November 1, 2009

No Fancy Trimming and No Lies


“My mother insists that we send each admissions officer a piñata, and inside it would be my college essays and resume wrapped around pieces of candy.”

“My mother had a fit because I didn’t give my guidance counselor envelopes that had stamps with the American flag on them.”

“My father insists that I spend the summer building houses in Costa Rica so that I can have something special to write about.”

“My uncle tells me that I should write an essay that says I am a concert pianist.  They’ll never know it’s not true.”

“I can buy a really good essay off the internet and not worry about this whole deal!”

All of these statements were actually made by high school seniors.
All sad.
All wrong.

The college application is supposed to reflect who you are, what you’ve done, and how you express yourself.  The admissions officers have criteria for selection of the members of their next class.  They will look carefully at your transcript, resume, test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays to determine whether you are good fit for their school.  Sometimes, of course, it seems unfair:  If Dream University needs a strong new member of the lacrosse team or a wonderful tuba player, that person may be accepted even though his or her grades may not be as high as those of other applicants.  If the parents of your best friend graduated from Dream University, your friend will be considered as a “legacy” candidate.  There’s nothing you can do about the advantages that other people may have.

But have you presented yourself honestly and positively as you would for an interview?  Does your application show what you have learned, achieved and aspired to do during high school?  Have you taken every opportunity to show, truthfully, that you have considered the essay questions with the respect and thoughtfulness that they deserve?  Then you have done your best – without piñatas or fancy stamps or trumped-up topics or lies – and you would want to be accepted only by a school that will treat you in the same way.

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