Should EVERY college essay be about Coronavirus?
If you asked me to name the most stressful part of the college application process, I’m making it a true daily double and going with “What is the essay?” every time.
First, there’s the inertia factor. I cannot confirm or deny what goes on in your home, but many parents (i.e. “Moms”) tell me that they scream, holler and threaten their kids to get this done all summer, raising their blood pressure and their gray hair count (at least until the beauty salons reopen).
Then, there’s the whole thing about WHAT to write. Many kids think of themselves as “bad writers,” which is actually a strength in my book, most of the time. It’s the ones who are too full of their self-annointed writing “talent” who are in greater peril of writing a cr-ppy essay.
Here’s a pro tip for those of you who think you’re a bad writer, if you want to crank out a great draft in less than 30 minutes.
Step 1: outline the essay
Step 2: record yourself speaking through the essay
Step 3: transcribe the recording (free on google, or use my favorite service that helps me write books and my monthly client newsletter, rev.com)
Step 4: Edit
Boom! Done and done.
This essay will read like it’s a conversation, which the best ones feel like, because it actually IS a conversation, cleaned up of course. No LOLs, IDKs or LMFAOs.
Finally, the biggie: WHAT to write about.
To answer that, you must contemplate the PURPOSE of your essay.
Sure, it’s about highlighting your strengths in a non-braggy, non-douchey way.
It could also be about explaining a weakness, or overcoming a challenge.
But whatever you write about, it has to be one thing above all else:
Not the same-old, same-old.
Which brings moi to full circle to the question posed above: should you write about Coronavirus?
Tricky answer, mon ami.
On one hand, if you’ve covering the same topic as, oh, a chunk of the 3.7 Million high school class of 2021 will cover, that’s a one way ticket to Dullsville.
But on the other, if you write something personal, and detailed about your time in quarantine, that cannot devolve into a cliche for the simple reason that your experience is UNIQUE.
And, as one of our staff of former college advisors says, it’s OK to “go small.” To talk about the little things.
I’m going to grill Chris, another of our former college advisors on staff, next Wednesday, May 13 as part of our kick off meeting for clients and registrants of our 5th annual “Incomparable Applicant” essay and application boot camps.
I already warned him that my first question will be just that, “Should I write about Coronavirus?”
I’m also going to grill him like a porterhouse on EACH of the Common Application essay prompts, as well as the most common (pun intended) (“Damn, this guy’s GOOD!”) supplemental essay topics, to hear what he’d want to read as an admissions officer from a college that admits less than 6% of its applicants.
This session alone is worth the price of admission, but of course, there’s a lot more to the boot camp. Here’s the scoop:
- “Insider Kick Off Session”: Admission to the aforementioned bonus, live, client-only, prompt-by-prompt dissection by a former college admissions officer at an “Ivy Plus” college and yours truly of the Common App essay and common supplemental essay topics, May 13. We’re starting early this year, to get kids drafting. Big time-saver and confusion-saver! (Recorded if you can’t make it.)
- Live Instruction, Brainstorming, Editing. Attendance at one of four scheduled sessions (assume virtual), listed on the page below. Each student has personal 1:1 interaction, editing, brainstorming, with us. (Additional sessions 50% off.)
- You Can Run But You Can’t Hide. Post Boot Camp accountability call and complementary review of essays and applications produced at in the live session. We’re running a $200 “Scholarship” incentive promo, valid for for four more days.
Use the coupon code 2020BOOTCAMP on this page (make sure you see the price change before checking out):
(If you’re a private 1:1 college advisory client, everything above is free and you’ve been notified separately 🙂
-Andy “Let’s Get Small!” Lockwood
P.S. If you want more help, i.e 1:1 advising, email us ASAP, capacity limited.