The Trouble with Boys and College Application Essays

When I gave one of my summer college application essay writing boot camps this last weekend in my own hometown of Laguna Beach, I had 11 men and another girl.

As the students showed up, I casually pointed out this gender imbalance towards the group and another of this boys quipped: ‘Because boys can’t write.’

I enjoy think of myself as a person who is gender neutral, and this comment caught me off guard.

My first thought was: That’s hogwash.

I’ve worked with hundreds of students on these dreaded college admissions essays for the last decade, and noticed little difference with the quality of writing between men and girls.

The variety in the overall writing ranged wildly from awful to brilliant, with most coming in somewhere into the middle. But that disparity had nothing at all to do with gender, in so far as I could tell.

Generally speaking, girls often had more confidence in their writing ability coming into the essay writing game than men, but once most boys landed on a topic they liked and received a little help with exactly how to execute their essays, they usually aced them.

I reflected for an instant on why my workshop attracted plenty teenagers, and concluded that the problem had not been boys and writing.

The issue was well-meaning parents not believing their sons could write and many have a tendency, as with all things college admissions, to panic and overreact.

In fact, two of the men were highschool sophomores! In my opinion, that’s nearly couple of years too quickly to start worrying about these essays.

A couple were juniors, and I assume it don’t hurt for them to start out learning the college application essay writing drill. But i really believe the seniors were on the mark, especially since they were the absolute most focused and motivated.

Here are A few tips for boys Writing Essays(and Girls, if they apply)

(Disclaimer: This advice is speaking in very general terms, based on my anecdotal observations and experiences working with children, and there can be many exceptions. If you are really a girl who falls into any of these patterns, these guidelines totally apply to you, too!)

1. Men usually can have a more difficult time finding topics, at first. The hardest students are those that never have developed many outside interests, and seem to spend most of their leisure time playing video gaming. These is very challenging, though maybe not impossible. You merely have to dig deeper. One of my favorite sources of hot topics are summer jobs. (You kids out there starting early; not too late to have one!) (Have A Look At Jobs Can Make Excellent Topics.)

2. The most readily useful college application essays are highly personal, in my own opinion. Generally, it may be harder to persuade the young men I utilize to start with me about their feelings and deeper thoughts and ideas.sociology thesis statement examples It is not they are incapable or don’t possess them; it just takes more prodding and even gentle pushing to have them out. Men is as deep of thinkers as girls at this age, and I like that these essays offer a way to explore their personal thoughts, a few ideas and viewpoints. (Try Open Up: How to relate with Pathos.)

3. Males love action and a good story (which go together)! I have unearthed that as soon as boys comprehend that the magic pill of a great essay is an entertaining or interesting story from real-life their life! many have a change of attitude. Should they can recall one they like, most boys are naturals at crafting them into mini-stories to utilize to power their essays. This can allow you to start: just how to Write a College App Essay Even if You Think You Can’t Write.

4. Men are far more comfortable breaking the rules. Men often end up writing the best essays because they have an easier time of letting go of all English class writing rules, which often included using long words and a ‘voice’ wanting to sound smart. As soon as they learned that the goal was to ‘write more like they talk,’ many boys are off and running with their essays. Learn exactly how to locate Your Essay Voice.

5. Men gravitate toward sports-related topics. Since many boys have been defined by their sports through playing them and fan culture, many first desire to write their essays about sports. Usually sports, especially recreations injuries and victories, are red-flagged regarding the cliche list of college application essay topics, it’s worth trying to expand their thinking. Once boys are educated in regards to the pitfalls of recreations themes, however, they are generally game to explore other awesome topics. These can help: 5 Top recommendations on Finding Topics.

So there. Boys write in the same way well as girls. And many even better.

Parents can stop worrying about them. It’s great to offer them resources to simply help them with their writing, but trust that after they know very well what they should do most knock it out from the park!

Exactly like girls!

All the best!

(One last thought: This misconception that ‘boys can’t write’ generally seems to be the inverse of the bias against girls into the STEM world: In high level highschool English classes, girls frequently were deemed the ‘natural journalist’ stars, from what I observed. Yet, at the same time, most of the prescribed literature classics were scribed by guys. I think we have to work to know, and assert when possible, that all students have potential talent in all industries, irrespective of gender, or culture, race, social status, etc.)

Exactly what are YOUR thinking on this? I would want to know from students, parents, teachers, counselors, whoever posseses an opinion on boys and writing. Just leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

I received a message from a mom recently inquiring about my tutoring services for her college-bound daughter.

In her email, she included a story about their family history that she thought will make a good topic for an essay. It absolutely was mainly in regards to the grandfather’s immigration ‘coming to America’ experiences as well as the Holocaust.

While it sounded interesting, it didn’t seem that relevant or exciting to me at the very least for the purposes of an essay that’s supposed to focus mainly on the student.

At the conclusion of her story, the mom ended using this line: ‘My daughter’s response: ‘I read that if your parents think this is a good idea…it probably isn’t!’ LOL!’


Simply that this mom had a sense of humor about her rejected attempts at helping showed me that this mother-daughter team will be fine.

Of course parents desire to support their young ones. They can’t help it; it’s part of the work.

That funny quote from the daughter simply true, but it’s not that far off.


Because many parents haven’t done their homework yet about what makes up a great essay, and especially a stellar topic.

RELATED: Learn What Makes a College Application Essay Great

If her daughter had written her essay all about her grandfather, it is a hands-down dud. Above all, these essays need to be almost exclusively about the student.

Other folks can are likely involved in some essays, but as long as it had something to accomplish with just what the student had been trying to showcase about their own life, values and experiences.

Many parents also share another potentially harmful misconception about effective essays and their topics: They think they should be impressive.

Don’t you desire to write about that honor you won at the science fair?

Why wouldn’t you include which you are an Eagle Scout?

What about that day at China where you travelled for a month with your church and built a school for orphans?

Sorry, Dad And Mum. Those are certainly impressive feats and experiences, and can are likely involved in the college admissions game. They just don’t lead to effective topics for these essays.

Still eager to help? (Hang in there with me now…)

First, invest some time learning just what makes a great college essay.

Another exemplary way that it is possible to be of help assuming you might be on a speaking basis with your kid and they want your help is always to brainstorm past experiences with them.

The best essays include real-life experiences, often simple memorable moments, incidents and ‘times,’ from the past that students can share to illustrate what they have learned, how they think, what they value and their unique personality.

That is your big possibility. No one knows these often funny, poignant, surprising, heart-breaking, silly, unbelievable, ironic, everyday moments as YOU guys!

If your student is smart, he or she’s going to engage your help at some point in their search well for a great topic, specially these life moments from their past.

(Students reading this: Pay attention here. This works for you also. If you want your parents off your back, throw them a bone: Give them a role. Ask with regards to their help brainstorming moments from your past. No body knows YOU or those stories better!)

This is your opening to simply help plus in a huge method. These little mini-stories can literally make or break a personal essay.

They often start with: ‘Remember the time you…?’

Before you can get too excited, listed here is another tip: the greatest stories are not about your child’s shining moments of success and success.

In fact, the contrary is true. If you certainly want to help, you may help them remember accurately those often mundane moments of ‘times’ when things actually went a bit sideways, went wrong, ended defectively, were embarrassing, and hurt.

RELATED: discover more about as soon as Your Problem is just a a valuable thing

Why on earth would your brainy, hard-working, competent, loving kid desire to take up a college application essay of a simple time when something bad, or challenging, disappointing, or humiliating happened?

Three Reasons Off the Top of My Head

  1. It will be interesting because something took place. When things are rosy, nothing happens and it’s boring. You want to engage those glassy-eyed admissions officers!
  2. It will show your student at a low moment and will make she or he naturally relatable. We have all been there. Interact with your audience. Likable is good! Etc.
  3. The student can then quickly shift into sharing how they felt (good stuff!), how they handled or managed that problem (which will reveal their personality) and just what they learned (you want lots of this in an essay!).

Are we good now?

So do your homework, then wait for an opening. Tread gently. These are maybe not your essays.

If you should be lucky enough to truly have a truly wise kid, it’s likely that sooner or later they are going to obtain your help.

Then, JUMP IN!! It may even be fun seated together and going right through those families stories and memories.

All you need is one !