When writing college essays: be yourself, not plagued by doubt

Every year, high school seniors doubt that characterizing their experiences with rigorous honesty, exposing their human flaws or even a critique of their educational experience in their college application essays will garner them the acceptance they seek. They, instead, seek to rationalize contorting themselves into some glimmer or reflection of themselves in order to game admissions

One senior last Fall 2021 asked, Can I be truthful?” [emphasis on the “can”] almost astounded by the thought, while discussing ideas for college essays. I wondered, “What are the conditions which we’ve created where candor is now something to be questioned, doubted, even denied?”

Many students fear that their life’s work will be meaningless if not validated by a college acceptance. Thus, many students are willing to contrive their lives on paper to be The Ideal College Applicant, whomever that may be. And, often the contrivance doesn’t simply arise at the moment of application. 

Many students and their parents have been carefully curating a resume throughout their childhood. Often, parents approach extracurriculars in Goldilocks-like fashion, registering kids for every sport, group, educational camp, lesson, or tutoring available, until something stuck

In seeking structured educational experiences, parents can diminish childhood, a laboratory where kids shed light on talent, skill or purpose. Consumed by a schedule, kids are limited in the opportunity to choose their own adventure, learn from mistakes, and stumble upon their full potential as a human being. They have little understanding of themselves without the metric of a win, an award, a certificate, or the whistle of a referee. 

Thus, perhaps the doubts about the value of candidness in drafting their college essays is simply the symptom of little self-awareness and subsequently, self-confidence. Yet, without an honest and objective appraisal of their lives to date, students risk beginning college with a limited understanding of why they’re attending college in the first place. Thus, they risk malinvestment of their efforts to date in seeking admissions, as well as their life’s prosperity.

For more information about how to navigate the complex college admissions process to prepare any student for the challenging global socioeconomic situtation, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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