College Application Essay Guidance, Writing

You can’t hide who you are

true character“Samantha” was one of my favorite clients last year. A hard worker with parents who had endured multiple layoffs, she wanted to write about what she had learned from her family’s experience.

There was great material here—she had stepped up to help take care of her younger brothers; her parents’ struggles had motivated her to work even harder; and she had written about a tender moment with her dad at the dining room when he was surrounded by job applications.

But the essay didn’t work—at least not at first.

It was a dull read. Too negative, too much about her family, not enough about her.

We worked together through multiple drafts and eventually came up with a creative way to present her story.  Great admissions results: Samantha was admitted to nearly every school she applied to.

But what stuck with me the most was Samantha’s attitude. The kind and thoughtful girl who showed up in her essays was the same girl in real life.

Her emails responding to my feedback were filled with gratitude for my help. She shared her acceptances with me as they arrived. She wrote me a thank you note when the process was over. This girl, so lovely on the page, was also so lovely as a person.

I’m guessing the college admissions officers felt the same way.