Lying about myself to show you who I really am


Anonymous Author

“What can you tell us about yourself that we can’t see in your application? We want to know who you are and why we should want you on our campus next fall.”


Cliches like these cover the “Apply Now” pages for university websites all across the nation.


They’re lying.


As a senior who just finished the college essay process and discussed it extensively with my friends, one thing for sure is that no one is their authentic self in their college essays. In fact, they’re far from it. Colleges want us to show difficulties, triumphs, and immensely meaningful and life-altering struggles. And for a large portion of the 17 and 18 year olds applying to college, we just haven’t had those yet.


But for some reason the college process makes us feel bad about not experiencing these magical epiphanies that change our perspective of the universe within the first two decades we’re alive. In the midst of the pressure to stand out from the crowd, we lose ourselves, but schools seem to have forgotten that in order for there to be a crowd, some people have to be there. Colleges have no interest in those of us who don’t have incredible life stories; they just want to hear something unbelievable from each applicant.


For those stuck in the crowd, still waiting on that momentous instant in our lives, we’re forced to embellish, modify, or lie about ourselves and our experiences. The essay process becomes more of a battle of creativity than an expression of personality.


I understand the blame is not solely on the universities. They cannot entirely control the competitive nature of America’s youths, or the high-strung parents of today, or even the multitude of college counseling and tutoring businesses. However, by altering question phrasing or prompts, they could help to evoke more truthful and genuine essays from applicants.
Ultimately, the competitiveness of the college process pressures kids to find moments in their lives that often just aren’t there yet. Under the stress of the system, students feel forced to lie, completely counteracting the original purpose of the college essay: to tell colleges who you really are.