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Unusual Interest / EC

PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
edited June 2008 in Parents Forum
Dd likes to do (and has taught herself) calligraphy. She's not otherwise artistically inclined in any way; she hasn't started a small business and isn't interested in doing so (I suppose we could get grandma to "buy" some of her work and declare it a business, but that hardly seems the point); she's not invented her Very Own Font; she hasn't addressed envelopes for orphans in Bangladesh or the Queen of England. It's just something that makes her interesting.

How would one talk about this on a college app?
Post edited by Pizzagirl on

Replies to: Unusual Interest / EC

  • bessiebessie Registered User Posts: 1,818 Senior Member
    Well, something about that activity attracts her to it. Is it the contemplative nature of the art of calligraphy? Perhaps the visual or mechanical component? Is it meditative? Does doing calligraphy take her away from her more academic worries? I remember asking my kids if they wanted music lessons for a certain instrument. Both said they wanted to enjoy the activity for the sheer joy of it and that lessons or anything else that had a deadline or was a "resume" type of activity would make it seem like a job. Maybe this is just a creative, artistic outlet for your daughter to enjoy and she can talk about it without having been productive or super accomplished in any way. My son talked about his writing and why it was important to him and he hadn't published the great American novel or anything. All essay topics are just a door one goes through to show the reader of picture of who they are as a person.
  • fireflyscoutfireflyscout Registered User Posts: 5,457 Senior Member
    Considering most students today have terrible handwriting, I think it's interesting that she has taken up calligraphy. This could make a great essay topic, and, if she is using the Common App, she should consider writing her essay in calligraphy to send in addition to the online submission.
  • paying3tuitionspaying3tuitions Registered User Posts: 13,330 Senior Member
    In addition to what affect it has on her feelings and mood (bessie's idea) I wondered: What was her process to teach herself a new skill:

    Did she see something in a book or receive an invitation -- what sparked the interest? How did she figure out how to teach herself something that isn't readily available in the courses and community where she resides? How did she gather up the tools and information? The tools themselves are interesting. How has she seen her hand improve and where might she go next with it? What are her next goals: more letters, more fluency, less ink on her hands? Does she feel the same or different compared to when she types fluently on a computer?
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Thanks - great questions and exploration!
  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,921 Senior Member
    How would one talk about this on a college app?

    In a manner that allows her essay to be personal, detailed, honest and revealing.

    The essay should be focused on her, not on calligraphy. Anything said about calligraphy should ultimately reveal something about her.

    And, of course, show, don't tell:

    Show, don't tell
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Your daughters interest made me think of this
    Text of Steve Jobs' Commencement address (2005)
    Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

    None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
  • FresnoMomFresnoMom Registered User Posts: 1,044 Senior Member
    ADad said it beautifully!
  • epiphanyepiphany Registered User Posts: 8,574 Senior Member
    And i.m.o., Steve Jobs said it just as beautifully. :) No, seriously, ADad makes a good point, and the calligraphy should reflect & reveal the writer-applicant, not vice-versa.

    My own passion for calligraphy developed toward the end of college and just after. (I later become skilled in both English & Hebrew calligraphy & did both professionally.) I was actually taught by one of the masters in the field who later went on to become famous in graphics. It is extremely time-consuming to excel in it, as it demands a level of perfection that most people are impatient with. So, kudos to OP's D for making time in her undoubtedly over-busy h.s. schedule. (My own schedule at that time would have been too insane to allow for this careful & contemplative activity.) And yes, passions are associated with it, develop from it. In mine, it was an interest in learning another language as well (not just its alphabet), plus eventually its culture & religion. In others -- such as Jobs and my master teacher -- it could be graphics, typefaces, & design. Those who become accomplished at Spencerian script might develop a passion for that period of history on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The discussion of it in the application, then, should focus on what in calligraphy drew the applicant to it, which could be many things -- on why it continues to fascinate & provide satisfaction. It would certainly not hurt to culminate the 'discussion' with a calligraphic flourish.;)
  • pafatherpafather Registered User Posts: 329 Member
    A few years ago, after I interviewed an applicant for MIT, I received a thank you card from the interviewee. It was hand written calligraphy, and I was very impressed by the letter and the envelope. As a matter of fact, I showed it to my kids (who were around 12 to 20 at the time) as an example of the lost art of excellent handwriting, because it looked as if it had been written by John Hancock or Thomas Jefferson. I was all the more impressed because this student (an Asian male) had only been in the US a few years, and I mentioned the thank you letter in the student's evaluation to MIT. I had already been very favorably impressed by this student in the interview (he had mentioned during the interview that he enjoyed doing calligraphy, as well as some type of Asian drawing, in his spare time). Unfortunately, this student was not accepted at MIT, but competition among international students is very high. Nevertheless, I still have the letter because I think it is "cool." They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Some people might think sending such a letter is a bit over the top, but I really liked it.
  • epiphanyepiphany Registered User Posts: 8,574 Senior Member
    Wonderful story, pafather. (And I'm impressed with the student, too.)
  • mammallmammall - Posts: 1,701 Senior Member
    I'd get into the history of caligraphy, how it evolved, how the shaping of the words express something in their own right along with the sheer etymology of the words. I'd also delve into the painstaking craftsmanship of the process as opposed to what we do today with our desktop publishing, avery labels, adobe, etc. I'd write about the brilliant writers of the past who set down their precious words in long hand, slowly and with no easy recourse to delete and cut & paste.

    Mostly, though, your daughter needs to figure out why she is drawn to caligraphy. My sense is that she has a yearning to pause a bit, reflect, consider her words carefully before consigning them to print. Perhaps she is a bit text weary with all that comes at us through blogs and discussion boards and email and im's and text messages.

    Oh, this could be a yummy essay, indeed. I predict a winner with this one.
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