Wednesday, March 6

College Essays Make Kids Stupid and Selfish

This was an interesting article.

Quick quiz: Which of the following is not an essay topic on the latest version of the common application to gain admission to U.S. colleges?

1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event -- formal or informal -- that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.

6. Discuss a particularly significant Facebook status update. What prompted it? Where were you when you posted it? How did you feel when only four of your friends “liked” it?

The common application, which is now accepted by more than 500 colleges, is the best example of how the admissions process has become an exercise in encouraging 17-year-olds’ narcissism. Also new this year, rising high-school seniors will be allotted 650 words in which to indulge themselves. Was that because the 500 they have been given previously just didn’t do these topics justice?

Now as one can appreciate, one can ask other questions which the author refers to

What about a historical event that influenced you? Again, there will be plenty of opportunity for reflection on your own life when you reveal that the Emancipation Proclamation actually released your great-great-great-grandparents from bondage.

Or that learning about the Holocaust made you change your view of Judaism and whether God is good. Or perhaps that reading about the women’s suffrage movement turned you into an ardent feminist. But it won’t be all about you.

How about an invention that most changed your life? You might write that it’s the cell phone or the iPad. You would at least have to reflect on why that is the case, know something about its development, what life was like before it, and even -- here’s the key -- construct an argument for why this particular thing was more influential than other things.

The navel-gazing essays require only telling a story, a “narrative” about yourself, as college administrators have it. Sure, there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. It could be in a “five-paragraph” format. But it doesn’t reveal much about how you think -- just how you feel.

given that we will be working with Kannu’s college entrance essay, it will be interesting to see what he wants to write about. He has selected a topic which is surprisingly close to my last PhD, what is the impact of war on economies. I promise, I didnt have anything to do with it, so its quite interesting…Here in the UK, you have a different this kind of navel gazing or grazing is avoided..

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