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名家教你怎樣寫一篇出色的大學申請作文

作者:白露為霜  於 2011-12-6 03:52 發表於 最熱鬧的華人社交網路--貝殼村

作者分類:升學爬藤|通用分類:留學生活|已有53評論

關鍵詞:大學申請, 作文

白露為霜註:Keith Todd是號稱南部的哈佛的萊斯大學(Rice University) 的招生部主任。這是他幾年前在一份教育雜誌上發表的文章。我覺得言之有物,對學生和家長都有參考價值,所以翻成中文給大家。希望能夠有所幫助。



大學申請作文之我見

們這些招生的人試圖將二維的申請材料轉變為學生的三維肖像,希望通過他們的寫作來洞悉學生的情況。不過在此之前,學生必須將立體的自我變成紙上或屏幕上有意義的寫作這個任務比我們的更加艱巨。

為一個當過文老師的人,我很理解任何一個人面對空白紙頁所產生的焦慮,特別是當要寫的與自己有關,而如果寫的是大學申請作文就更是如此。我想分享有關大學申請作文(有時也被稱為個人聲明」Personal Statement)的一些想法。我的第一個建議是你應該把升學作文當作潛在的強勢位置 (place of power)。大學申請的其他部分都是相當間接的或統計類的:比如考試分數,學校成績,推薦信。但是寫作部分是由你來決定把自己的哪一方面展示給招生委員會。在所有申請材料中,這一部分你有完全的控制

很多學生感到很緊張,因為他們覺得寫作,特別是創意寫作,不是他們的最強項。我要強調的是:升學作文不是文學比賽。我讀過許多抒情,有詩意的升學作文,但很多卻沒有告訴我有關這個學生的任何實質性的東西,這些文章對學生的錄取並沒有幫助。另一方面,在我幫助錄取的工程師中有很多並不是未來的托尼.莫里森或約翰.厄普代克(作家)。他們只是聰明的年輕人,以一種清晰,可讀,簡潔,有組織的方式,寫出自己的信念,價值觀,雄心,或者生活經歷

我遇到的另一個升學作文的神話是:你必須有一個很"大"的故事,最好是情感跌蕩起伏的故事。到目前為止的職業生涯中我已經閱讀了超過兩萬份申請作文,我的感覺是,大多數申請人有著相當戲劇性生活 - 為什麼不呢?他們都非常年輕。大多數受過良好到優秀的教育。大多數有著幸福的童年和少年。只有少數擁有不同尋常的人生經歷,通常由於自己所不能控制的好運氣或壞運氣。的確,我也讀過一些讓我感動作文,有關家人去世,父母離異,克服坎坷的童年或戰勝一種可怕的疾病。但是,即使是感人的作文也必需是一個有效力」(effective) 的作文,能傳達一些有關作者的智力能力以及是否為進入我的學校做好了準備的信息

讀過的最好的升學作文是那些有一個明確而獨特的聲音,幫助我更清楚地看到和理解這個學生的文章。即使是最平淡最普通的生活也是可以被仔細觀察的。有一篇作文多年來一直常讓我想起。它的作者是一個住在同一個地方,去了個好學校,似乎有著幸福生活的學生 - 沒有什么戲劇性。她寫到自己和母親有一個習慣:每天早上,就她們兩個人一起吃早餐。通過這個日常事件她了解到自己的母親的那些她從未想到過的事情,進而使她們的關係得以成長和深化。正如我所說,重要的並不在於故事的本身,而在於你如何使你的生活和你的觀察在我們這些讀者面前變的鮮活起來

最後一點議:不僅僅是修改,而是給自己足夠的時間來修改。把你的文章放到邊上一兩天時間,然後再重新讀它,可能會有很大的區別。大學錄取官有一種可以感受到一篇文章是否是很匆忙的,堆砌到一起,沒有認真考慮的第六感覺。邀請朋友,父母或老師讀你的文章並給你反饋。你的作文應該是自己的聲音,不是你父母的聲音,更不是你認為招生委員會所希望看到的,想象中的完美學生的聲音。留足夠的時間反覆閱讀自己的寫作,試驗不同的寫法,而不因最後期限將至感到恐慌。忠實於自己所有不完美的,獨特的方面:苦思冥想政治活躍,多愁善感,理想主義,搖擺不定,事事好奇。如果你是一個妙趣橫生的作者,不妨運用一點小幽默。但是如果你不知道你寫出來的是否好笑  -- 最好不要拿升學作文當試驗品。祝你好運!



Some thoughts on the Application Essay

We admissions people try to turn two-dimensional applications into three-dimensional portraits of students, hoping to gain insight into a student through his or her writing. Before that, though, students must try to turn their three-dimensional selves into meaningful writing on the page or screen – a more daunting task than ours.

Having taught English, I』m familiar with the anxiety the blank page causes in any writer, especially writing about oneself, and even more especially for a college application. I want to share a few thoughts about the college application essay (or 「personal statement,」 as you』ll often see it called). My first recommendation is that you think of the written application as a potential place of power. Everything else in the application is rather indirect or statistical: a test score, a letter grade, a recommendation letter. But in the written portions, you get to determine exactly what you want the admission committee to know about you. It is the one place in the application process where you are most clearly in charge.

Many students get nervous because they feel writing, particular creative writing, is not their strongest suit. I can say emphatically that the admission essay is not a literary contest. I have read many lyrical, poetic essays that did not tell me anything of substance about the student, so they did not advance the student』s case for admission. On the other hand, many of the engineers I have helped admit are not the next Toni Morrison or John Updike. They are simply smart young people who write clearly, readably, and in an organized, short format, about their beliefs, values, ambitions, or life experiences.

Another myth I』ve encountered is that you have to have a big story, and preferably an emotionally fraught one. Having read upward of 20,000 applications so far in my career, my sense is that most of our applicants have had fairly undramatic lives – and why not? They are all quite young. Most have had good to excellent educations. Most have had happy upbringings. And only a small number have had highly unusual life experiences, usually due to good or bad luck, not of their own doing. Yes, I have read essays that moved me, about a death in the family, the divorce of parents, overcoming a rough childhood or a terrible disease. But even a moving essay needs to be an effective essay, one that communicates something about its author』s intellectual abilities and readiness to attend my college.

Some of the best essays I』ve read were those that simply had a clear, individual voice, that helped me see and understand the student more clearly. Even the least exciting, most average life can be carefully and well observed. One essay that has stuck with me for years was written by a student who had lived in one place, attended a good school, and seemed to have a happy family life – no drama. But she wrote about the habit she and her mother developed of having breakfast together, just the two of them, every morning, how this daily encounter helped her learn things about her mother she』d never imagined, and how their relationship grew and deepened as a result. As I said, the impact is not in the story itself, but in how you make your life and your observations come alive for us as readers.

One last bit of advice: don』t just revise, but give yourself time to revise. Just setting your writing aside for a day or two, then approaching it afresh, can make a big difference. Admission officers have a sixth sense for writing that feels rushed, thrown together, not carefully considered. Have a friend, parent, or teacher read over your work and give you feedback. Make sure your writing is in your own voice, not your parent』s voice, and certainly not the voice of that imaginary Perfect Student you think the admission committee wants to see. Give yourself time to see your own writing, to test out approaches, to not feel panicky under deadline. Be yourself in all your unperfected, unique aspects: be ruminative, politically engaged, pensive, idealistic, undecided, curious. If you』re an amusing writer, don』t be afraid to use a little humor. But if you』re not sure if you』re funny in print – please don』t start with the college essay. Good luck!

 

 


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發表評論 評論 (53 個評論)

回復 方方頭 2011-12-6 04:04
早不貼,我兒子都快大學畢業了
回復 stren45 2011-12-6 04:58
thank you for the post in both language.  I sent the part in English to my child.
回復 活水湧泉 2011-12-6 06:20
I will forward it to my niece and hope to helping her, thank you so much!
回復 天涯孤兔 2011-12-6 06:48
留著讓我的二個小兔子,好好看看,謝謝了
回復 亦云 2011-12-6 07:10
Thanks a lot. I already forward your words to my kid.   
回復 亦云 2011-12-6 07:16
方方頭: 早不貼,我兒子都快大學畢業了
It is not late for your grandkids!Haha!   
回復 goodoctor 2011-12-6 07:42
多謝!
回復 oncemore 2011-12-6 07:59
多謝分享
回復 都市小人物 2011-12-6 08:07
謝謝,收藏了。祝好!
回復 宜修 2011-12-6 08:08
方方頭: 早不貼,我兒子都快大學畢業了
   同感! 好在我還有一個墊底兒的......

膽兒:你可以給孫子留著用啊!
回復 xoyuanfen 2011-12-6 08:34
謝謝!
回復 一樹繁花 2011-12-6 09:29
3q
回復 Junkkiller 2011-12-6 11:41
宜修:    同感! 好在我還有一個墊底兒的......

膽兒:你可以給孫子留著用啊!
操心催人老,責任一輩了,鼻子伸太長,費力不討好。
回復 宜修 2011-12-6 12:21
Junkkiller: 操心催人老,責任一輩了,鼻子伸太長,費力不討好。
生老病死=自然規律 還用催?

早就 lay back 了。連小丫頭都不要俺管了。問她 sweet 16 有什麼打算。人家說:「你只要把錢給我就好了。別的不需要你操心,更不用你露面兒。」聽聽!
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:06
方方頭: 早不貼,我兒子都快大學畢業了
[不用擔心,子子孫孫,綿延不息。
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:07
stren45: thank you for the post in both language.  I sent the part in English to my child.
不謝。
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:07
活水湧泉: I will forward it to my niece and hope to helping her, thank you so much!
  
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:08
天涯孤兔: 留著讓我的二個小兔子,好好看看,謝謝了
兔子乖乖,把門開開。
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:08
亦云: Thanks a lot. I already forward your words to my kid.    
  
回復 白露為霜 2011-12-6 13:09
goodoctor: 多謝!
不謝。常來坐坐。
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