Tutor profile: Natalie O.
Where do I even begin with writing a college application essay? How am I supposed to condense myself into a 500 word margin? What are they looking for?
This is a question thousands of students ask themselves every college application cycle. While I have much to share on the best tips and practices to make your application essays stand out to College Admissions, my biggest tip is to be unconventional. Have a VOICE. Think about it, if you were a College Admissions Counselor, by about the thousandth essay, you'd probably be pretty tired of reading the same answers to the same prompts. My biggest advice to students is to write about something truly unique or take a creative approach to an otherwise straightforward prompt. If you can really catch the attention of your reader, you've already achieved half the battle. I have so much more guidance on how to do that but I guess you'll just have to reach out to learn more! :)
When tutoring students in the past on how to create a unique thesis or argument for a paper, they often struggle to find a perspective on the work that hasn't already been exhausted by critics. "If Shakespeare's work has been around for 400 years, how am I supposed to come up with an idea that hasn't already been shared?" What is the response to this predicament?
This is an issue I've often encountered in my own studies. Sometimes, it's not always about creating an entirely new and previously undiscovered view on the work. Sometimes, it's providing a critique on a commonly shared view or poking holes in widely accepted arguments. Perhaps it's about bringing to light new evidence or relating different arguments to each-other. Sometimes, we can discover new findings by putting different works in conversation with each-other. In other words, the most important part is bringing something new to the conversation, whether that be a critique, support, or suggestion of alternate ideas.
As English scholars, we often encounter the question from skeptics, "What's the point of studying English and the works of 'dead white men'? What does it matter?" What would be the response to that question?
To me, English is a unique glimpse of shared human experience that especially within recent scholarship has evolved to include historically marginalized groups into its narrative. It is having an understanding of the origins of democracy, culture, and society that shape much of our Western world and viewing with a critical eye its shortcomings that we see echoed throughout our daily lives. It is the knowledge that the voices of the past reverberate into the future, sometimes with greater tenacity than before, and the hope that our own voices will also transcend the limits of our communities and our lives. English reminds us that despite the distance of time, the individuals who precede us are not all that dissimilar to ourselves. With this knowledge and mastery, we can each find our unique voice and the means to successfully communicate it.
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