50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays.

A: Topics that deal with personal tragedy are difficult. Frequently the
students are not far enough away from the event to write about it with
any distance. They’re not really telling a story. The essay is either a factual narration or therapeutic. I would be very wary of writing about a
really serious, heavy topic. It can be done, but I think that the rule of
thumb should be if the topic is still sensitive enough that you might
wince a little bit, tear up, or cringe, maybe it’s not a good topic. If you
can talk about the event and maybe even have a sense of humor about
it, that’s a sign you’re far enough away from it. Of course that doesn’t
mean you have to write about it with humor.
Q: How important is the essay?
A: There was at least one student where the essay was very significant.
I fell in love with this student because of his essay, and I wanted him
to go to Yale. I thought he would add so much to the school, but one
of his SAT scores was weak. It’s so competitive that if there’s one chink
in the armor, that can end it. I could’ve passed over him and no one
would’ve objected, but I made such a case for this student. I fought for
him, and he got in. However, it can’t just be on the basis of the essay
alone. His teachers also really loved him and thought he walked on
water. There has to be some r