The Raw Materials of Summer . . . . PRICELESS !
Heading out to summer vacations, jobs, and camps? Take a notebook! I’m directing this to anyone applying to college or graduate schools this fall. Why? Because the raw materials of summer are priceless when you sit down to write those all-important essays for admission applications. In colleges’ increasing effort to select students who are “a good fit”, essays have become more important than ever. Admissions readers want to see, feel, and taste the tension, joy, or challenges you have faced. What you have learned gives them a glimpse of your potential. What you have to work with is the description, the rhythm, the emotion of words to achieve this.
Last summer, a client spent 8 weeks as a counselor for autistic girls at a sleepaway camp in Vermont. As a new neurology graduate of Duke, she was applying to medical schools. During a Skype session, she was clearly concerned as she told me how one of her six campers was unpredictable at meals and often required two hours of individual, calming care at bedtime. But she persisted, and the ultimate story of her breakthrough to gain the child’s trust was riveting showing remarkable tenacity, empathy and quick thinking during crises.
An equally compelling essay developed from the notes of a high school lifeguard who recounted his thoughts during endless hours counting heads in a lake, making sure none disappeared. None ever did, but his chair musings on math, bathers’ behavior and bravery “at the ready” were hilariously creative revealing powerful observation and wit.
Both clients had taken summer notes.
Colleges want to know who you are uniquely as a person. They crave visual examples with positive points that are clear, and the details are never clearer than the day they happen!
So if you swim across a lake for the first time, drop a tray of dishes as a busboy, or even suffer a boring bus ride from Lansing to Leelanau, take a few moments to write down what you were thinking. The thrill, the pain, the embarrassment, the doubts . . . all count!
Record just a couple notes per night, no more, or the task will become too much and you’ll quit. Or just tell mom on the phone, and get her to write it down. She’ll love it. Post It notes on the frig? Still primo! You’ll be thankful you did. Have fun guys!
Copyright 2016 by Janis Murray
All rights reserved.