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Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a... Read more

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College Application Essay: A Dream or Nightmare?

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Recently there has been a lot of mention in the news about reaching the 50-year milestone anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic march on our nation’s capital. Now this may seem a little strange, but it has gotten me thinking about college application essays. Perhaps you’re thinking that I’m taking this too far, Or that I need to take a break from being a writing coach. But bear with me here, and I’ll explain.

Not unlike MLK’s speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, many essays I assist with are filled with students’ dreams: dreams of their future and dreams of their role in making this world a better place. And these dream-filled essays are coming from even the most analytical people, such as those applying to engineering programs at prestigious schools such as Michigan and MIT.

Is this a good thing? You bet! There’s a place for planning and a place for dreaming. The application essay is a place in which the student not only can—but should—allow his or her dreams to soar!

How inspirational would MLK’s speech have been if he said, “I have a plan…”? Not very, I suppose. When King spoke of his dream, it was inspirational not just to the people who shared his dream, but to all people with dreams of their own and dreams for their children. Likewise, when a student writes about his or her dreams in the essay, the admissions officer can relate because he or she was once at this fork-in-the-road of life between high school and college, student and professional, youth and adult. Dreams may differ, but we all have them; they’re what make us human.

Admissions officers see many applicants with similar GPA’s and test scores. The applicant who can write an essay that reflects his or her individuality through an interesting story will capture attention. Believe it or not, admissions officers are human, and some of their decisions, when you get right down to it, are emotional. If they like you, they’ll want you at their school. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the numbers aren’t important. I’m saying admissions officers often turn to the GPA and test scores to rationalize their emotional decisions. Do you see the importance of the essay in the application process, especially when the GPA’s and test scores are similar among applicants? I can’t emphasize this enough: The essay absolutely can make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Think about it.

So plan on how you will finance your education and your educational path, but let your dreams shine in your essay! However, you’ll have to be more subtle than declaring “I have a dream.…” That line already has been most notably taken!

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Nancy Frieder

About Nancy Frieder

Nancy Frieder hopes her passion for assisting students with their college and post graduate application essays shines through in her blogs. She created The Write Stuff Help to reduce the stress for the applicants and their parents by helping the student pinpoint an essay topic and write it in a way to attract admissions officers. Those who work with Nancy not only improve their writing, but also learn to target an audience with a unique reflection of themselves in a way that their test scores and GPA cannot.

Nancy has lived in Montgomery County for more than 27 years. She has held reporting and editing positions for both local and national publications, and enjoys substitute teaching in Montgomery County Public Schools. Nancy and her husband just became empty-nesters, as both of their children now attend college. Their dog, Fez, is getting more attention than ever!

Catch up with Nancy on Facebook and at her website The Write Stuff Help.

Comments

3 Responses to “College Application Essay: A Dream or Nightmare?”

  1. On August 30, 2013 at 9:38 am responded with... #

    Excellent idea Nancy and congratulations. My 3rd child is now writing her essays for college applications and is taking a class developed by a teacher and student last year to do just that. She is a senior at Rockville high school and I will forward your blog onto her.

    • Nancy Frieder
      On August 30, 2013 at 10:45 am responded with... #

      Fantastic, Ellen! I’m glad to hear your daughter’s gears are spinning! As an experienced mother who has been through this process before, you know what a nightmare it can can be if your son or daughter waits until the last minute to start. It’s stressful enough as it is–even with a good head start. I’ve been through it twice myself. In fact, we’re taking our second (and last!) off to college this weekend. So I’m not only a new blogger, but a new empty-nester, too! I hope you enjoy my posts, and thank you for passing them on to anyone for whom they may help!

  2. On August 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm responded with... #

    Congrats to your freshman. Good luck adjusting to your new lifestyle, that means you can write more blogs and that’s good for us. My husband and I just returned home from dropping my 2nd son off at College and my 1st ( a junior at UMD) is moving into a house with 7 other friends this weekend. I’ve decided this is going to be a great year and I’m looking forward to reading more of your blogs.




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