500 Very Important Words

Applying to college has changed completely since I was in high school. The internet has opened up a whole new world to students, and the “Common Application” website makes applying to college a lot easier for many. Not all colleges and universities use the common application, and I’m pretty sure state schools do not. Applying to member liberal arts college or private universities is a lot easier. Students are applying to far more colleges than ever because the “Common App” has made it so easy, and yet students can only pick one in the end. It’s causing some backlogs in the system, and we were counseled to just apply to six or nine schools, not twenty.

Twenty? I applied to three. I’m trying to remember my application process, but my memory is pretty dang hazy on the whole thing. I wanted to go to Barnard in New York, but this was in the 80’s. Remember what New York City was like in the 80’s? My parents flat out refused to let me apply. Since I was going to college on their dime, I stuck to West Coast options. I remember having just one interview and was accepted at the three schools I applied, but I honestly can not remember anything about an essay let alone the topic. I probably had to write one, but it’s…gone…just *pooft*. A couple of decades can wipe away a lot of details.

The whole process is living large in our household right now. Some of the college applications are due on Saturday. There is no denying the fact that there is a lot of pressure on writing a really good essay. In a sea of numbers, the essay is the one truly unique factor in the application. I cut off part of the instructions on my little picture above, but it tells applicants to write 250-500 words on the question of their choice from the list below. It’s an exercise in wordsmithing that I would find tricky. ONLY 250-500 words? I spent four years in college learning how to write pithy seven word advertising slogans. I tend toward a lack of words in my writing. Am dinged constantly for not saying enough. And, all I can think when I look at that is, “wow…ONLY 500 words? Really?”

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