A Must Read

Frank Bruni had a thought-provoking column in the New York Times yesterday about students who are writing extremely “oversharing” essays in their desperation to gain attention at the most selective schools. You can read it at:


I must say this has not been the case among students I’ve worked with. They write pieces that are frank, open, and often deal with issues of real stress and hardship, but they are always disciplined and thoughtful pieces of writing.

You have to understand that there is something basically confessional about the college admissions essay. And there’s no problem with that, as confessional writing is certainly a time-honored genre. If you understand as well that your essay has to follow a form, then that will help to ensure that your product will have the discipline necessary to allow others to enter into the reading experience. An understanding of the narrative form, as I lay it out in my book, Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps, will help to keep you anchored. One aspect of the narrative form that is particularly important to understand is The Point. Why have you actually decided to tell this story? What are you and your reader meant to take away from it? If you can answer that question, then there is a good chance that you have not merely indulged in a sobfest or a desperate appeal for attention, but, rather, you have written something that somebody else will actually want to read.