The vice president and dean of admission at Reed College — a liberal arts school in Oregon — recently went on Reddit to answer questions about the college admissions process.
A. Tell me a good story.
I’ve long said storytellers own the world. Take a second to think about someone that always has a wild tale for you. Think about someone who always make you laugh. It’s likely that when that person shares, you feel a personal connection. That’s the way we humans work, that’s the way we connect.
If you can imagine someone in front of a room who is captivating, interesting and compelling – chances are that it’s an individual that has a special skill of conveying their experiences in a chronological, engaging and compelling fashion.
Storytellers know why they’re telling a story. They know how to build the other involved characters in the minds of the audience. They know the punchline, or the takeaway message; they know when to stop telling the story, when to pause for you to catch up… they take you somewhere or someplace and, when it’s time to deliver the big bang, they deliver a communal experience that leaves you feeling an affinity for them as a storyteller.
Imagine doing that for an admission committee.
B. Essays with a “so what?”.
But, for your college essay, don’t just tell your admission committee a clever story you’ve shared with any given “grown-up” that has appreciated your maturity.
You HAVE to (have to) tell us why we should care. After you write your original, well constructed essay – ask yourself “Why should they care?”. If your answer isn’t captured in your essay, you’ve more work to do.
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