Over 300 Essays...and All is Well

Several colleges have essay prompts that start with the words “I believe” or “This I believe.” Students then have to fill in the rest of the sentence.


I hate this. Many students figure that they must say something profound, which is never original or deep when read by an admissions officer lost in a sea of thousands of applications. Students are also apprehensive when I suggest saying something funny. Creative thinkers, like my jazz drummer from last year, used the line, “Drum machines have no soul.” This was a perfect window into his character; however, I understand that this prompt is a real roadblock for many students.


How would I respond to this prompt myself? Would I really say, “Aliens are stealing my socks?”

(I likely heard that somewhere else and it stuck in my brain, which is why I give it as a “funny” example to students.) I probably wouldn’t.


At this moment, just one week into August, here is my response:


I believe my students are amazing and many of them are exceeding expectations.


My college process philosophy is to reduce stress by completing as much essay and application work as possible in the summer. This way, students can begin senior year with less pressure as they take on the demands of senior year courses, sports and other activities.


Regarding the college process, my students’ only concerns should be requesting transcripts from guidance and letters of recommendations from teachers, which requires clicking a few keys on Naviance and perhaps filling out a few forms. As soon as the high schools reopen Naviance, Genesis, Schoology, or whatever programs they use, students will be able to enter their grades for the colleges which require that. A few still need to have their senior year courses confirmed. But that’s it.


They will be ready to submit their applications early in the fall because all the time-consuming parts of the applications will be complete by then.


I admit that I worried when I tallied up over 300 essays that needed to be written. Now I have total confidence in my students. Colleges should know how impressive they are!