In this lesson, our instructor Rebekah Hendershot gives an introduction to competitive schools. She explains how they're similar in terms of qualities they look for and essay questions. She advises how and when to gush in your essay.
First things firstcalm down! These schools are looking for the same things regular schools are looking for (preparation, talent, and fit), theyre asking the same kinds of questions (experience, influence, analysis, explanation, “what if?”), and theyre looking for the same kinds of answers.
However, there are differences.
These schools are high-pressure environments. The application process is more stressful. You are being tested to see if you can handle that stress. If you freak out over the application, you may not be able to handle finals at MIT. What do you do? Relaxwhatever it takes. Remember that its just a form, and that someone is trying to scare you. Dont let them get away with it!
These schools have large applicant pools. You are competing against a bigger group of prospective students. What do you do? Remember youve already got what it takes. If you have the necessary preparation, talent, and fit, you can write a good essay even if youve never performed emergency brain surgery or invented time travel. Relax, choose your subject carefully, and write welland youll already be ahead of the curve.
Its natural to want to gush in an essay for your dream schoolto write about how much you love the place and want to go there.
Go with that instinct. Everyone else will be writing about those feelings, and youll sound strange if you dont.
However, dont make up stories about how qualified you are or how many of your relatives have attended the school. If anyone checks your fake story, youre in trouble.
Remember these schools are like the popular kids in high schoolyoull do better by being yourself than by faking perfection. If youre really who theyre looking for (and you must think you are, or you wouldnt be applying), they will come to you.
When in doubt:
Remember that these schools are looking for the same qualities other schools are looking forand theyre using the same kinds of questions to find them.
Acknowledge that youre under stress, and in a competitive environment.
Then take a deep breath and do your best anyway.
Be excited about your school, but dont make things up just to get in.
Remember that these schools are the academic equivalent of the popular kidswith all that implies.
Read, read, read. (Itll improve your writing.)
Relax and have a little fun!
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