The Ivy Coach Daily

August 15, 2022

College Essays Are Opportunities

Don’t submit grains of rice to Rice University when prompted to submit an image. That is neither cute nor original (photo credit: Earth100).

Frustrated by the University of Chicago essay prompts because they’re just so wacky? Not sure what to include as an image in The Box on the Rice University supplement? Struggling with how to respond to Wake Forest University’s top ten list question? If so, know that you’re not alone. But we at Ivy Coach — and our students — absolutely love these creative essay prompts. Ok, maybe our students don’t love them per se. But they understand these sorts of questions serve them well. And why? Because these sorts of original prompts offer our students the opportunity to shine, to dare to be different, to let it be known how they’re going to contribute their singular hook to the respective institutions.

And just how important are college essays? In a recent piece for The Wall Street Journal entitled “College Essay Prompts Get Absurd. ’So Where Is Waldo, Really?’,” Isabelle Sarraf writes, “Back-to-school season is approaching, and for many rising high-school seniors, so is the grinding process of applying to college. Most college applications—including the Common Application and the Coalition for College—opened on Monday. A key part of the frothing madness of college-admissions season: crafting the perfect essay. Essays might now carry more weight in the increasingly competitive admissions process since about 72% of schools have already made college entrance exams optional next year, a shift away from standardized tests that accelerated during the pandemic. These teenage treatises are a chance to shine creatively, and often, to stare bleary-eyed at a blank computer screen.”

So the next time you come across a crazy college essay prompt that leaves you scratching your head for a long while, take a beat and think of it not as an obstacle but as an opportunity. The school has given you the real estate to make your case, to attempt to persuade admissions officers to want to root for you. It’s a chance for you to be original. It’s a chance to showcase how you think. It’s a chance for you to demonstrate how you wish to change the world in one super specific way. And, no, submitting a picture of grains of rice to Rice University as your answer to The Box prompt is neither cute nor original one bit. Come on now!

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