Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Look At Me! Look At Me! Look At Me!

*I knew in 9th grade when I woke up with alcohol poisoning that I needed to change my life.

*The only flaw with Oprah is she never writes back.

*Not every high school senior has $15,000 in a tin can under their bed from selling women's shoes.

*I think Roseanne Barr is hot.

*My grandmother often swims in her bra and panties with butterflies; she drinks wine with the winds and trees.

I was asked yesterday to do a college application essay  workshop for an immersion program at Fairfield University. Across the hall the Invitational Summer Institute was moving full force. The Young Writers  left a little before to enjoy their Connecticut afternoons. "In 500 words or less, describe why you belong at our college" - that's a single-spaced page and a writer has to catch the attention of readers quick. Give it a try. How would you hook the attention of exhausted academic officers.

To make my case, I had the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs dress in a blonde wig and pink glasses and asked her dance to a song by Outkast. Why? I wanted students to see how she stood out and stated the task at hand was to get readers to look, if only for a short while, at them with a sense of flair and pizazz. College essays are where one brags slightly while highlighting voice and personality immensely. We read several stellar models together from Teen Ink and several others from online sources. The students brainstormed how to get the attention of others quickly, but not in an overly precocious way. And we shared. We shared one-liners that hooked a reader to want more. The above five were the ones I wrote. Would you like to read more?

But 500 words. Yikes. What a fun and exhilarating task!

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