It’s important to remember that colleges want to hear the kids’ versions of their life events. And that story is often very different from the parent’s version.
A parent might see her son’s three year tenure on the water polo team as an impressive display of commitment to his goals. But if the student sees it as the only thing that could ever get him out of bed at 5 a.m. five days a week, that’s the story he should tell if he chooses to share it in his college essay.
A parent might want his daughter to write an essay about all of her success in Model United Nations. But if she lights up more when she talks about her part-time job as a server at a local restaurant, let the server tell her story.
Students need to share the stories they want to tell, in their own voice, as seen through their eyes. Of course, a student has to use common sense, too. I wouldn’t advise that a kid write a 600-word essay about how he taught himself to burp the alphabet without having to take a breath.
But parents see the world differently than kids do. And parents aren’t applying to college. So parents, don’t worry if the essay is missing the big meaning that you see in the experience. Your kids will probably see it later when they have your perspective. Remember that the teen version of the story is the one colleges want to hear.