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It's that time of year when the New York Times shares the most remarkable college essays from this year's graduating seniors."Quilts, Cows, Money and Meaning: College Essays That Stood Out" was published last week only days after most high school seniors made their final decision about where they will attend college.
I immediately labeled her the "tax girl." There is no question I will remember that young woman for years to come.
The topic of a student's essay has the potential to have a transformative effect in allowing a complete stranger, like an admissions officer, to connect with a student they have usually never met.
I know firsthand that it takes a very special essay to get admitted to these institutions.
In fact, if the main college essay isn't remarkable, a student simply won't get admitted to an elite college no matter how high their grades and test scores are.
So much of a student's application is the epitome of perfection: grades, advanced classes, high test scores, and an extracurricular activities list to envy. It's possible his college counselor or a teacher might have known the depths of his family's story, but the student chose to reveal something far from perfect about his life.
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Don't get me wrong, the essay shouldn't be overly sad or overly judgmental about the student's lot in life.No admissions officer wants to feel depressed after reading a student's essay just like few of us want to watch a movie that ends on a sad note.It's the student who is able to see the imperfection in their lives (or someone else's) and understand the underlying lessons that help them grow.Imperfection can show up in unlikely places, and it's often cloaked in societal expectations.When the student is able to defy those expectations or even those stereotypes, magic ensues.I want them to pick something that they don't wear on their sleeve, literally or figuratively.I want them to uncover something about themselves this summer and be willing to share it.It's more about the student appreciating the small things in her life which hold much deeper meaning to who she is and how she was raised.I had a range of emotions as I read all five essays in the article.Remember that some admissions officers are reading thousands of essays a year.You want them to remember you for all the right reasons. Another featured essay was by a young man who wrote about the adversity and strength of his family in the US and Kenya.