Summary Of James Warren The Rhetoric Of College Application Questions

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Title : The Answers to All of Your Questions The college application process is one of the hardest parts of a high school career. The stress of applying to college, on top of all of the work that seniors are expected to do in class, can be overwhelming for some. Nervous breakdowns, sleep issues, isolation, none of these are unheard of. Part of the problem is the importance placed on being accepted into the best possible college. Students (and their parents) pressure themselves to apply to the top schools, creating a toxic culture that values over-achievement and pushing oneself to the limits, with a focus on prestige on all else. This race for prestige increases applications to the top schools, decreasing their acceptance rates, which…show more content…
Here, unfortunately, is where the answers get more complex. Colleges often give advice along the lines of “just be yourself”, which isn’t really helpful. Not only do they give out bad advice, but the questions colleges ask can often be misleading. In fact, most students answer these prompts incorrectly. James Warren, in his paper The Rhetoric of College Application Essays, discusses the hidden nature of these prompts. He argues that “the essays actually function as arguments”, (44) even though they ask for personal narratives. Now you may ask “How on Earth an I supposed to let the colleges know who I am, and argue to be let in at the same time?” This type of writing is never learned in school. In truth it’s more about a balance of narrative to analysis. The analysis is where your argument comes into play. By articulating why what you discussed is important or meaningful, you can argue subtly that you have traits (or anything else really) that they want on their campus. However, the way you go around writing the essay also has a big impact on the way that admissions officers will read it. To put it simply, don’t try and write like someone else. Be true to your own voice. Colleges read thousands of essays every year, and so no topic can ever really be “unique”. On top of this, some of the topics that would be most impactful on a high schooler’s life, moving, parent’s divorce, death of a family member etc., have been discussed by professional authors in books well over five hundred pages long (with varying success). You only have six hundred and fifty words. The way you talk should be the way you write (however there are no excuses for bad grammar etc., as colleges do want to get a sense of your writing ability). You need to make the reader like you. At least a little bit. Nobody is going to admit somebody that they really don’t like, no matter how good your academics or extracurriculars
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