Let the 17 Year Old Voice Be Heard
During our September 21 NACAC sessions, admissions officers from both Yale and the University of Michigan along with Dr. Joseph and Rebecca Cullen from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation made it clear that they prefer to read college application essays from high school senior whose own voices emerge not the voices of parents, counselors, or other well meaning advisors. Dr. Joseph joined them in advocating for different strategies to help students write their own powerful college application essays. “We can help students write powerful essays that express unique 1st person experiences that only a true teenager can share,” Dr. Joseph recommends.
Some audience members worried that poor writing skills, weak English levels, or lack of experiences could limit essays. Dr. Joseph and the other panel members encouraged audience members to focus on the core goal of finding the match college for students. “All students have stories. Just look at the Facebook pages or Instagram. They come in all shapes and sizes,” says Dr. Joseph. We need to help students see the stories in their own lives. They are going to college to learn. They need to be honest in how they present themselves so they can receive the best education possible.” Panelists recommended the use of case studies, model essays, and several brainstorming activities to help students and families see that there is no standardized college application essay.