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Any experience using Common App essay prompt #7?


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My DD is having second thoughts about the common app essay she wrote earlier this summer (and has continued tweaking over the several weeks since). It’s okay, but not great. And she’s a really great student and writer. It’s just such a weird, hard thing to write reflectively about yourself. 
 

Her summer assignment for her Blue Tent Advanced Senior English (post-AP) was to read of book of her choice and write a book review. She chose “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and her book review is, IMHO, superb. The subject of the book aligns with some of her primary academic interests: systemic racism, health disparities, economic inequality, etc. Her review demonstrated a nuanced understanding of these complicated issues, deep compassion, and legitimate criticism of the book. 

I know that the final Common App essay prompt is: 

  1. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Has anyone had a student use this prompt to share a piece they wrote for a class? What are the risks? benefits? of going this route rather than using a first person, personal essay? WWYD in this situation? Go with the just okay personal essay? Or go out on a limb and submit and entirely different type of writing? She is applying to some selective/highly selective schools. 

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Honestly, I would not have a student submit an essay that isn't at least in part personal. Nothing wrong with using the "submit whatever you want" prompt. A large percentage of students do, actually. But you want the essay to be about you.

Most of those highly selectives have other opportunities to show off academic writing. Some allow a portfolio. Some have additional essays where it may be appropriate. 

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Can she take the review and weave it into a personal essay?  Could she approach it as reading and contemplating the book helped her clarify her views as she agreed/disagreed with the premises presented?  

FWIW, my dd wrote a personal essay based on a coffee table book on Mother Teresa and the images.

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4 hours ago, fourisenough said:

 

  1. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Has anyone had a student use this prompt to share a piece they wrote for a class? What are the risks? benefits? of going this route rather than using a first person, personal essay? WWYD in this situation? Go with the just okay personal essay? Or go out on a limb and submit and entirely different type of writing? She is applying to some selective/highly selective schools. 

Risks:  Frankly, I don't think admissions readers are really interested in learning yet another take on an already widely read and discussed best selling book and movie.   Like PPs I often hear that readers use this essay to learn more about your student as a person.  Does this essay serve that purpose?  

Benefits:  Your student's attempt to write about herself will give the impression that she is a worse human she actually is.  Another benefit is she will save herself some time.  

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1 hour ago, MamaSprout said:

And honestly? Her existing essay is good. Her "voice" is genuine and it speaks to who she is.

She's lived with that essay for a really long time and is probably tired of it.  

That’s a good point. I do think it’s possible to spend too much time on something and then become overly critical of it. 
 

Okay, everyone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll suggest she just go with what she’s got.

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