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UPenn Supplement: The Dreaded Page 217/300


IndoodPossible 2 / 3  
Dec 28, 2009   #1
Hiya! This essay is part of my application for UPenn. At the moment, I'm vacillating between this and a brief glimpse into my fictional future as a UPenn graduate.

OPTIONAL (Truly) <-- Yeah, right.

4. You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217.

Chapter 8: Regular Joe Blues
Having decided to write the "optional" essay for the University of Pennsylvania-is anything truly optional in this situation?-I took my throne that was the cushioned dining chair in front of my computer.

I've always dreaded the kind of essay that asks you to "express" yourself. Express, in the enigmatic tongue of college application-ese, is about synonymous to "sing virtues about" or "exalt". The problem? I wasn't like one of those "superstudent by day, superhero by night" types! I would be the same person regardless of whether the sun was up, down, or being a supermassive black hole's midnight snack.

To put it in less florid prose, I didn't see anything worth mentioning in myself.

Then doubt reared its ugly head. Was it this way for every applicant? Certainly, there were the few that had actually done something worthwhile in their short lives, but what about the rest of us? Was I in the face of the same brick wall as thousands before me?

But then it struck me. Or, painfully extending the brick wall metaphor from a paragraph ago, I struck it. If the league of super-villains that is the admissions office actually wants someone unique, then why not demonstrate my originality with a meta-essay? Write an essay about writing my essay!

It's original!

It's avant-garde!

It's the easy way out!

It's stupid!

Who writes an essay about how they wrote an essay in lieu of something actually worthwhile?

Having exhausted the option of self-reference, I went back to brainstorming in hopes of writing something that would impress rather than stupefy.
LewisClark13 1 / 9  
Dec 28, 2009   #2
LOL I agree! Optional, yeah right. I had to do this too XP.

If your looking for topic ideas, why not pretend that you're in the future? Maybe just let your creativity flow!!

but if you want to keep this essay, here are some suggestions:

1.

Then doubt reared its ugly head

I think that this sentence is a bit cliche-ey. A better sentence would maybe be something to describe the doubt chewing away at your mind, or in short, something more descriptive.

2.

If the league of super-villains that is the admissions office

I don't know if calling the admissions people super-villians is the best idea. It could go badly LOL.

I actually liked the bit about not being the superstudent by day and superhero by night. Maybe you could instead write the page about how you WERE a superhero by night. It doesn't have to be true to the letter. I'm sure that the admissions people would like some creativity and they wouldn't mind if you stretched the truth and pretended that the event was some marvallous feat when in actuality, it wasn't.

Good luck! Please take a look at my essay too!
qomoco 24 / 107  
Dec 29, 2009   #3
I think this is the best one I have read lol...

I bet UChicago would like it, not sure about penn but you can give it a try
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Dec 29, 2009   #4
this is actually what it means truely optional, hundreds of kids get in every yr w/o writing this essay. Its optional because kids try forcing essays that they have no buisness writing every yr, and most of these stories people tell dont really do anything to enhance their application, there just stories, and adcoms dont know what to do w/o them, what it tells them about the applicant, there not bad stories, but they dont really make the applicant look any better, they dont highlight any accomplishments, they dont really do anything that would increase their chances at getting into college. I'd say try to write, espec. something that woudl highlight one of your charactersitics or accomplishments, but if your at the point where you are IndoodPossible, then yeah, dont write anything, your essay just kinda rehashes the point that the school has in making it optional, often times there just isnt anything really beneficial to write about.

Just my two cents, i dont wanna sound like a know it all but i remember talking to my counselor about this who knows alot about admissions, and thats what he told me, by forcing yourself to write, if it does come out bad or if it comes out as dull and uninformative, you actually hurt your application and the risk reward ratio there is not worth it. if your serious about keeping that essay and i have no idea if you are or if your just screwing around, i wouldnt, one thing you never wanna do is insult the prompt, its like insulting the school, its not original like it might seem to you to them, so no reason to add that kind of controversy to yourself, but whatever, good luck, everybody and i mean EVERYBODY is applying to penn this yr:)
OP IndoodPossible 2 / 3  
Dec 30, 2009   #5
Thanks for responding, folks!

Alright, I've come to the conclusion that it's probably better to edit this essay to be a little less biting towards the school and essay prompt; I'm intending to use it to exhibit the creativity that the other Common App/supplement essays couldn't show, so removal is not an option, but neither is shocking or angering the admissions council.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jan 4, 2010   #6
OPTIONAL (Truly) <-- Yeah, right.

Ha ha, yeah, because if admissions is at all competitive, you can't set yourself in a category with the students that did not bother with the optional essay. Weird... Do they actually write "optional (truly)"??

I don't know if calling the admissions people super-villians is the best idea.

LewisClark, you are totally a hero. I'm impressed with the great advice you gave, please check out the contributor page. I agree about the cliche, too.

It is also sort of cliche to write about the process of writing an admissions essay. For some reason, admissions readers often look down on anyone who tries to be clever by referring to the process of writing an admissions essay. "Don't refer to the essay in the essay," many people say, and I do not agree with them, but... we have to impress the admissions person... so... i thought I would mention this.

And yeah, it is not necessary to be so critical of them, ha ha! Revise, but keep up the brilliant writing. This really is good stuff.


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