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Monday, July 22, 2013
Your Admissions Essay-an Exercise in Teaching?
They say the best way to learn is to teach. Most educators will tell you that they often learn as much from their students as their students do from them. Put simply, it's virtually impossible to really understand a concept if you can't explain it to someone else. Ever been asked to "define irony"? Explain why the sun sets every day?
Sure. I know what you mean. I just can't. Quite. Explain it.
No one wants to read an essay like that. And I've read many. Multitudes of essays written by students who are obviously trying really hard trying to write something catchy, anecdotal, even allegorical. Quite often, it's just boring.
Any college English professor will tell you that if you don't have a solid thesis, your writing will meander. To me, meandering is the single biggest offense I see in admissions essay writing. It's what makes essays uninteresting or hard to follow. You must have a point, and you must defend that point persuasively.
And let's face it, defending a point persuasively is precisely what a good educator does. If your math teacher can't find a way to convince you that 2+2 is 4, then he's not doing his job.
So as an exercise, pretend that your essay is an instruction guide of sorts. You are teaching your reader about you or something important to you. Don't confuse this with what you think your reader might want to hear. No teacher would be successful at her job if she were simply pandering to her students.
If you're going to define irony, do it well.
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