November 19, 2021
It’s the college admissions time of the year, and we’re going through it for the third time at our house… What a frog march across the fire and brimstone of paperwork hell.
Colleges want your child to amass a towering inferno of recommendations, records, report cards, testimonials, test scores, teachers’ fulsome praises, questions to answer, questionnaires to fill out, and queries of the kind that are nobody’s business. (Plus, details about participation in the student program that cured malaria in Southeast Asia over summer break.)
All this at an age when your child’s organizational abilities are severely tested by putting dirty socks in the laundry hamper.
So you, the parent, end up doing most of the work (including picking up the socks).
But there’s one thing buried in the pile of almost every college’s application forms that your kid has to do personally. This is the essay asking the student for the student’s particular reasons for applying to this particular college.
It has to be written in a high school senior’s voice – something that few of us actual seniors can summon. An adult hand in the composition would be painfully obvious, detectable by even the lowest-ranking admissions demon tasked with reading this junk.
We grown-ups know that the response must contain bullshit… But we’re not hip to the exact type of bullshit it should contain. Specific bullshit terms and concepts have changed with the times.
I mean, I don’t even know if “making the world a better place” is a thing anymore. Would “3 Days of Peace & Music” go down as well today as it did at Woodstock in 1969? We adults, trying to bullshit a college-admissions committee, might find ourselves wondering along with Elvis Costello, “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding” And Band Aid asking about Africans, “Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?” would be certain to offend all sorts of people these days.
A new system shows which stocks could soon rise 100% thanks to a Connecticut couple’s catastrophic 401(k) loss.
So the kids are on their own with this part of the college application.
It was several years ago, as we were making our first trudge through admissions Hades, when our eldest daughter pointed out the idiocy of the “Why I Want To Go…” essay.
“Dad,” she said, “should I just come right out and tell them, ‘Because your school colors coordinate well with my wardrobe’?”
She resisted the temptation – and got into the school of her choice. But the idea has been in my mind ever since. What if a kid wrote an honest answer?
An Honest College Admissions Essay
‘Why I Want To Go to Paymoore University’
To Whom or They or Xem It May Concern (because I see from your brochure that Paymoore embraces diversity of every kind, including gender fluidity, and although I – he/him/me – am myself a cisgender male, I don’t care if other guys flounce around the dorm dressed like Princess Leia):
My two main reasons for choosing Paymoore University are 1.) I can get in. And 2.) My parents can – almost – afford it.
Please do not take offense at my first reason. According to U.S. News and World Report, your academic rating is dismal. But mine’s not so hot either. Like every kid my age, I will be majoring in something to do with climate change. But don’t worry, I do not intend to take any of the difficult science-type courses in this subject, so do not hire any famous high-priced science professors on my account. I will be taking the kind of classes where you sit around and talk about how bad Climate Change is and get a B for showing up. My Dad says, “A students work for B students.” And my uncle, who is a very successful hedge-fund manager says, “Nonsense! B students work for C students – A students teach.”
As for my second reason, your tuition is absurdly high, but Dad says he’s willing to keep driving his 2020 Lexus for a couple more years. Also, he is an investment banker, and if this GE corporate breakup goes like it’s supposed to, you may wind up with a gym with our family name on it (or a library – your choice, though a gym seems more in the Paymoore spirit).
Which brings me to another of the many other reasons I’d like to attend Paymoore. Great basketball team! I’m betting (literally betting… on my older brother’s DraftKings account) that you’ll make the NCAA Final Four. That is, if the NBA doesn’t get all your sophomores. Of course, your football program needs some work. But during my campus tour, almost every student I talked to said the tailgate scene was fantastic, even if the team wasn’t very good. They said Paymoore’s football slogan is “We Pre-Game Harder Than You Party!”
Something else mentioned by many current Paymoore students was the large number of bars conveniently located close to campus. Of course, since the legal drinking age is 21, I’m not saying that I would go to one of those bars. But it was interesting to hear how the people who check IDs at the bar doors are so nearsighted or otherwise visually impaired, and it made me wonder if perhaps you would like my Dad to found a college of ophthalmology at Paymoore if the GE deal goes through.
I also noticed on my campus tour that there are a lot of pretty girls women of youth at Paymoore. And I feel confident that you won’t take this as a sexist or heterocentric statement because so many of those attractive persons of the female gender are featured in your brochure photographs.
And one more reason Paymoore is my first choice for college is that your campus is located about as far away from my parents as I can get without going to American University in Dubai. Not that I have issues with my parents. Unless “Issues With Parents” earns extra points for Paymoore applicants, in which case I can list them on a separate sheet of paper.
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