Where college essays are “brutally bland and predictable”

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Most of the roughly thirty-six thousand essays that pass before the bleary eyes of the Berkeley admissions staff each year follow the well-worn format of these two examples: choose your most impressive activity; tell a story about how the activity helped you develop a trait you think the admissions officers care about; if possible, work in passing references to other items from your brag sheet.  Bonus points are awarded, of course, if you can start the essay with a dash of first-person, new-journalism-style description ('I was out of my element…').  After reading a collection of these essays while researching this book, I developed some serious sympathy for the Berkeley admissions staff.  This stuff is brutally bland and predictable."

-Cal Newport

Page 12:  How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out)