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College Essay Mayhem: Weirdest College Essays by the Class of 2019


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BY KATE OVERBEY

As the season of college acceptances approaches, seniors look back on the college essay process, while juniors dread upcoming applications. Some seniors this year were surprised by some out-of-the-box prompts. Here are some of the 6 most interesting college essay prompts served to seniors.

1. Stephanie Frey: How are you doing and what are you thinking?

Stephanie Frey, upon seeing the South Carolina Honors College prompt, simply stared. Frey was presented with a unique challenge: answer a mundane question, one that is usually answered in a word or two, with 600.

“My prompts were ‘How are you doing and what are you thinking?’ Minimum of 600 words,” she said.

For her first essay, saying how she was doing, Frey discussed her recent interests, highlighting her new passion for politics and government since turning 18.  For her second prompt, ideas didn’t flow quite so easily.

“For ‘how are you doing’, it was just, bad. I just talked about my senior year,” said Frey. “Because [the prompt] was so vague, it was hard to write that much.”

She only has two pieces of advice for the underclassmen facing prompts like hers in the coming years- “Start them early and get help from teachers. Ms. Reilly helped me with [my essays] a lot.

2. Anna Scheeser: What is a hashtag that describes you?

Scheeser, sporting a “hot mess” tag, begins brainstorming for her next few scholarship essays. (PHOTO BY OVERBEY)

As many teenagers can relate to, Anna Scheeser was served a social media reference by people who don’t understand social media. In her application to the University of Southern California, Scheeser was asked to pick a hashtag that describes her. “I just stared at it, and thought what am I supposed to write for that?” she said.

Scheeser decided on #anxietea because anxiety is a large part of who she is and she loves tea. For questions such as these, it’s not an essay, but a short answer. Scheeser found this difficult, saying “You couldn’t explain your choice, it was just your choice.”

Her only advice to anyone else writing application essays-“Don’t lie. Don’t say New York Times is your favorite website if its not. Be honest, but to a degree. Show yourself off, but truthfully.”

3. Abbey Falknor: What four people, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner? What would they discuss?

Falknor hopes to finish this essay soon, as she is only waiting for a stroke of inspiration.
(PHOTO BY OVERBEY)

 

In an essay for Belmont Honors College,  Abbey Falknor had to choose any four people living or dead for a friendly dinner party, including the issues they would discuss and sample dialogue if she’d like. At the time of the interview, Falknor had
not yet completed the essay.

Seniors sitting around began shouting out their own suggestions. “Jesus and Zac Efron,” Frey suggests. Falknor piped in, “I know I’m going to write about Bob Goff but I don’t know who else.”

As a passage of wisdom, Falknor encourages younger grades to not get discouraged when writing college essays. “There will be lots of revision; your first essay is not going to be perfect.”

4. Sarah Forbes: What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Like many hopeful college students, Sarah Forbes was faced with a sometimes painful essay prompt. For UC, Forbes was instructed to write about the biggest hardship in her life, specific obstacles, and how she overcame it.

“The problem was they only gave me 250 words. I had to be really broad about what the obstacle was, then conclude it,” Forbes said. “It was not a good essay. But it was the best I could, just because the word count was so small.”

Forbes chose to write about reconnecting with previous friendships after a breakup, and how she struggled with coming out of her shell.

She also has advice for the underclassmen- “Get all of your thoughts down, before you start writing your essay, and pick one and run with it. When you are done writing, then give it to a couple people to help you pare it down,” said Forbes. “When you write with word count in mind, your only thought is how to fit into their box, instead of adopting the box they’ve given you, and making it your own.”

5. Olivia Walker: What is the title of your life up to now?

Walker works from her mentor, Mr. Becksfort’s, chair after receiving advice on her essays. (PHOTO BY OVERBEY)

The worst part of writing a piece of work is coming up with a title. Senior Olivia Walker had to do exactly that — put a name on her whole life. In one of her essays to Emerson College, she had 250 words to title the story of her life up to now and explain why. Walker chose to discuss her life as Escaping the Bubble.

“Mariemont’s a bubble and I’m excited to get out,” said Walker. “It was difficult because I had to think about what I wanted to title my life, but once I decided, it was easy.”

Walker has some advice for college essays, or any essay. “Brainstorm lots of ideas, read the prompt and just start word-vomit typing until you get an actual idea, then the writing will be easy,” she said.

6. Frances Harrington: Write a letter to an inanimate object and explain its importance to you.

“I can’t remember anything I’ve said in the past 10 years,” senior Frances Harrington begins. “It made my college essay very hard to write.”

Harrington applied to the University of Chicago, a college notorious for its strange prompts. The prompt she chose was to write a letter to an inanimate object.

“I chose to write to a playset play set in my backyard that is related to my childhood, and reflected on emotion and childhood,” said Harrington. “UChicago essay was difficult because I had to choose something that had emotions attached to it.”

Whether a hypothetical dinner party or a letter to an inanimate object, these six seniors certainly had some weird college essays. Good luck to them in the coming months of decisions.

 

 

 

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