Saturday, April 6, 2013

No Sample Essays ~ Why?

Some of the more popular sites for those looking for help with college admissions essays provide sample essays - essays from specific colleges, "winning" essays, "essays that worked," and so on. I have thought long and hard about whether to include sample essays on my website - either essays by my clients or some of the essays provided by other colleges. And the answer I keep coming up with is "No." No sample essays. 

Why not?

I think looking at sample essays once a student is nearly finished with his or her essays can be valuable - though I don't believe it's necessary. But I feel strongly that looking at sample essays before writing yours can be intimidating, misleading, and/or distracting.  


The most important elements of your college or graduate school essays are your voice, your experience, your perspective, and your words. College admissions officers say this over and over. Here's a "tip sheet" from an admissions officer at Connecticut College that appeared several years ago in The New York Times. The author urges you to write about yourself, use your own voice, and to be genuine. She's got some other advice worth looking at too, but it's important to begin with these. The process of doing your essays is the process of figuring out your topics, finding your voice, and making the essays yours. Reading sample essays will introduce you to other people and other voices, but may get in the way of you finding your own voice. You are unmistakably you. That's the person the colleges want to get to know. 

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