I learned an immense amount from the Yale Essay Workshop this past Monday. In fact, directly following the Yale Essay Workshop I found myself at home working on an almost complete revision of my Common Application Essay.
The most important thing I learned from the workshop was to be myself. I had heard this advice from almost all of the previous Essay Workshops I've attended, but this time it was different. We read three essays with Mr. Richardson. The first essay I, along with most people, thought was well written but did not give enough information about the student. The second essay, most people agreed, was not badly written but was not as good as the first. However, the third essay, most everyone I spoke with afterward agreed, was a tragedy. The grammar was awful, and the voice sounded unintelligent. The author sounded like he was talking to his BFF (Best Friend Forever), rather than to a Yale Admissions Officer. Needless to say Mr. Richardson got a few strange looks as he revealed that the author of the last essay was the one of those three that was accepted to Yale. He explained that this author was admitted because he wrote with in an extremely familiar tone that allowed to be identified as a real person, as opposed to a computer or a thesaurus. This helped me realize that I was trying to be much more intellectual than I needed to be while writing my essay. I have made some serious revisions since this realization.
This workshop turned me on to a serious mistake that I would have made were it not for Mr. Richardson's advice. I am extremely appreciative of all the work and commitment Mr. Richardson and all the involved WCCUSD administrators have demonstrated in making this event a reality and in helping all of us students with our on-going quest for college admission.