The college admissions essay can easily be seen as a “genre” according to Kerry Dirk’s Navigating Genres. As prospective students develop and refine their college essays, they must write accordingly: acknowledging their reader–the board of admissions–and writing in a way that will elicit the desired response, admission into the school. There are many components that compile a typical college essay. Dirk refers to this as the “rhetorical situation”. The genre of a college essay generally includes unique, self-reflective experiences that reveals a notable or deserving trait of the author. Besides the word count, this part of the application gives the author a considerable amount of freedom. The text is often eloquent, but also reveals their personality and character. The students are given the chance to convince the board of admissions that this school is right for them. However, in order convey this the writing is usually exaggerated to get these responses.
In my experience, finding the story itself was the most difficult part. I wanted to tell a story that would show the admission officers that I as more than the typical smart asian kid. I will admit my essay responses were a bit theatrical, but never past the truth. Specific customizations were made in regards to each college or “location”, as Dirk calls it. For example, I did some research on this school before constructing my essay. I found that the school valued community and I was easily able to connect it to my service projects for my county. I focussed on a specific project where my group and I gave presentations to local elementary kids about the importance of the environment and our responsibilities as inhabitants of the earth. I connected this to the value of community and just how much more influence and change can be made. With this, not only was I able to show my skills as a leader, but demonstrate the very value that USD is looking for in students. This genre allowed me to formulate my own “rhetorical action”, making my essay a true representation of my unique experiences and how I can utilize them at the school.