My advice to a high school senior or transfer student, who’s preparing to share their innermost thoughts with a perfect stranger (AKA a college admissions officer), as they draft college essays would be to consider the acclaimed author, Stephen King’s, view on writing:
The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them—words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it?
The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it.
That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.
For college applicants, the “understanding ear” is the college acceptance. They know that another human being not only read the heartfelt words painstakingly typed letter by letter to formulate a narrative, but the other person understands the humanity in the story they told.
An additional benefit to writing brutally honest college essays, applicants can make plain their ability, elucidate their vision and provide a roadmap for the rest of their lives, so as to not stray too far from their chosen path and suffer unnecessarily, remembering the whole way that its not the destination, but the journey that counts in the end.