Demystifying the College Admission Essay Genre
Date: December 2, 2012
Summary: Jessica Singer Early and Meredith DeCosta's Real World Writing for Secondary Students presents a writing workshop for ethnically and linguistically diverse high school students, where students receive instruction on specific genre features of the college admission essay. In this chapter, the authors offer an overview of the college admission essay genre, key components of the college admission essay workshop, student writing samples, and professional resources for teaching the college admission essay.
Excerpt from Chapter
The Importance of the College Admission Essay
The college admission essay, personal statements, application letters, and other similar writing tasks hold a great deal of power. However, as with so many writing genres students encounter in their transition from high school to college and from college to the workplace, an air of mystery prevails. As reading skills and literary analysis become increasingly important in the classroom due to high-stakes testing, many students are not provided opportunities to engage in writing tasks that are of any substance, depth, or complexity (Applebee & Langer, 2009). This is disconcerting for students who aspire to attend college and will encounter challenging and complex writing tasks in their college courses, as well as for those students who want solid-paying jobs with high literacy demands (American Diploma Project, 2004).
What is even more concerning is that low-income, second language, and ethnic minorities often miss out on these rich writing opportunities and are more likely to be exposed to skill and drill learning in the classroom due to issues of sorting and tracking as well as ongoing political pressures and scripted curriculum (Kohn, 1999; Oakes & Wells, 1998). Rather than engaging in a rich curriculum that helps them become productive members of the community and find success in college, the workplace, and beyond, far too many ethnically and linguistically diverse youth are immersed in remediated curriculum that is designed to help them perform well on standardized tests. However, engaging in gate-opening writing tasks helps students begin to understand how these tasks function both rhetorically and socially, and provides them with a form of currency that they may use to access and participate in various institutions of power, including universities, businesses, and community organizations. . . . "
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Related Resource Topics
The College Essay
With each passing year, the genre of the College Acceptance Essay evolves due to the increasing competition among applicants. Each new generation of students looks to surpass the last class, analyzing essay samples and sculpting their own techniques. By figuring out what to do and what not to do, the genre transforms, leaving the bad ideas behind and absorbing the newest, most creative ideas.
Additionally, the College Essay itself has effectively created even more sub genres in itself by allowing students to think outside the box and stray away from the traditional paragraph writing style. The most prevalent essay types seem to be either a normally structured essay, or a creative outside the box essay.
The Purpose of the College Essay
As technology has advanced throughout the course of the development of academic institutions, the manners in which students have succeeded in achieving their goal of acceptance has also changed. Many will tell you, “Admission Boards get tired of weeding through thousands of boring essays every day, you need to do something to stand out!”. Though this is true now, how long did it take to get to this point? There had to have been many groups of initial applicants in which the content of their essays mattered less than say their grammar or punctuation. But as the years went on, the genre itself eroded into, “Who has the most interesting and original content?”.
It is a wonder to delve into the Theory of Genre, yet amazing how complex certain topics can be given we give them the time of day.