College Admissions Storytelling Time is Upon Us

Applying to college is complicated. Many believe their past laurels will merit an acceptance letter, yet often fret about distinguishing themselves from other similarly qualified candidates. Thus, when all the boxes of biographical information are completed, the heavy lifting of answering, “Who am I?” in 500 words or less begins. Yet, for many teens, self-reflection is a muscle they may not have recently flexed, thus their self-awareness is likely fledgling

Thus, many seniors (and transfer students too) only twist themselves in tighter knots, trying to guess what admissions people want to hear instead of being true to themselves. Many students seek support in random Google queries for sample college essays or social media where they mistake the hive mind of other inexperienced teens as truth, which only typically results in more confusion. So, many will postpone writing any ideas. 

Exacerbating the difficulty of their quest for self-understanding, rarely does anything in their daily life relent. Teachers continue presenting curriculum at the typical fast pace, extracurricular commitments must be maintained, and soon, annual holiday family gatherings, possibly even travel, will be scheduled, right when many applications are due. Thus, students have ready-made and legitimate excuses for postponing writing college essays. 

Additionally, applicants are immersed at school in the consistent chittering of college admissions drama, then after school hours reading Twittering projected angst. Plus, many adults innocuously ask, “Where are you applying to college?”, and “What are you going to study?”, often more reminders of their lack of self-awareness. Thus, many will avoid writing seeking to stave off the discomfort of being less-aware of the meaning of their own lives. 

Furthermore, many may be writing about past challenges, life’s forks in the road which can be painful to revisit. Thus, the energy required to process repressed emotions can be unexpected and complex. Without support from experienced college admissions guides or other trusted adults, teens may also be managing their emotional health with limited tools. As a result, parents may only observe a lack of effort, misperceiving the student’s actions as procrastination

And, not to overstate the obvious, but Fall 2022 applicants are coming of age in the midst of a pandemic, many having spent the last 18 months lacking space separate from the watchful eyes of their parents to wrangle with their own agency and persona. Thus, writing their memoirs not only to provide necessary insights to college admissions officers, but more importantly, to know themselves, is even more difficult. Thus, many seniors will delay writing (even the dishes will be more important).

Parents, knowing the perils of last minute efforts and also fueled by their own expectations of their child’s college aspirations, will try to goad, plead, punish, nag, incentivize, roll-up-their-sleeves and sit with their teens to write “together”—often resulting in mixed output, yet sure to aggravate create tensions.

Teens work when they work though deadlines have a tendency to focus the mind, especially when the deadline is for a process that has consumed most of the past decade of their lives. Students know what is at stake and when they are ready will rise to the occasion telling the story of their amazing life in proving to all the adults who will take the time to listen that they deserve the chance to prove their worth.

Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students craft insightful essays, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please contact us 

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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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