Concentration isn’t easy in today’s day and age; one must really, pointedly make time and space to focus for anyone, let alone teenagers. Just in communicating with others, teens’ attentions are pulled in multiple directions each day. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 63% of all teens report texting daily, with 60 being the average number of texts sent each day and for teens 14-17 the average number of texts written daily increases to 100. Plus, 29% of all teens report using social networking sites, like Facebook, to communicate daily with friends. Then, for college going teens, the amount of work assigned and expected to be learned in AP classes and the intricacy of the concepts presented requires focus, which can be already stretched–making everyday academics difficult, and focus for the college essay writing process even more complex. So, when students and their parents read the college essay question that’s only 200 characters, the short response lulls them into believing that writing a response will be a piece of cake, giving relief in their already busy day. Until, the student sits down and begins crafting an answer, only to realize that in order to provide the greater insights about themselves which will have to fit within that “Tweet and a Quarter” of space is going to require concentration and time.
Thinking seriously about one’s experience and what one values isn’t a daily meditation for most people, let alone teenagers. Given the myriad of demands on a teenager’s attention, writing the college essays, which require introspection to draft a competitive statement, can quickly become stressful. Try and write the perfect “Tweet” of a college essay in the first draft, limiting one’s thinking to the character count, is fraught with difficulties that tests even the most avid writer. However, following the writing process–brainstorm, outline, drafting, editing–helps ease student’s stress. The character count forces applicants “say what you mean and mean what you say,” pushing Seniors to really have to think through their ideas. The writing process gives students the needed steps to work through their thinking in pieces, rather than all at once. So, while writing multiple drafts may try one’s patience, a confidence in the final edits will be created.
Photo Credit: Art Baird, Creative Marbles Consultancy, 2012