The theme for this week’s links is “vintage” (from the past 3 – 5 years, not, like 1920). These are some things I’ve saved or favorited on the number of sites I visit that were worth rereading or revisiting recently.
Teaching and Gender
Male professors are brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable. Women are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly.
These are a few of the results from a new interactive chart that was gaining notice on social media Friday. Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University history professor, says he built the chart using data from 14 million student reviews on the Rate My Professors site.
College Application Essays
I went to 3 different colleges.
I applied to the first when I was 18. I applied to the second when I was 19. And I remember the last line of my essay was: “If you do not let me in, I will kill myself.”
Obviously, this is before i had started writing. I don’t know that it had anything to do with me getting into Kent State, I think they just accepted me because i was an out of state tuition.
It’s not a good line to use in a college application.
I think what’s hard in letters like that…I think it’s really hard to sound like yourself, when you’re under pressure, you try to sound like somebody who’s smarter than you are, or more experienced you are. It’s like the language you go into when you have to write blurbs for books, or letters of recommendation for Guggenheim Grants.
You just launch into this – you start writing and you think “Who is this person?” You’re afraid to be too casual, because you don’t want it to seem like you don’t care.
So you wind up just boring them to death.
I would start by writing to an adult, maybe a high school teacher, or maybe an aunt or uncle, and writing and telling them why you want to go to a particular university. That’s probably what you would actually sound like.
Then write your letter to the university, and put those 2 versions in front of you, and look at the difference between those 2 things.
The advice I give to students that’s similar is: what else would this piece of writing appear in (other than a college application)? Is it a letter to someone? A newspaper article? Magazine? Speech? Would I want to read/listen to it in one of those media?
But his point, about how to become more aware of language that represents our true selves, is excellent, and something I love about his writing. I also tell students that if they want models of good college application essays, they should just read good prose nonfiction by good writers rather than other application essays. When I applied to college, I read a lot of E. B. White personal essays as inspiration. But if I were looking for inspiration today, I would check out Sedaris, David Rakoff, Sarah Vowell, David Foster Wallace, and Rebecca Solnit.
“Some General Instructions” (Kenneth Koch)
“Dream Song 14” (John Berryman)
“Erik Estrada Defends His Place in the Canon” (J. Estanislao Lopez)