Let Inga Tell You: How to know the ‘real’ college applicant

Let Inga Tell You


Friends whose son has already started on his college applications were bemoaning the process to us, knowing we have lived through it ourselves. It’s been a few years since our sons applied and I was curious to know if the essay topics had improved in the interim.

In a word: no.

Colleges always maintain that they want to know the “real” candidate but then hit them up with eye-glazing topics that are pretty much guaranteed to produce prose like “Team sports has taught me self-discipline and how to work with others” and “My trip to Europe made me realize that we are all one.”

I remember my younger son, Henri, who applied to a lot of essay-intensive schools, approaching his step-father, a reactor physics graduate from Cal Tech, hoping someone of Olof’s erudite background could provide some retrospective insights into “What do you hope to achieve in your four years of college?” My husband pondered the question for a moment before offering, “Grow facial hair and get laid?” Henri perked up immediately at the prospect. But didn’t dare use it.

If college admissions officers want to get to know the “real” candidate, they’ve got to ask the right questions. Topics that kids can really become impassioned about and which might also give college essay readers a reason to live. Here’s a few I might suggest:

    (1) Analyze the debris field on your bedroom floor. How does it reveal the real you?
    (2) Agree or disagree: There is absolutely nothing new anyone can say about The Great Gatsby.
    (3) Why texting, tweeting and other electronic communication should be allowed during class time, especially if the class is like, totally lame.
    (4) My night in a Tijuana jail: A lesson in diversity.
    (5) What things do you do that drive your parents craziest? Describe how you’ve fine-tuned them over the years.
    (6) Relate an incident where you were blamed for something that was so not your fault.
    (7) Influences that shaped your life: were there any?
    (8) Describe an evening with your favorite non-porn-star fictional character.
    (9) The top three excuses parents are likely to believe.
    (10) In 250 words or less, agree or disagree with this statement: people over 40 should not be allowed on Facebook.
    (11) Curfew: why I am so over it.
    (12) How ADHD explains my transcript, and that felony egging incident.
    (13) College: Is it over-rated?
    (14) Legalizing marijuana: like totally overdue, man.
    (15) What are the nicknames you and your siblings have for each other when no grownups are around? Regale us with the symbolism behind them.
    (16) How to survive a totally bad hair day.
    (17) iPhone apps I’d REALLY like to see.
    (18) Why I will totally be a better parent than mine are.
    (19) Party buses: the best thing to ever happen to under-age drinking.
    (20) Pole dancing as a varsity sport? Make your best case.
    (21) Should watching the movie be an acceptable alternative to reading the assigned book so long as the ending is kind of the same?
    (22) My favorite pharmaceutical and why.
    (23) Compare and contrast your favorite awards shows.
    (24 ) Like, whatever.
    (25) Despite what they say, my parents really WERE born yesterday.

Olof, however, points out that like everyone else, college admission folks have to be careful what they wish for. Because if they ask any of these questions, they will surely get it.

Related posts:

  1. Let Inga Tell You: Reflections on the summer our lemon biz went sour
  2. Let Inga Tell You: I’m looking for a cure for medical billing
  3. Let Inga Tell You: No way will Dr. No let us eat that
  4. Let Inga Tell You: I can explain the mathematics of chocolate
  5. Let Inga Tell You: Couples must plumb the depths of romance

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=2162

Posted by Staff on Sep 23, 2010. Filed under Columns, Let Inga Tell You, Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • ‘Downton Abbey’ Spring Tea to be held by Del Mar Community Connections April 18, 2014
    All things “Downton Abbey”— from ‘20s tunes to exotic teas — will be featured as Del Mar Community Connections holds its annual spring tea on Wednesday, April 23, at St. Peter’s Parish Hall, 324 14th St., Del Mar. The 2-4 p.m. event includes music from the “Downton” era performed by entertainers “Janet and Jay” and piano music provided by Lori Ritman, who al […]
  • Week in sports for Carmel Valley, Solana Beach and Del Mar April 18, 2014
    Cathedral Catholic extended its winning streak to 11 games as the Dons opened Western League play with a 7-2 victory over Patrick Henry on April 9. The victory followed a 7-4 nonleague win against Mater Dei Catholic two days earlier. Will Law had three hits including a home run and a double and drove in four runs to lead the Dons in the Patrick Henry game. […]
  • Man pleads guilty in fatal Del Mar hit-and-run case April 17, 2014
    A man who drove drunk and struck a marine biologist in a crosswalk in Del Mar, then fled the scene, pleaded guilty April 16 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a hit-and-run allegation. Christopher ``Chip’’ Stockmeyer, 41, faces between nine and 15 years in prison when he is sentenced June 20 for the March 28 death of Rachel Morrison. […]