Thursday, April 29, 2010

Myths and Misconceptions of the College Essay: Writing to Reveal Part 7

In closing, I have discovered that student's often have a "Pavlovian dog-like" response anytime I say essay. Immediately students want to knock out their thesis and organizing principle, arrange their supporting details, and frame every point within a 5-paragraph form. This shouldn't surprise us, I guess. From September to May, they are in analytical writing mode. Whether it's character analysis of John Proctor in The Crucible; or color symbolism in The Great Gatsby; or the iconic power of the Mississippi River in Huck Finn; students feel comfortable with this form. The college essay is, however, meant to be something entirely different. It's meant to involve a character - you, the protagonist. It's meant to include a symbol loaded with personal meaning. And it's meant to contain an image that sticks in the readers consciousness like Velcro. In other words, the college essay is meant to be a story that contains a treasure within - a latent literary power within - for the admission officer to discover.