Admission News

A Modest Proposal: The College Essay

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You really sweat writing the personal essay, don’t you? It’s hard to write because you’re not sure what’s expected, and then it’s just this one piece of writing that could make or break your chance to get into the college of your choice. Everyone has a different opinion about how it should be edited or revised, and, on top of all that—many college applicants can afford to hire a college application coach who will work on essays and give professional, at least, expert advice.

So what are your chances of nailing the college essay? More to the point, how telling is the college essay if some don’t really write their own but have the help of family, friends, high school English teachers, even professional essay writers!

We at College Basics have a proposal that will make the college essay evaluation more fair. We do believe the essay is a way to demonstrate ability. Writing lets a reader know how well versed a student is with the English language, how correct the writer can be, and how logically and reasonably an applicant can think through a paragraph or two. The essay also reveals something about the personality of the writer,–but only if it is actually written by the writer.

Of course, it is the select colleges that use the essay most often for admission. So our proposal? –that the colleges that wish to rely on the college essay have that essay written done on campus while students visit the college. The remaining colleges might forgo the essay altogether.

Yes, our proposal would require a student make a campus visit, but that visit could be done over nine or more months’ time. Colleges could even offer students who submit very high grades and test scores early or who have need for travel monies a stipend for the visit. While students are on campus, they would be asked to sit for an hour and submit their writing, much like college freshmen do on the first day of college orientation for placements in courses. Admission officers would be able to eliminate some essays quickly if they were poorly done, and their overall reading load would be spread over more time and could be read without a looming deadline, giving a bit more time and thought to considering the writing submitted.

If a student simply can not visit the campus, such as an international student applicant or an applicant who lives a huge distance away, there is the option of using Skype. (Some colleges already use Skype for interviewing.) A student would Skype the office of admissions, the prompt would be given, the student would be timed on line, and then attach his essay via email.

What do you all think?