O’Connor, Ph D, is associate dean of college counseling at Cranbrook Kingswood School in metropolitan Detroit.
A past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Michigan ACAC, Patrick also teaches “Counseling in the College Selection Process” as both a graduate class and a professional development program.
But if they did that with every applicant, they'd need 20 years to decide who gets admitted.
Since they can't do that, they ask for your side of those conversations in writing—and just like a face-to-face conversation or a really good text discussion, the quality of the conversation in the college essay is all up to you.
Nothing stuffy or boring, but the real you, talking about real ideas.
If it's done well, that's exactly what a good college essay does—inspires ideas.
It was special because of the way the student told the story, showing what happened, and what it means to the student now that the experience is over.
That's an important part of a good essay—show them, don't tell them.
Think about all the writing you do that has nothing to do with school. It isn't hard to write then—in fact, most students love to write then.
You put an opinion out there, someone responds, you post an answer, someone else jumps in the conversation, and suddenly, there's a real exchange of ideas going on.