McEssays (with Cheese)

Any senior who's planning to write college essays this fall should stop and read Parke Muth's "Writing The Essay: Sound Advice from an Expert."  In fact, his analogy comparing boring essays to Big Macs is so good that I actually started to resent him a teeny bit because I didn't come up with it myself.  At least I'm honest. 

Here's my favorite snippet: 

"Ninety percent of the applications I read contain what I call McEssays
– usually five-paragraph essays that consist primarily of abstractions
and unsupported generalization. They are technically correct in that
they are organized and have the correct sentence structure and
spelling, but they are boring. Sort of like a Big Mac. I have nothing
against Big Macs, but the one I eat in Charlottesville is not going to
be fundamentally different from the one I eat in Paris, Peoria or Palm
Springs. I am not going to rave about the quality of a particular Big
Mac. The same can be said about the generic essay. If an essay starts
out: "I have been a member of the band and it has taught me leadership,
perseverance and hard work," I can almost recite the rest of the essay
without reading it. Each of the three middle paragraphs gives a bit of
support to an abstraction, and the final paragraph restates what has
already been said. A McEssay is not wrong, but it is not going to be a
positive factor in the admission decision. It will not allow a student
to stand out."