Over the past decade, College Essay Advisors has helped a wealth of international students pen essays that set their applications apart from the rest. Our international student pool has included applicants from China, Hong Kong, Brasil, India and many other locations all over the world. Our Chinese students in particular have told us of the increased pressure to gain acceptance into American schools, as evidenced by scandals such as the one reported by the CNN.com just a few weeks ago.
According to the article, “admissions officers say as many as one in 10 applications to U.S. colleges by Chinese students may include fraudulent material, including phony essays and high-school transcripts.” That is an overwhelming number of students choosing to default to elaborate cheating methods in an attempt increase their chances of acceptance. Admissions officers have even been presented with stunningly obvious fill-in-the-blanks-style essays (incorrectly populated, which is what gives them away). This speaks to the misconception that college essay writing at its most effective, can be boiled down to a formula.
The truth is, effective college essays are the opposite of formulaic. They are built on a foundation of real human emotion, passion and intention. And, contrary to the beliefs of many, the best essays often speak to human imperfection. This is not to say that students should intentionally pepper their essays with errors. Students should always showcase their absolute best effort – but the effort must be their own.
This is why we love working with our international students so much. Time and time again our work with these applicants proves that it is possible to convey a valuable message, even as a non-native English speaker, in a manner that is thoughtful, cohesive and doesn’t require dishonesty. So international applicants, take our advice – ditch the plans to submit an essay that sounds as canned as if it were pumped out by a robot. Let your humanity lead the way.