December 11, 2009

College Application Essays

It's that time of year again!!!

Throughout the month of December, I frequently find plates of Christmas cookies on my doorstep. Attached to the plates of cookies are cranky high school seniors from my neighborhood who don't want help with their college applications, but whose mothers insist upon it.

Approximately six weeks ago, the guest of honor was a boy named Nick. He was applying to a private college with a low average SAT score and rolling admissions. His mom thought he was a shoe-in.

Nick's application required him to write a three-hundred word essay responding to the question "What is your greatest challenge?"

The first lines of Nick's essay read: "I have a problem with self-control. When I get mad, I hit things with sticks." The essay went on to catalog an extensive list of objects damaged by fallen branches and two-by-fours.

"You can't say this," I told Nick bluntly.

"But it's true!" he protested.

"They can't handle the truth," I responded.

"But my application is due tomorrow!" he whined.

"You will not get in if you say this," I warned, escorting him to the door. I wanted Nick out of my house before he hit me with a stick.

Yesterday, the thin envelope arrived in Nick's mailbox. Nick was almost jubilant, thus confirming my suspicions of self-sabotage. Nick's mother, on the other hand, burst into tears.

"I'm so sorry," I said, trying to console the woman. "I know you were hoping for a different outcome."

"It's all your fault, you know," the woman said half jokingly. "You made him rewrite that essay at the last minute."

That's when Nick revealed that at the eleventh hour, he had seen the light. Two hours before the application was due, he abandoned the stick story and submitted in its place a touching tale about a recent fist fight that cost him one of his front teeth.

"Wise choice," I noted.

Nick's mother's face turned bright red and she began to shake. Evidently, she was not aware of her son's essay topic.

"If I were you," I told Nick, "I would back away very slowly."

Once he had eased himself off my driveway, he began to run down the street.

21 comments

vanilla said...

What?-- is the best policy?

Kelli said...

Wow. Perhaps Mom should see to it that Nick applies for a school far, far away. If he were mine, I think I would! ;)

Too Many Hats said...

What are Nick's goals? Bumming off his parents for the rest of his life or bouncing from one friend's couch to another - you know they will each throw him out the minute he starts beating their cat or dog with a stick. Sounds like a very motivated young man.

Working Mommy said...

Yeah...sounds like Nick wasn't too interested in going to college to begin with - but was being pushed by mommy. Oh well!

~WM

Stephanie said...

That's HILARIOUS. I think the real problem in this story, though, is the parent. There is a girl in my ward who EVERY mother and father would love to have. Excels at everything, pleasant personality laurel class president, etc. etc. etc. But nothing is good enough for the mom, and sure enough....last year, around this time, mom was calling me and asking me to read/rewrite her daughter's application essays. Daughter was miserable. It was the perfect proof that mom was unhappy with her effort--AGAIN. I wish more parents understood that sometimes they need to BACK OFF. Let them learn choices and consequences and understand that it's OK to fail sometimes. If you push your kid into something they hate, they will fail no matter what!

OK. Rant finished. I feel better.

Emmy said...

Wow. All I can say is wow. And really glad Nick doesn't live by me.

Emz said...

Will the codependent mom please stand-up?! You are amazing to even try and help that one. ;)

Wonder Woman said...

You have the best stories. I adore you.

Michelle said...

Did this really happen? Because if so it is SO hilarious! I would love help high schoolers write college essays. You have a great job!

Cathryn said...

My senior son wants a haircut today and I told him I would do it when he gets 5 pages of math done...so far he has 10 numbers written on the top of a page after an hour an a half.
Oh don't be too hard on him he was hungry and then had to poop, and I'm sure it takes all his brain cells to bite his fingernails as diligently as he does...otherwise he is a great kid, when he isn't awake.

Par for the course, teenagers are hell from 17 to 21, then you want to be related to them again. So far for me it's worked that way, I'm on #2 of 6---wish me luck!

Danielle said...

So funny. I needed that.

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

Sad thing is, is that I believe every word of this story. I know these senior boys. I work with them every day. Of course, rarely do one of my senior boys with a g.p.a. of 1.7 and ACT score of 12 actually apply for a college.

The difference between the East and the West - acceptance of their fate in life. My students are going to be tattoo artists and successful entrepreneurs.

Benigna Torviso-Marko said...

Mommie knows best. Good luck.
Our neighbor told us about your blog and just had to check it out. This is great.
Benigna Marko

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

I actually laughed out loud at this. Not the LOL text version, but really laughed. Thanks for that. You are hysterical.

Britt said...

I am about to beat my son with a stick TO DO his essay. Same topic. Life has been to easy for him so he is having a hard time writting about his biggest challenge. Any suggestions to:1. for a topic? or 2. what challenge I can inflict upon him that he could write about to get in? lolol
Oh they joys of these essays.

Sugar said...

I'm with Wonder Woman. You're hilarious! Just found you a couple of weeks ago and have been laughing ever since! Thanks for taking time out of your busy scheudule to enlighten your loyal readers. Hope you're having a great holiday season so far! Enjoy the many cookies I'm sure are soon to come!
Sugar in New Orleans

Lissa said...

Read this to my hubby (who is in Grad school at BYU) and he DIED laughing! Very enjoyable! Too bad for his mom...

Karen said...

I made the mistake with my first son of thinking he was mature enough to write his essay and get it into the mail on time. It was a wild ride to the post office at midnight to get the thing in before the deadline.

ajm said...

Oh, man! I would love to read that essay if I were the admissions person though! I'm sure it was a stand-out . . .

Sarah King said...

BaaaHaaaHaaaHaaa, Thank you, this story just made my morning!

Sharis said...

I work at a college and this post cracked me up!