We’ve been working with high school students on their college admissions essays for years. In all these years, one of our key takeaways is that high school students just plain can’t write. Many can’t string together complete sentences. Some have no understanding of what is enjoyable to read…and what isn’t. Some start every sentence with “however” or “nevertheless” because their high school English teacher taught them it’s important to do this. Word of advice?: Don’t listen to your high school English teacher on this particular subject. College essays are not thesis papers. They should be written colloquially. They should inspire or make a reader laugh, cry, or want to dance. Change the reader’s emotions and you’ve done well in your college essays.
You may know that Ivy Coach is a family business. And last night, the best writer we know, James McBride, a good friend and producing partner of the Founder of Ivy Coach’s son, won the nation’s most prestigious book prize: the National Book Award. In pre-National Book Award talks, James was considered a mighty underdog. As it’s written in a writeup of the National Book Awards in “The New York Times,” “Taking the stage with a stunned expression, Mr. McBride, who was considered an underdog in speculation before the awards, said he had not bothered to write a speech.”
James burst into the national spotlight with his “New York Times” bestselling memoir “The Color of Water,” about growing up black with a Jewish mother. Prior to this hugely successful book — which is now required reading in public schools across America — he was a journalist. He’s written a movie with Spike Lee and had another of his books adapted as a movie by the director. And his latest book “The Good Lord Bird” is most certainly going to be made into a film. James is a writer who can cross mediums. He happens to be one of our nation’s best writers. But, for the purpose of our admissions blog, the point of our story is that good writers can write well in any medium. And, in college essays, we strive to help students learn to become better, more confident writers. It’s part and parcel with the rewrite process.