September 26, 2020

Your Money: College Essays That Stand Out From the Crowd

If you’re a high school senior trying to seduce the admissions officer reading your application essay, this may not strike you as the ideal opening line. But Shanti Kumar, a senior at the Bronx High School of Science, went ahead anyway when the university prompted her to react in writing to the idea of “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”

Back in January, when I asked high school seniors to send in college application essays about money, class, working and the economy, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come in over the transom.

But 66 students submitted essays, and with the help of Harry Bauld, the author of “On Writing the College Application Essay,” we’ve selected four to publish in full online and in part in this column. That allowed us to be slightly more selective than Princeton itself was last year.

What these four writers have in common is an appetite for risk. Not only did they talk openly about issues that are emotionally complex and often outright taboo, but they took brave and counterintuitive positions on class, national identity and the application process itself. For anyone looking to inspire their own children or grandchildren who are seeking to go to college in the fall of 2014, these four essays would be a good place to start.

Perhaps the most daring essay of all came from Julian Cranberg, a 17-year-old from Brookline, Mass. One of the first rules of the college admissions process is that you don’t write about the college admissions process.

But Mr. Cranberg thumbed his nose at that convention, taking on the tremendous cost of the piles of mail schools send to potential students, and the waste that results from the effort. He figured that he received at least $200 worth of pitches in the past year or so.

“Why, in an era of record-high student loan debt and unemployment, are colleges not reallocating these ludicrous funds to aid their own students instead of extending their arms far and wide to students they have never met?” he asked in the essay.

Antioch College seemed to think that was a perfectly reasonable question and accepted him, though he will attend Oberlin College instead, to which he did not submit the essay.

“It’s a bold move to critique the very institution he was applying to,” said Mr. Bauld, who also teaches English at Horace Mann School in New York City. “But here’s somebody who knows he can make it work with intelligence and humor.”

Indeed, Mr. Cranberg’s essay includes asides about applicants’ gullibility and the college that sent him a DHL “priority” envelope, noting inside that he was a priority to the college. “The humor here is not in the jokes,” Mr. Bauld added. “It originates in a critical habit of mind, and the kind of mind that is in this essay is going to play out extremely well in any class that he’s in.”

Admissions professionals often warn people away from the idea that they can write their way into the freshman class. “The essay is one document that, even in the best of circumstances, is written by an individual telling one story,” said Shawn Abbott, the assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions at New York University. “I don’t believe that any one writing sample should trump what they did over four years.”

Still, he acknowledged that his staff had been taken with the story told by Lyle Li, a 19-year-old Brooklyn resident who applied this year. He wrote about his family’s restaurant and his mother, an immigrant from China who once wanted to be a doctor and now works behind a cash register in a uniform.

“When I visit my friends, I see the names of elite institutions adorning the living room walls,” wrote Mr. Li, a senior at Regis High School in Manhattan. “I am conscious that these framed diplomas are testaments to the hard work and accomplishments of my friends’ parents and siblings. Nevertheless, the sight of them was an irritating reminder of the disparity between our households. I was not the upper-middle-class kid on Park Avenue. Truth be told, I am just some kid from Brooklyn. Instead of diplomas and accolades, my parents’ room emits a smell from the restaurant uniforms they wear seven days a week, all year round.”

Twitter: @ronlieber

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/your-money/four-college-essays-that-stand-out-from-the-crowd.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Your Money: Four College Essays That Stand Out From the Crowd

If you’re a high school senior trying to seduce the admissions officer reading your application essay, this may not strike you as the ideal opening line. But Shanti Kumar, a senior at the Bronx High School of Science, went ahead anyway when the university prompted her to react in writing to the idea of “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”

Back in January, when I asked high school seniors to send in college application essays about money, class, working and the economy, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come in over the transom.

But 66 students submitted essays, and with the help of Harry Bauld, the author of “On Writing the College Application Essay,” we’ve selected four to publish in full online and in part in this column. That allowed us to be slightly more selective than Princeton itself was last year.

What these four writers have in common is an appetite for risk. Not only did they talk openly about issues that are emotionally complex and often outright taboo, but they took brave and counterintuitive positions on class, national identity and the application process itself. For anyone looking to inspire their own children or grandchildren who are seeking to go to college in the fall of 2014, these four essays would be a good place to start.

Perhaps the most daring essay of all came from Julian Cranberg, a 17-year-old from Brookline, Mass. One of the first rules of the college admissions process is that you don’t write about the college admissions process.

But Mr. Cranberg thumbed his nose at that convention, taking on the tremendous cost of the piles of mail schools send to potential students, and the waste that results from the effort. He figured that he received at least $200 worth of pitches in the past year or so.

“Why, in an era of record-high student loan debt and unemployment, are colleges not reallocating these ludicrous funds to aid their own students instead of extending their arms far and wide to students they have never met?” he asked in the essay.

Antioch College seemed to think that was a perfectly reasonable question and accepted him, though he will attend Oberlin College instead, to which he did not submit the essay.

“It’s a bold move to critique the very institution he was applying to,” said Mr. Bauld, who also teaches English at Horace Mann School in New York City. “But here’s somebody who knows he can make it work with intelligence and humor.”

Indeed, Mr. Cranberg’s essay includes asides about applicants’ gullibility and the college that sent him a DHL “priority” envelope, noting inside that he was a priority to the college. “The humor here is not in the jokes,” Mr. Bauld added. “It originates in a critical habit of mind, and the kind of mind that is in this essay is going to play out extremely well in any class that he’s in.”

Admissions professionals often warn people away from the idea that they can write their way into the freshman class. “The essay is one document that, even in the best of circumstances, is written by an individual telling one story,” said Shawn Abbott, the assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions at New York University. “I don’t believe that any one writing sample should trump what they did over four years.”

Still, he acknowledged that his staff had been taken with the story told by Lyle Li, a 19-year-old Brooklyn resident who applied this year. He wrote about his family’s restaurant and his mother, an immigrant from China who once wanted to be a doctor and now works behind a cash register in a uniform.

“When I visit my friends, I see the names of elite institutions adorning the living room walls,” wrote Mr. Li, a senior at Regis High School in Manhattan. “I am conscious that these framed diplomas are testaments to the hard work and accomplishments of my friends’ parents and siblings. Nevertheless, the sight of them was an irritating reminder of the disparity between our households. I was not the upper-middle-class kid on Park Avenue. Truth be told, I am just some kid from Brooklyn. Instead of diplomas and accolades, my parents’ room emits a smell from the restaurant uniforms they wear seven days a week, all year round.”

Twitter: @ronlieber

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/your-money/four-college-essays-that-stand-out-from-the-crowd.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks Blog: Still Seeking College Application Essays About Money

This past weekend, the kind folks at Marketplace Money had me on to talk about the Your Money team’s continuing search for high school seniors who have written college application essays this year about money. You can listen to a clip from the program below.

 

 

If you have written about work, class issues, your family’s wealth (or lack thereof) or anything else that touches on your financial life or the economy, please send it to us at moneyessays@nytimes.com. We’ll pick the best ones with the help of Harry Bauld, the author of “On Writing the College Application Essay,” and publish them here on Bucks sometime in the spring.

Article source: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/14/still-seeking-college-application-essays-about-money/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Your Money: An Invitation to High School Seniors to Write About Finances

At Pitzer College, a student used the example of the Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff to take a philosophical look at how much money people truly need to be happy.

As the economy has suffered in recent years and college costs have risen, high school seniors have grappled with the fallout in their own families and channeled their feelings into an increasing number of memorable college application essays about sacrifice, social policy and affluence or its opposite.

“Students never used to write about this stuff,” said Angel Pérez, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Pitzer, which is in Claremont, Calif. “I think there is this new consciousness. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

Given the Your Money team’s long-standing endorsement of raising the financial consciousness of the younger set, we wanted to see these writings for ourselves. So we’re asking high school seniors who are applying for college this year to send us application essays that have anything at all to do with money, working, class, the economy and affluence (or lack thereof).

We’ll read them all and publish the best on our Bucks personal finance blog.

There is more on our editorial criteria and the logistics down below, but if you’re trying to figure out what counts as a money essay, think broadly, as many applicants have in recent years. “An essay ought to try to fill in the gaps, to tell us things that we don’t know about you,” said Erica Sanders, managing director of the office of undergraduate admissions at the University of Michigan.

Your guidance counselor and teachers who are writing letters of support for your application may not know about or think to write about your family’s financial status, good or bad. “Maybe a parent had to move out of town for work, and the student writes about taking on more responsibility, that it allowed them to take on more leadership and to contribute to their family in a way that they didn’t even know was possible,” she added, echoing essays she’s read in recent years.

Even if your family has not struggled or become fabulously wealthy, an essay about your part-time job certainly qualifies. “Many of our engineering students will talk about building something and the costs of putting it together,” Ms. Sanders said.

Aside from the Madoff essay, Mr. Perez has read other Pitzer applicant essays and had other conversations with applicants about money and the economy in recent years that have stuck with him.

“One student last year was very affected by the whole conversation about the 1 percent,” he said. “He sent us his proposal for the tax code. The committee thought that this is someone who is clearly thinking about this in a critical way, is informed about what is going on the world and has done some dissecting of the information, and that’s the kind of student we’re looking for.”

The college essay is always a bit of a high-wire act. Harry Bauld, the author of “On Writing the College Application Essay,” which I credit with helping me get into college, paints a visceral, frightening picture of haggard admissions officers reading dozens of essays each day. Then, he asks readers to imagine that their application is 38th in the pile. How are you going to excite that person?

Writing about money can offer a bit of voyeuristic thrill in this regard, but it also poses its own particular challenges. “Most of my students are absolutely brilliant,” said Mr. Bauld, a high school English teacher at Horace Mann School in New York City and a former admissions officer at Columbia and Brown. “But they cannot see their own relationship to economic culture. It’s not comprehensible.”

The more affluent ones, if they do understand it, struggle further when trying to put it into words. “When it becomes visible, it comes accompanied with a U-Haul full of guilt that they’re towing behind them,” he said. “Then, it forces them into various clichés.”

Twitter: @ronlieber

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/your-money/an-invitation-to-high-school-seniors-to-write-about-cash.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Your Money: An Invitation to High School Seniors to Write About Cash

At Pitzer College, a student used the example of the Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff to take a philosophical look at how much money people truly need to be happy.

As the economy has suffered in recent years and college costs have risen, high school seniors have grappled with the fallout in their own families and channeled their feelings into an increasing number of memorable college application essays about sacrifice, social policy and affluence or its opposite. “Students never used to write about this stuff,” said Angel Pérez, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Pitzer. “I think there is this new consciousness. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

Given the Your Money team’s long-standing endorsement of raising the financial consciousness of the younger set, we wanted to see these writings for ourselves. So we’re asking high school seniors who are applying for college this year to send us application essays that have anything at all to do with money, working, class, the economy and affluence (or lack thereof). We’ll read them all and publish the best on our Bucks personal finance blog.

There is more on our editorial criteria and the logistics down below, but if you’re trying to figure out what counts as a money essay, think broadly, as many applicants have in recent years. “An essay ought to try to fill in the gaps, to tell us things that we don’t know about you,” said Erica Sanders, managing director of the office of undergraduate admissions at the University of Michigan.

Your guidance counselor and teachers who are writing letters of support for your application may not know about or think to write about your family’s financial status, good or bad. “Maybe a parent had to move out of town for work, and the student writes about taking on more responsibility, that it allowed them to take on more leadership and to contribute to their family in a way that they didn’t even know was possible,” she added, echoing essays she’s read in recent years.

Even if your family has not struggled or become fabulously wealthy, an essay about your part-time job certainly qualifies. “Many of our engineering students will talk about building something and the costs of putting it together,” Ms. Sanders said.

Aside from the Madoff essay, Mr. Perez has read other Pitzer applicant essays and had other conversations with applicants about money and the economy in recent years that have stuck with him. “One student last year was very affected by the whole conversation about the 1 percent,” he said. “He sent us his proposal for the tax code. The committee thought that this is someone who is clearly thinking about this in a critical way, is informed about what is going on the world and has done some dissecting of the information, and that’s the kind of student we’re looking for.”

The college essay is always a bit of a high-wire act. Harry Bauld, the author of “On Writing the College Application Essay,” which I credit with helping me get into college, paints a visceral, frightening picture of haggard admissions officers reading dozens of essays each day. Then, he asks readers to imagine that their application is 38th in the pile. How are you going to excite that person?

Writing about money can offer a bit of voyeuristic thrill in this regard, but it also poses its own particular challenges. “Most of my students are absolutely brilliant,” said Mr. Bauld, a high school English teacher at Horace Mann in New York and a former admissions officer at Columbia and Brown. “But they cannot see their own relationship to economic culture. It’s not comprehensible.”

The more affluent ones, if they do understand it, struggle further when trying to put it into words. “When it becomes visible, it comes accompanied with a U-Haul full of guilt that they’re towing behind them,” he said. “Then, it forces them into various clichés.”

Twitter: @ronlieber

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/your-money/an-invitation-to-high-school-seniors-to-write-about-cash.html?partner=rss&emc=rss