Recently, I completed my application for the MSB’s summer program in Hong Kong which, like most applications, included a portion that required written responses to various prompts.
While there are no hard and fast rules people must follow when writing such responses, there are certain conventions that most people do tend to follow. These include things such as being honest about yourself but also highlighting what makes you unique, writing in a way that makes it clear that it is your voice coming through, and grounding the topics you are discussing in concrete examples or experiences. However, I only became aware of these conventions once I embarked on the college admission process and began writing numerous applications and receiving a lot of advice from people that had already been through the same process.
As with the written portion of any application, my admission into this program was at stake in my writing. Thus, what I wrote aimed to convince or prove to my audience that I was a perfect fit for the program. And of course, the audience for which I was writing was very specific because I was really only writing for the small group of people who do not know me but will arbitrarily decide whether I am suitable for this program after reading a couple paragraphs about me. And while I, nor anybody else, will never receive specific feedback about what we wrote from our readers, the final decision on whether or not we are admitted is a pretty good indicator of how persuasive our writing actually was.
Like most of my other past applications, I started this one fairly early, a couple months before the deadline, but I only worked on it very sporadically in the beginning. It was not until the deadline was much, much closer that I really sat down in a quiet place to try and string together the various thoughts I had quickly jotted down earlier into a cohesive response. As a result of this last-minute push-to-the-finish-line approach, I actually felt quite stressed out while writing this despite such writings being seen as “easy” (in the sense that the responses should come more naturally since everything is about yourself).
But that is all in the past. Now that my application has officially been submitted, all I can do is wait.