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August 23, 2006

-- Hurricane Journal --

Applying yourself to college applications

By Michel Lee

Turlock, CA, Aug. 23, 2006 With college application deadlines for the class of 2011 rounding the corner, many high school seniors are doing an awful lot of soul-searching.

Click Here   Michel Lee in front of her dorm, Matthews Hall, on a breezy day.

Perhaps for the will they'll write before they receive the rejection from Princeton, or to figure what their true purpose in life will be AFTER they get into their university of choice. High school IS all about getting into a good college, right?

Me? Well, I guess I'm a step behind. To my horror, I've discovered that both Harvard AND Yale require application supplements involving an extra essay.

I've never had that superhuman skill for cramming my entire personality into a 500-word statement, so this poses quite a dilemma for me. There are so many things I enjoy and dislike, so many ways that I could portray myself, that just the thought of writing the essay makes my head spin.

Who gets into Harvard these days, anyway? And what do they write? Before this summer, I imagined Harvardians to be literary scholars, Noam Chomskys and Joyce Carol Oates' and Thoreauvians in their own right. They would spend hours poring over dense texts and musing about the meaning of life in elite symposiums. College application essays, well, that would be like their free-write the dainty appetizer before the burrito grande.

While in Cambridge, I happened upon a copy of a little book containing successful application essays by people who got into Harvard. I was duly impressed, but also pleasantly surprised to find that the level of the sample essays was within my meager ability. Upon further investigation (Facebook!), I discovered that the venerated authors of the said documents were actually, *gasp,* human.

In fact, as the summer passed and I became personally acquainted with some Ivy-Leaguers, I realized that there is no large ocean of difference between those who are deemed acceptable and those rejected by the Admissions Office.

The mythical conception of the Harvardian was quickly replaced by a fun-loving, bright student.

I'm one step closer to approaching the computer and typing up that college application essay. Still, my experience at Harvard has done little to quell my apprehension at having to write about myself, nonetheless something captivating and unique.

In a way, I think the college admissions process is flawed.

It is nearly impossible to accurately capture oneself in 12-font Times New Roman to begin with, and it's even more difficult if one doesn't have a knack for writing.

I think more soul-searching is in order. I'll let you know when I come up with something profound.


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