At Ivy Eyes Editing, we work with applicants from very different institutions, communities and cultures. In general, we’ve found that applicants with equivalent English-speaking skills will respond very differently to probing questions, depending on their unique background and profile. Certain trends emerge according to geography. Our constructive, supportive request of all of our clients? Stop being so precious with your thoughts.
In the admissions context, it’s a natural impulse to aim to please. But in our work with clients, we seek to quickly move past that instinct to uncover the realities, the questions, and the tensions in a person’s story. There is nothing more boring or less inspiring than reviewing an application that feels glossy and under-processed, EVEN IF it includes an astounding list of academic and professional accomplishments. EVEN IF it includes all the “right” answers.
Think about the last time you read an autobiography. Did it feel too controlled? Did certain subjects feel taboo to the author (Hillary on Bill), or did the person seem too intent on mythologizing themselves that the reality sometimes seemed far in the distance (Patti Smith)? The stories we most remember are the ones that clearly reveal brave, disruptive thinking. The polar opposite of precious thinking.
Admissions committees seek imperfect but reflective applicants, yes. But more critically and even more technically: the more reflective (and less precious!) your story/application, the more of an impression you’ll leave.
Ivy Eyes Editing