Edit: Aww, shoot! I wrote you all this blog post last night, before I left the house, and then forgot to publish it. Well, here it is, a year late. And now, to hit the road for Vermont. Hope this helps with those last-minute applications, though.
The title and mini-description attached to this post may have, despite my best efforts, given some of you a clue as to what this post will be about. Anybody who read my last post might also know, as I gave away some spoilers.
Brought to you just in time for 2010 (think about it — the writing of this post spanned almost TWO YEARS. I should get a raise for that), it’s Cam’s thoughts on the college essay process!
Three Saturdays ago, I was walking through a far-too-familiar part of campus with my friend Kevin. (Coincidentally, my brother is also named Kevin. Relevant to you? Nope, but you read it anyways. Congratulations, you’re procrastinating. Stop procrastinating and skip ahead to the college-relevant material, you slacker.) (Did the previous run-on aside cause you to forget what I was talking about? Good! Some mental exercise for you and literary laziness for me.) Because this year Kevin, a friend from my high school, is like many of you — e.g. prefrosh material — we were talking about the college essay process.
For many people at my school, and many other people I knew, the college essay process was Not Fun. I can certainly agree with that when looking at the volume of work most high school seniors get themselves into — e.g. the paperwork starts to ascend its usual two dimensions and acquire volume, because, well, there’s a lot of it. Or, the electronic bits storing your apps start to acquire volume, but …. hey, stop questioning my word usage.
The other reason many people found the college essay to be Not Fun, though, and the reason I want to waste your time with here, was that “they hated writing about themselves.”
Kevin and I, walking somewhere on campus, came to perhaps a far-too-hasty conclusion: that’s stupid.
We stopped (conversationally, that is), realized that might be not quite what we meant, and tried to describe what we actually meant.
See, here’s the thing — the revolutionary bit — what those people don’t know is that the college essay should be *fun*. (eww, I sound like a guidance counselor… I promise, I’m still only one year past all y’alls) (Yep, I’m from Massachusetts, and I say that sometimes, mostly for kicks. People get angry at me for it) The college essay is a lot of work, but the work should not be bad; the reason behind that is fairly simple. You get to write about yourself! You’re not being self-centered, you’re not facing a yawning audience; you’re trying to show people the best parts about you! Now, granted, some people with low self-esteem might not like writing about themselves, but here’s the cool bit: they’re not asking you to write about your faults! They want the best of you. The college essay is the time to shamelessly (but truthfully — start lying and you’ll run into trouble, so please please please don’t do it?) put your best foot forward and talk about you, the bits of you that you like most and that define you. That should be fun. If there’s something about you that you wouldn’t enjoy sharing with other people, then perhaps you shouldn’t put it on your college application — think first for a second about why you don’t enjoy it.
It’s more than that, though; it’s not just writing about yourself. It’s writing about your passions, your hobbies, your interests and your real drive; give them the reason you get up in the morning, give them the reason you stay up late, and give them the reason you like being you! Or if there’s something in your life you want to change, give them that! The college essay, at least for most prompts (disclaimer: I haven’t looked at any, this year, including MIT’s >_<), is fairly flexible, because it’s designed to let you shine through, not just an essay.
And are you ready for the best part?
No matter what you write, your audience has to read it!* They get paid to read your college essay! Hah! And don’t think it’s minimum wage — just the other day, I was talking with Matt in the admissions office about which new Ferrari he’s going to buy.** See, these people get money (cash, bills, dough!) to read YOUR essay about YOU.
So why give them anything less?
*I think so. Unless you don’t write it, anyway.
**I’m making this up. However, Matt, if it were true that you can afford a Ferrari and are purchasing one, why haven’t you offered me rides yet?
The college essay is your chance to shine; it’s a lot of work, but it’s where you’re supposed to show people everything you’re proud of, and everything you’ve worked for; if you’ve worked for things you care about, that should be a whole lot of fun. So procrastinators and re-writers alike (or anybody else still writing a college essay this year), go for it! You have till sometime tomorrow (check Matt’s post for the details) to get your essays in. Go make ’em great.
Err, disclaimer: Despite being employed by MIT Admissions, I know very little about the college essay and how it’s evaluated. This is just my take on it. And Kevin’s. Don’t take it as the official word of the admissions office, please; take it as one student’s blogular ramblings. (Also, good luck in March, everybody!)
Have a happy 2010, and stop worrying about college so much — go enjoy the rest of your senior year.
That’s all, folks.