There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

So you’re applying to Penn? It was different when I was your age

It’s Christmas week, and I was checking the analytics for my Empoprise-BI business blog. Surprisingly, I discovered that my October post Are you apathetic, or ravenous? had become extremely popular over the last few days. At first I couldn’t figure out why, but then I began looking at the search terms people were using to get to my blog, and I found several searches that were variations on these words:

Given the undergraduate school to which you are applying, please discuss how you will engage academically at Penn.

Why would people arrive at my blog from those searches? And why were people conducting those searches in the first place?

Then I remembered.

It’s that time of year when high school seniors are applying to colleges.

The apathetic/ravenous post quoted from a particular essay question in the University of Pennsylvania’s application.

A quick check of the University of Pennsylvania website revealed that applications are due on January 1.

Now you get the picture.

Joe and Jane Student are busily working on their applications to Penn, and they come upon the essay questions. Applications are due in a few days, and they’re a little tense. While trying to think of ways to answer the application essay questions, they turn to the web for help. Unfortunately for them, they run across my October Empoprise-BI post. (Even more unfortunate will be the high school students that arrive at THIS post. Ha! Caught you.)

This example just illustrates how the whole college application process has changed in the decades since I applied to college. (I didn’t apply to Penn, but I did apply to Haverford.) Back in the dark ages, when I got ready to type my essay answers on a typewriter, I had to turn to printed books to figure out what I was going to write. Today, of course, much of the process takes place online. You can apply to colleges online, you can research colleges online – and you can figure out how to answer essay questions online.

Well, I’ll throw a bone to those unfortunate Penn applicants who have ended up at this blog post, hoping to get wise advice on the application process. I can offer these tips.

First, be yourself. If you become someone else in your application essays, you may regret it later.

Second, chcek your spelling.

Third, check your spelling again, in case you missed something the last time.

Fourth, bear in mind that your college experience may introduce you to brand new wonderful things that you can’t even envision today. This week you may think that you’re going to get a biology degree so that you can become a doctor, but perhaps two years from now you’ll find yourself onstage at the campus theater, leaving the medical world far behind. Colleges (at least the good ones) are looking for students who want to learn, and who want to take advantage of what the college has to offer. Yes, you may have a particular undergraduate school or major in mind, and you may have an idea about how you will engage academically, but remember that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Oh, and if you cite this blog post in your application essay, I’m John Bredehoft, not Patrick Bredehoft.

P.S. The apathetic/ravenous post isn’t the only post on my Empoprise-BI business blog that has recently enjoyed sudden popularity. It turns out that my several posts on KitchenAid oven temperature probes have suddenly become popular again. All that Christmas cooking, you know.

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