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This is no less true of college essays, but it doesn’t make writing them any easier.
Thoughtful applicants focus on how particular schools fit with their social and intellectual aspirations, and good essays mirror such self-awareness.
Elisha Anderson, an Associate Director of Admission at Brown, notes that when he used to work in the admission office of a smaller, nonconformist liberal arts college in Massachusetts, he saw so many essays on protests, filmmaking and the Food not Bombs movement, that, “It wasn’t until I started working at Brown—where I almost never read essays on any of these topics—that I realized how different the self-selection of the two applicant pools must have been.”Unlike the Common Application essay, however, the school-specific supplements do require that students write more targeted essays.
To help them identify those elements, Princeton asks students to reflect on their own lives by writing, for example, in response to quotes on culture, service to the nation, and the practices of inequality.
Yale, in contrast, asks simply that a student “Reflect on something you want us to know about you.” Associate Director Rebekah Westphal of Yale explains that the question is, “open enough that students write about whatever they feel like at the time, to present themselves to us without trying to fit into a certain topic or question.”In a good essay the student embarks on a voyage to learn more about an idea, a place, or about herself, and she returns able to examine and understand what has been familiar with new eyes and a deeper perspective.
Students applying to Ivy League schools find themselves having to wade through a particularly dense morass of conflicting advice.
With Harvard and Princeton denying far more valedictorians than they accept, many students are coming to the the disquieting realization that overwhelming academic achievement and stratospheric scores may be not enough.
Colleges take what they get.”Admission officers at Ivy schools would agree that in telling their truth, students choose topics that more often reflect the reality of their own lives than they do the ethos of specific colleges: Students’ desire to write an Ivy-inspired essay is also complicated by the nature of the Ivy League itself.
While the league shares a long tradition of academic excellence, exclusivity, and a set of admissions protocols that relate mostly to athletics (such as an Academic index that all Ivy athletes have to meet), the eight Ivies remain very distinctive institutions.
USC uses the Common App, which means you can access all essay questions on the Common App portal.
This guide will help you craft well-written responses for USC’s supplemental essays.