As you may have read in the press, a high school senior from Long Island named Kwasi Enan was admitted to each of the eight Ivy League institutions. This certainly is not newsworthy. But, at the same time, this isn’t all that common, in part because, as an example, a student who earns admission at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton often doesn’t get into a school like Cornell because Cornell knows that student isn’t going to attend. Instead, they’ll go to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Cornell cares about its yield, so they will indeed deny qualified students that they think have no intention of coming to Ithaca. “The New York Post” and “New York Magazine” reflect on Kwasi Enan’s Common App. Personal Statement, which is published online (the essays of our students would never be published online — oy vey). But we figured that since it is published online, we’d take the time to reflect on it.
While Kwasi Enan was admitted to each of the eight Ivies, it was not because of this college essay. This college essay — while not among the extremely bad ones we’ve read over the years (which are the vast majority) — just isn’t particularly good. This essay wasn’t the reason that Kwasi was admitted. It’s fairly trite and it’s certainly boring, albeit mostly grammatically correct. Kwasi basically walks the reader through his love of music mostly through telling rather than showing and then relates music to his activities. We do not advise students to write about their activities and accomplishments in their Common App. Personal Statement. That is an absolute mistake and it makes for a dull essay. Which this most certainly is.
We don’t know Kwasi’s SAT or ACT scores. We don’t know his grades or his achievements. We know where he’s from. We know he loves music. We know he’s an underrepresented minority. We know he has performed in a musical. We’re certain he was an excellent candidate for admission to each of the eight Ivy League institutions. But this particular essay was not the cause for his admission. Statements in college essays like, “My musical haven has shaped my character and without it, my life would not be half as wonderful as it is today” and “Lastly, music has become the educator that has taught me the importance of leadership, teamwork and friendship” — trite, trite, trite. And there are many more trite statements littered throughout the essay. We can only imagine the kind of powerful essay that Kwasi Enan could have written. This just wasn’t it. Kwasi Enan was admitted in spite of — not because of — his Common App. Personal Statement.