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What We Learned From Writing College Admissions Papers

What We Learned From Writing College Admissions Papers

By Janet Manley

For those of you tackling your college applications, we've rounded up some of our fav sploggers to find out what they wrote about for their college essays, and how they fared!

Danielle Kraese

I conducted a massive search for my essay, because I couldn’t remember what I wrote about. I did manage to find it, and it was so old that it was actually carved into a slab of stone. Just kidding. But it WAS incompatible with modern technology, so I had to view a modified version that_was_entire
ly_formatted_like_this_,_which_made_it_
a_bit-of_a_
challen
ge_to­_read.

I wrote about encountering dead ends in life and how they’re never a waste of time, even if it feels that way. As an example, I detailed all the sweaty hours I spent playing soccer only to realize I would never be Hope Solo. It was some deep stuff, yo.

Surprisingly, my teenaged philosophy still applies, only now, my dead ends include things like curdled relationships, a short-lived career as a meme maker, and that time I tried to make flourless, sugarless, dairyless cookies. The greater point of my essay was that even when life leads you to a dead end, you still gain something valuable in the process. This might have been a poignant piece of prose if it weren’t for the fact that it was written in both past and present tenses and I thought I was Carrie Bradshaw. (This was shortly after I began obsessively watching Sex And The City re-runs and for those who know the show, I actually started a sentence with “I couldn’t help but wonder…”).

Moral of the story: Even if you confuse your tenses and your own identity in your essay, many of the New York state schools will still be impressed. Also, cookies made without flour, sugar, or dairy are not cookies at all but rather brown lumpy blobs that no one will enjoy.

Josh Sorokach

I remember the general crux of my college essay question centered around an achievement and the impact said achievement had on my life. About four months ago I deleted most of my old college term papers from my computer. Why would I possibly ever need to re-read these papers, I thought. This is not the first, nor probably the last time Present Josh has been foiled by Past Josh's lack of foresight. I wrote my essays around the fact that I hosted my high school talent show. I vividly recall somehow relating my experience as host to provocative performance artist Andy Kaufman and relating that to somehow changing the world of comedy—presumably through a communications degree at Penn State University. Naive and grandiose? Sure. But naive and grandiose are better than unimaginative and pedantic. "I hope to apply the lessons learned at your university to obtain a job in business. I will use that job in business to buy a reasonably priced automobile. I enjoy an occasional sip of cherry coke and sunset jigsaw puzzle. I am a robot. Beep Bop. Boop." I ended up going two for three in acceptance letters (that's a fine looking high horse you got there, HARVARD). My advice is to be original, be as specific as possible about your goals, and clearly state how this specific university will help you to achieve them. Also, make sure to proofread. Proufreading is the sign of a true professional!

RG Daniels

I was born and raised in the city, so when I applied to a school in the sticks I knew I had an angle to work with and write about. My essay was mostly composed of my willingness to adapt to a new situation. I made it very clear I wanted a new challenge in my life that I could not only overcome, but that I could learn from. I was important to me to stress how eager I was to see a life outside of the one I had been living my whole life. My intention was to work hard to not only make others proud, but to make myself proud.

A month or so later I received a phone call from someone in admissions. They complimented me on my essay (and politely acknowledged my big city accent!). I visited the school shortly after and attended the following fall.

Jason Saenz

I wrote it about my grand father who was fought in the pacific during WW2. His greatest story is that he didn't know the Japanese had surrendered until one week later. I guess he was just enjoying some down time on the aircraft carrier. It ended up doing me well, as I got into all the colleges my SAT scores could allow.

What topics have you taken on in your college applications?

Topics: School, Life, Advice
Tags: college applications, sploggers, college essays, what we learned, the art of the essay

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About the Author
Janet Manley

Janet's desk was moved into the hall for the duration of coursework on Roman numerals in grade four, and she cannot tell one Rocky from another to this day. Her spirit animal is a wombat, and she has not written a novel. Dauntless, Gryffindor, Mockingjay. She tweets @janetmanley

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.