For many people, the college essay is the hardest part of their application, as they seek to define themselves in 500 words or less for a faceless committee of admissions officers. The Columbia Class of 2017, though, has given us an inside look at what exactly it takes to be part of the 6.89 percent to win entry to the school this year. A tipster recently directed us to a Google Drive folder in which newly admitted Columbians are posting their application essays for their peers to see. And, thankfully, they left it public.
Topics range from the deeply personal, to the seemingly mundane, to the blatantly ridiculous. We’ve included a list of some of the more notable entries below; feel free to categorize them yourself:
- The sub-prime mortgage crisis, told as a tortoise and hare allegory (“There are regulators at every mile to ensure the hare plays by the rules established by the Security Enforcement Commission.”)
- Sketching a nude model for the first time (“As the model stepped out of her robe, I felt unsettled and self-conscious. I was scared. Where was I supposed to look? Was I ready for this?”)
- Arrested Development getting renewed (“So ‘Arrested Development’ is the epitome of all things—good, bad, or ironic—coming to inevitable conclusions.”)
- Imagining literary lunch dates with fictional characters (“Generally, my peers don’t understand my compulsion to inhabit the worlds I read, or my overactive imagination’s ability to project those worlds into its own reality.”)
However, some of the essays deserve a closer examination. Here are our personal favorites:
The IvyGate award for “Most Original Essay (For Better Or Worse)” goes to a mock script of a conversation between the applicant, musical theater heavyweight Oscar Hammerstein II (Columbia Class of 1919), and composer Tom Kitt (Columbia Class of 1996). The alums lead our author on a journey of self-discovery as he finds that, yes, he should pursue his dreams and doggone it, people like him. Here are the opening lines, which subtly set the scene for the author’s insecurity:
Hammerstein: Ok, kid. You’ve seen the school. Now what?
Noah: (HE knew this was coming) I—I really don’t know…Major in Drama and
Psychology or choose something safe…Economics?
Kitt: (Bombastic as always) Oh cut the crap, why don’t ya? You worked your ass off for years to get to this point, and now you finally have; if you get in, you’d have all the resources you could possibly want—
Noah: (Frantically) BUT, I don’t know how to use them. I don’t know how to use them or what to do with them. Musical Theater is my life; I love it more than anything else I’ve ever done. To be up on the stage—the songs—the emotion…but as a career?
Hammerstein: Kid, breathe. Pursue it.
Noah: But that’s easier said than done! It’s just so—so…
Kitt: (Like the Hindenburg, exploding) Christ! SPIT IT OUT!
Noah: …Hard. Read the rest of this entry »