I heard from my students that last week the workload at school was atrocious. Not much college essay writing happened. I was lucky enough to work with a few students who pushed out first drafts of supplements that addressed questions related to origin, career path, issues of importance, something a roommate might want to know about you, and oh, the one about showing your intellectual vitality in 250 words or less. Sounds very serious, huh? But as a graduate professor once lovingly told me when she’d seen through all the effort in my writing to the subtle truth that I was trying to convey, “Sometimes, Naomi, things can be simple.” How right she was. Kinder then the acronym Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.), and equally as true. It is much more work to conceal who we really are by trying to sound impressive than to show, from experience, who we really are. And it’s definitely more fun to read than an essay that tries to hard.
Seniors, don’t despair. With the smell of gravy and crisp turkey skin wafting into the halls of your home or apartment, the inclination may be to sleep as many hours as possible, play as much touch football on neighbors yards as weary parts will allow, watch as many movies as tired eyes can tolerate, or maybe just chill out with family– all honorable choices, and certainly well earned.
However, in addition to all of those things, consider taking a few moments to nestle into a couch, or find a sunny spot on a bench or lawn chair, and try to recall actual experiences and scenes from your life that relate to the questions being asked. Make a list. Describe one or two in vivid detail as you would a scene from a movie, or a news segment recently reported. To quote the ‘80s rock band Yes and their often parodied hit song Owner of a Lonely Heart: “Be yourself, give your free will a chance, you’ve got to work to succeed.”
So get to work this weekend, but don’t try too hard. Simplicity, honesty, detail, and levity will get you high marks from admissions readers who really only want to get to know what kind of kid might become part of their community. They also don’t want to be bored to death – so make it personal.
Must you eat a bag of pirate booty before bed every night? Is your favorite article of clothing the pastel sweater your grandma crocheted for you in kindergarten for picture day? Do you know a game that most people don’t know how to play? Is your favorite part of the day breakfast or going to the work, or something more obscure? Do you carry a lucky charm around with you? Did you have a moment with a relative that you hope to remember for the rest of your life? Let those details reveal something only you can tell, and you’ll be fine, and then you’ll be done.
Don’t run from your notebooks or dive into the apple pie or biscuits. Instead, take a deep breath and, to recall the Lonely Heart final verse, “just receive it.”
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