Here’s the secret. . .
What would impress the college admission officers?
What do they want to see in an essay?
In a quest for admission at elite colleges, students writing college application essays often ask such questions. They hope to present themselves as the student they imagine those colleges want. In the process, they lose what the colleges truly seek: authenticity.
Recognizing exaggeration, fabrication, and other attempts to impress with false writing is easier than you might think, but that’s only one of the problems. An even bigger problem is that such essays portray the authors as unreal, unattractive plastic images. Surprised?
It’s similar to photographs. Most students prepare extensively for a formal high school dance–the clothes and shoes, a corsage and boutonniere, the car or limo, usually the hair and nails. But after all of that effort and expense, the formal picture of the handsomely-dressed couple posing at the dance almost never looks great. Instead, it looks unnatural, a plastic, unattractive image. In contrast, the casual snapshot taken when they were hanging out with friends, not even aware they were being photographed, typically looks far more attractive; it’s real, genuine, and authentic.
Advice to students: Be yourself when writing your essays. Write in our own voice, be honest, and hold yourself to the highest level of integrity. That’s the kind of writing that truly impresses.