Common-App Essay Writers: Here's a question for you ...


What are you curious about?

Try carrying this question around with you. You are curious, and you are curious in particular ways. (I don't mean that you are curious — as in, unusual — but, actually, let's hope you are!) Whenever an answer to this question comes to your mind, ask yourself, honestly, why you are curious, and in what ways, specifically. And then: How long have you been curious about this subject, this design or mechanism, this historical fact, this human tendency — whatever it is? What have you done or what do you do about this curiosity of yours? How does this particular curiosity relate to skills or achievements or endeavors or rituals or habits or common wonderings of yours? 

To practice such self-questioning is a good lesson we can draw from the recent wide attention and loud congratulations to Kwasi Enin for his admittance to each of the eight Ivy League schools. There's often something revealingly authentic about one's curiosity, and as you know, college admissions officers want to read the authentic essay.

Consider what Elizabeth Benedict writes in The Huffington Post:

[I]t's not a secret that those who decide who gets into Ivy League schools are not just looking at grades and SATs. There are far too many students with perfect grades and perfect scores to choose from -- and many other considerations, including legacy students, athletic recruits, children of those who have donated large sums of money, students who do not need financial aid (international applicants among them), the need to balance geography and student interests (you don't want a school that's all economics majors and all violin players), and an increasing interest in making college classes look like more the world we live in. Brown University announced this year that 18 percent of the students it accepted are first generation college students.

There are simply not enough places at these few schools for all the students with perfect grades and perfect scores....

It is necessary to have good grades and high SATs for admission, and often a lot of AP courses, and extra curricular activities in abundance -- but in 2014, it is no longer sufficient for these schools. But you might be asking, what else is there that a high school student has to show? How about these? Intellectual curiosity. The ability -- the hunger -- to translate the lessons of one subject to other subjects. A craving for knowledge.

It's worth reading Benedict's article to learn about and from Enin's intellectual curiosity, described in a published draft of the second paragraph of his college-application essay.