This is Your Typical College Admission Essay

This is a sentence that will grasp your attention. Perhaps make you frown slightly, maybe even use the lord’s name in vain, right before quietly apologizing to your surroundings, as you become curious to know more. This is where you wonder whether you’ve seen something like this before and if so, the part you throw my application in the trash. This is the part you realize you would have probably remembered if you did, the part you give into the possibility of something new and read on. It’s the part during which the introduction draws you in while you wonder about my sincerity and the authenticity of the story that will follow.

Here is the paragraph in which I will begin my tale, the passage in which I will reveal my demons to a total stranger and drown him or her in pathos, hoping for some compassion. There have been obstacles in my life, I’ll list: I am under so much stress right now, there was also that one time I was really nervous about that thing, and death, how could we possibly omit to mention death. It will be an emotional story filled with ups and downs and ultimately ending on a positive note, reflecting my inner strength; the way I fiercely dueled with my problems, the same ones others encounter at least once in their lives, yet seem to be able to resist the envy to write an essay about.

Or perhaps it could be the paragraph in which I subtly introduce all my qualities, also known as modest bragging. I could tell you about that time I went to that rural region everyone has so much pity for, and the things I saw through my condescending first world perspective. How sad I was for them (or how uncomfortable I was myself) until I hopped on a plane a week later and never thought about it again, until I had to write some memorable essay that would reflect my generosity and love for the world. Are you convinced yet?

It could also be the paragraph in which I want to show how different I am from others. Who know what I’ll put here, I don’t even know. See how spontaneous I am? Maybe I’ll simply flip through the dictionary and find three random words: cactus, cacanny, cachaca; those are my favorite things now. Can you even comprehend the extent to which my taste differs from the average student’s? Aren’t I just resplendent! Or maybe I can just be controversial, that always works. Give me a second to Google a topic I know nothing about and take the unpopular side. Hitler did us all a favor, let’s attack feminism, also, as of today money isn’t important anymore; who needs currency when you can lie on the sidewalk covered in your own feces? What an honest, opinionated individual you have in front of you, certainly all this should be enough, right?

This is the part in which I am going to insert some deep quotation from a well-known intellectual to associate my own capacities to his, perhaps give some depth to my personality, an impression of endless philosophical pondering. This is the part I tell you I have learned from my mistakes, because obviously no one ever does that, and that I have grown (not in height, unfortunately) as a human being. It’s the part in which I state my findings, also known as the obvious, but that won’t matter because you will be more interested by my “train of thoughts”.

This is the part you decide my entire worth based on the few letters scribbled on my transcript and the thin sheet of paper you are currently eying. This is the part you decide whether I am smart/unique/interesting enough for your school. This is the part you try to figure out whether I am being bold or simply reckless, whether I have no vocabulary whatsoever or if all this actually has a purpose. This is the part you realize you know nothing about me and that perhaps a person is more than a few words placed in an eloquent order to form a story. But I’m going to stop talking and let you decide. Because this is the part you, a complete stranger, get to decide where I will be for the next four years of my life.

This article was written by Elaine Zheng, a writer for dusk magazine. 

1 Comment on This is Your Typical College Admission Essay

  1. Natalie Windt // July 12, 2016 at 3:34 am // Reply

    I’ve won a lot of scholarships talking about what a shitty person I have been. It is an interesting technique they find refreshing and also I suppose in this world becoming more the norm. If you look at it as someone just deciding over a piece of paper, leaving it all up to them and not yourself, then how is your destiny ever your own destination? Maybe if it is a place where you are seen as a flat piece of paper, you, as the dynamic person you are, are better off not being accepted 😀 They did you a favor! Hehehe, that’s how I handle rejection, nowadays. Having been a shitty person and dealt with it a lot. Not to say your process is reflecting you as inadequate, just we get exactly what we need.


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