Never has so much been written about roughly one page of single-spaced sentences. Never has such a relatively short writing assignment -- maybe 250 words or so for some questions on a supplemental app to 500 for the Common App essay -- inspired so much fear and dread. In the entire college application process, there's little else that brings out the worst in parent and child.
It's late September, and the hope of having a solid first draft, or even a completed essay, remains on the to-do list of many seniors.
But don't be too censorious. Do you think you could easily write something that enables a college to know who you are -- and also what you will bring to the college? Something that's authentic, truthful, helps the applicant stand out (in a good way) and could conceivably tip the scale in getting you into dream college? The thought makes me feel queasy.
So how can we encourage our kids to get going, or get polishing, or get the essay to a respected reviewer (an English teacher, maybe, or a family friend who gets what the essay is about.)
First, they've got to get stuff on paper. Here's a useful and funny essay on first drafts by writer Anne Lamott. Take a look at it if only to read the title.
And they need to think like a storyteller, as Hollywood producer Peter Guber suggests. I think his points are valid for essay writers, even if he wasn't thinking of high school seniors when he wrote this.
Finally, here are comments from an admissions officer at a major university. I featured her thoughts two years ago, but the information is timeless - and worth repeating.
Good luck and godspeed, kiddos and their parents!