College Essays

College Essays

By Elizabeth Hong

College Essays

August 1: both the UC app and Common app are open for prospective college students. From every person I’ve talked to who has gone through this rite of passage, this has proven to be true: writing your personal essay just sucks. It’s easy to submit transcripts, punch in your standardizedtest scores, and fill in the rest of all those trivialities because they don’t require you to delve deep into every waking moment of your life and hope to find some tragedy that made you a master of your fate, a captain of your soul. I think of episode 3 of season 7 in Modern Family. Haley’s writing her college essay and finds that her life as a middle-class teenager in suburban Los Angeles is, gasp, boring; she then proceeds to blame her parents for making her life uninteresting, devoid of any danger or obstacles. I can safely say that most of us have probablyfaced this same realization. We live in Huntington Beach, an affluent, predominately white suburb. (There’s even a Real Housewives of Orange County here!)  Most of us have never had to overcome poverty or homelessness. Girls use Louis Vuittons as book bags, gated communities are typical, our parents watch Fox News. We can’t spin a heroic tale about overcoming tragedies because our lives are just boring on face value. Suddenly we don’t seem so remarkable and our first-grade teachers are all liars. You’re all special! Everyone is different in his or her own unique way! And like Haley from Modern Family, we proceed to criticize our lives for being remarkably flat, nothing from which we can construct moral platitudes about self-growth, personal achievements, or any other buzzwords that a college admissions officer would vociferouslydevour. Curse this gilded cage! Curse the comfort of knowing that I will always have a roof over my head and food on the table! I’m just as lost as you are on how to write these essays. But I’ve given up on trying to be ungrateful or critical of these past 17 years that have been pretty good so far. I can’t turn back time and reincarnation is many, many years down the line.

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