Second Person In College Essay

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Even our ED early birds seem to know how to procrastinate. It's time to be a little self-centered: Despite the often bad rap, I find seniors in high school have a hard time being self-centered when it comes to writing their college essays.

That’s fine in academic work when you’re being asked to argue in support of a position, but in a personal essay, you want to express more nuanced thinking and explore your own clashing emotions. One of my favorites from when I worked in admissions at Duke University started out, “My car and I are a lot alike.” The writer then described a car that smelled like wet dog and went from 0 to 60 in, well, it never quite got to 60.

Another guy wrote about making kimchi with his mom.

So as our November 1 ED deadline approaches, I thought I'd write to you, future applicants everywhere, and give you four easy tips for a great college essay. Often your instinct is to write about something else - an experience, another person, a favorite activity - rather than your personality, passions, or quirks.

This makes sense; your writing experience up until this point has consisted of essays on books you've read or concepts you've learned. Fight the urge to focus on your athletic practice schedule, the grandparent you admire, or the community service experience from last summer.


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