【揭秘】华裔女孩用一篇Essay斩获八所藤校Offer?! 一篇文章真的如此重要吗?

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Cassandra Hsiao(萧靖彤)在17岁时收到了美国八所藤校的Offer,这样开挂的人生背后没有显赫的家庭背景的支撑,Casssandra而是通过一篇深情满满的文章敲开了很多人梦寐以求的藤校大门。这时, 我们不禁开始询问? 一篇Essay真的如此重要吗?

学生的大学申请文书是展示自己个性、告诉招生官自己与众不同的最佳机会。美国大学升学委员会(NACAC)曾发现并指出,学生的在校成绩课程优势入学标准化考试是相当重要的考量因素,除此之外,申请文书在申请过程中也有着不可忽视的作用,会很大程度上影响学校认为该生是否符合学术水平以及标准。换句话说,当申请者很多量化标准实力相当时,一篇有力量的、构思清晰的申请文书会给他们的申请加分。


“文如其人”,美国大学就是依靠学生的申请论文对申请人进行全面的了解,而以Liberal Arts教育为基石的美国本科教育更是如此,很多学校格外地看重申请论文,需要体现出学生的思想、追求、成长、改变等。好的文章让人看了开头就不自觉的想继续读下去。在申请程序中,为了分辨申请论文的真实性,很多大学甚至需要学生提交一份已经被老师打过分数的写作作业。


站在招生人员的立场,他们试着透过这些像是平面影像的申请作文,将它转化成较为真实的学生立体影像。他们希望可以透过申请作文上的文字,尽可能来了解每一位学生的状况和真实的自我。但在此之前,学生必须先将真实的立体自我,转化成纸上或屏幕上有意义的文字写作。用通俗易懂的中文解释这句话就是:让你的形象跃然于纸上。


那么,申请论文Essay是什么类型的文章呢?英文Essay是属于Creative Nonfiction类别,就是创作性的非小说类作品。一般而言,Essay有四个基本特点

  • Voice(声音)通常的Essay都是用第一人称,写出你的心声,不过仅仅写出自己的体验是不够的,而必须写出你独特的视角。

  • Form(形式)Essay的写作形式是介于小说和诗之间的。Essay需要将你的体验用故事的方式说出来,并且有诗一样的文字技巧和语言美。

  • Drama(戏剧性)Essay所描述的每一个故事都应该来自于真实的生活,同时还要让这种生活充满戏剧性,让读者好奇和产生共情。

  • Truth(真实或真理)一篇小说可以没有Truth 或Point,但一篇Essay必须有Truth or Point,即反映出你对生活的看法和你的价值观。


那么,怎样的一篇Essay算得上一篇好文章呢?至少这三点很重要:

第一,要写出真实的自己。也就是说,看完这篇文章后,能对你从内到外建立起一个印象来,当然是优秀的印象。所以,文章的素材必须来自于你真实的经历,要用心去写,切忌假、大、空。另外,这篇文章最好能和你的特长、活动等个人其它材料有所联系,因为要记得,这不是一篇孤立的文章,而是整个申请材料中的一部分。


第二,要迅速抓住读者(招生官)。招生官扫视每一份申请的时间很短,所以,你的论文需要尽快吸引到他们的目光。可以说,你文章中的前两句话或第一段内容就决定了文章的品质和招生官的态度。除了开头要抓住读者外,优秀的申请论文还会加入一些幽默的成分或诙谐的语言。


第三,要写出与众不同的想法。这就是说文章的选材一定要有新意,不落俗套,或者至少要有自己独特的视角和感悟。

文末福利

Cassandra Hsiao打动美国顶级名校的Essay原文在此,大家体验一下如何通过一篇文章展现出独一无二的自己,打动招生官。

In our house, English is not English. Not in the phonetic sense, like short a is for apple, but rather in the pronunciation – in our house, snake is snack. Words do not roll off our tongues correctly – yet I, who was pulled out of class to meet with language specialists, and my mother from Malaysia, who pronounces film as flim, understand each other perfectly.

In our house, there is no difference between cast and cash, which was why at a church retreat, people made fun of me for “cashing out demons.” I did not realize the glaring difference between the two Englishes until my teacher corrected my pronunciations of hammock, ladle, and siphon. Classmates laughed because I pronounce accept as except, success as sussess. I was in the Creative Writing conservatory, and yet words failed me when I needed them most.

Suddenly, understanding flower is flour wasn’t enough. I rejected the English that had never seemed broken before, a language that had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Everybody else’s parents spoke with accents smarting of Ph.D.s and university teaching positions. So why couldn’t mine?

My mother spread her sunbaked hands and said, “This is where I came from,” spinning a tale with the English she had taught herself.

When my mother moved from her village to a town in Malaysia, she had to learn a brand new language in middle school: English. In a time when humiliation was encouraged, my mother was defenseless against the cruel words spewing from the teacher, who criticized her paper in front of the class. When she began to cry, the class president stood up and said, “That’s enough.”

“Be like that class president,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. The class president took her under her wing and patiently mended my mother’s strands of language. “She stood up for the weak and used her words to fight back.”

We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.

As my mother’s vocabulary began to grow, I mended my own English. Through performing poetry in front of 3000 at my school’s Season Finale event, interviewing people from all walks of life, and writing stories for the stage, I stand against ignorance and become a voice for the homeless, the refugees, the ignored. With my words I fight against jeers pelted at an old Asian street performer on a New York subway. My mother’s eyes are reflected in underprivileged ESL children who have so many stories to tell but do not know how. I fill them with words as they take needle and thread to make a tapestry.

In our house, there is beauty in the way we speak to each other. In our house, language is not broken but rather bursting with emotion. We have built a house out of words. There are friendly snakes in the cupboard and snacks in the tank. It is a crooked house. It is a little messy. But this is where we have made our home.

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往期精选

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