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These exhausted folks, hopped up from eating too many cookies and brownies, have been sitting in committee meetings for days after spending a couple of months reading applications, most of which look pretty similar: baseball = life, or debate = life, or “I went to a developing country and discovered poor people can be happy.”They wade through long lists of candidates, state by state, region by region. But occasionally one will make an admissions officer tear down the hallway to find a colleague to whom she can say, “You have to read what this Math Olympiad girl said about ‘Hamlet.’ ” Your goal is to write an essay that makes someone fall in love with you.The best applications and the weakest don’t come to committee. Once you commit the time and emotional energy to get your butt in the chair to write, you face a daunting task — figuring out what to write about. With so much freedom, this is a challenge for most students.
Another guy wrote about making kimchi with his mom.
They would go into the garage and talk, really talk: “Once my mom said to me in a thick Korean accent, ‘Every time you have sex, I want you to make sure and use a condo.’ I instantly burst into laughter and said, ‘Mom, that could get kind of expensive! And remember those exhausted admissions officers sitting around a table in the winter.
’ ” A girl wrote about her feminist mother’s decision to get breast implants. Jolt them out of their sugar coma and give them something to be excited about.
So to well-intended adults: in those extra spaces, you are leaving incriminating fingerprints on your student’s show of authenticity.
And in trying to make the essay polished enough to prove to an admissions officer that your student is ready for the responsibilities of college, you are showing that you are not so sure.