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College Talk Blog

Worst Essay Ever

Teens often tell me proudly that they did a homework assignment in an English class that involved writing a college admission essay. In their view, they have the college admission essay (at least for The Common App) handled. They are disappointed when I tell them that getting into their favorite college will mean starting over or at least a serious re-write.

I have never read an essay written as a class assignment that was ready for the review of an admission officer. In fact most would qualify for Worst Essay Ever in the college admissions world.

Although the class assignment college admission essays were evaluated as outstanding by secondary teachers, they fall far short of the goal of a college admission essay. Most are narratives that do not even hint at the personality of the student. Few are creative or clever. Most are boring and don't come close to the level of work that reflects what the student can do.

The best teenage essay writer I have met did not write his essay for a class assignment. He carefully wrote a draft and took the time to have other students read his work and offer their opinions. He revised and edited for months. The outcome was impressive with a hook sentence that drew the reader in. The intent of the essay and supporting ideas were clear. The conclusion was creative and thoughtful. That essay did its job. He had wonderful college admission outcomes.

Students who want their essays to do what they intend must analyze who they are, where they have been and what they want to do. After that, ideas will surface that reflect their essence and background. Once a good draft is complete, the student needs to begin the process of reviewing and re-writing that will result in the Best Essay Ever.

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