Tuesday, October 14, 2008

College Essay Guidelines

Jay De Feo 1958, one of my favorite painters, standing in front of her painting The Rose--a really amazing piece that you have to stand in front of to appreciate the intensity of it.

The prompts provided are often a starting point—it’s not really about which prompt you choose to answer, but HOW you use the topic to write an essay.

Remember Borges, “people tend to prefer the personal to the general, the concrete to the abstract”. You will notice that the questions are vague, repetitive, and general. You could almost adapt any good essay to fit a prompt.
Anyway, here are the common application prompts*

  • Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  • Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
  • Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and describe that influence.
  • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  • A prompt of your choice is another option.

I’m going to break into my I’m older than you persona now: “when I applied to college I actually had to write a separate essay for each school because each school had a question—oh, and life was (of course) harder back then—we suffered like you kids nowadays have no idea of….”(Kidding of course).

Also, we will be doing some creative writing and modeling in the next couple of weeks--many students often end up using these "experiments" as their "personal essays

* https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/default.aspx

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