 374 Member
    Just write something that is interesting to read, and write it well.
  • TaggartTaggart Registered User Posts: 1,486 Senior Member
    It really depends on how you word things and how the essay flows. I think any topic can make a great essay; it's just depends on how you approach it.
  • lethargytmlethargytm Registered User Posts: 1,068 Member
    Make the essay give literary orgasms. and like my girlfriend says "multiples are the best." Make it flow well and make it personal. Essays should convey information about you as a person while showing off your skills.
  • lethargytmlethargytm Registered User Posts: 1,068 Member
    BTW adad, I read that a couple of years ago and ever since my essays were awesome.
    Also read like the New Yorker or any witted and literary opinion/articles. You can learn so much from other people's writings.
  • sp_sspusp_sspu Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Thank you all for your suggestions!
    You have all made it clear it's best to write detailed about something (/anything) that reveals who you are as a person.

    But, I must ask, how are essays then evaluated? Say, the applicant pool has been narrowed by numbers (SAT, GPA, etc.) to the people who are qualified for the university.
    Then, say, the pool is further narrowed by other criteria (including the essay), to students who have personal, revealing essays that give the reader a glimpse into the his/her life.
    But now, how would an admissions officer then select among these students for admission? Subjectively, based on how the officer likes the personality portrayed in the essay?

    I don't know if my above question sounds convoluted or not, but I'm basically asking, if there are two very numerically similar applicants with different, but personal and revealing essays, how is the decision going to be made?

    This is just something I'm curious about. I won't be able to do anything about the way the evaluation process works, but I kind of want to know how it does. As far as advice for what I can do (ie. make my essay personal and detailed) thanks for the advise. I'm sure it will be useful!
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