Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts on Micro Essays for College Applications

I had some thoughts after hearing about this. My impressions were before reading what others said later on in the article.

The new college admissions essay: short as a tweet

I bet this is a backlash against hearing too many essays that didn't reveal much about the candidate beyond showing they can write. Surely there are enough decent writers that they all start to look the same. Thus the colleges don't want to hear the "right response" they want to hear an "honest response".

I bet colleges get too many canned answers of stuff that the applicants think is what the colleges want to hear, and they are sick of it. If I were an admissions officer I'd reject anyone who gave robotic canned answers.

I bet applicants are following expert's advice about what to write and how, and that it's been happening for more years than the colleges can stand. They probably are just dying to hear more about who the student really is as a real person and they hope the essay can help put a more human face to it than the other parts of the application do (the numbers and lists).

I know some applicants are using ghost writers they hire. Some have the gall to call themselves college admissions coaches when in fact they are just essay ghost writers. I bet colleges are onto this scam. Now that more people are aware of such a paid service and so many can afford it, they're using those services, and the colleges must hate that. It's kind of like scamming the admissions office. Is there anyone who likes knowing the wool is being pulled over their eyes?

By asking quirky questions of the applicants, they are able to see if the person is unique or boring, and if they are a creative thinker.

By limiting the number of words in the response to a low number they force the applicant to use creative thinking and to use brevity. It is not easy to get the most content out of a short word count.

Lastly, I think it saves time on processing the college applications! I heard that some colleges are not even spending five minutes reading an application!

What do you think?


Xa Lynn said...

I question how much any "essay" written in characters as opposed to letters will tell an admissions officer regarding whether or not a particular student will succeed at a particular school. Having said that, I like the idea of a few short-answer questions that allow applicants to be witty and creative in their responses, if only to alleviate the boredom of the AO reading all those applications.

ChristineMM said...

Hi Xa Lynn,
One of the schools with micro esays is U of Chicago.

I heard an admissions officer speak about their process a few weeks ago at MIT Splash. As to whether they will do well there the answer for U of Chicago is they rely heavily on school profiles and the transcript and scores to predict that. Maybe I should do a blog post on that to explain what she said more.

K said...

Many universities waive the admissions essay for any number of reasons. If you apply early, if you visit the campus over this or that weekend, if you do a jig..... makes me think they really don't care.
I think Katie had to write only one 'essay' and they only wanted a paragraph and it was a very vanilla topic and I bet wasn't even read.
In the end the only school that really wanted anything original from her, was the school she ended up attending. While her essay was waived after attending a weekend and taking a test/writing an essay for scholarships, the admissions committee asks for an amusing anecdote or story. "Make us laugh", she submitted a poem she wrote on a lark that was a parody of a love sonnet. And yes, it was read as it was specifically mentioned in her acceptance letter.
Jack, on the other hand, is already working on essays for applications to the summer seminars at the US service academies and they will just be the beginning.

Xa Lynn said...

I'd like to hear more on that!

Xa Lynn