College Counseling Connecticut: The College Essay – do I need a dramatic story?

By College Counseling

“That must have been a great college essay.”

I was running an undergraduate house while I was at Penn Law School.  During introductions, of one the students relayed how his family escaped the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, lived as refugees for years in Guam and finally wound up struggling and impoverished in California.  

It would have been a brilliant joke – at least for my NJ style sense of humor – but the person who blurted out “that must have been a great college essay” was quite serious.  Her tactlessness still astounds me.

When I work with most of our college counseling students from leafy suburbs along the Connecticut shoreline, I have to seemingly assure students that their relatively boring lives in Old Lyme or Essex are wonderful in comparison to those who have stories related to hardship.

You don’t have a traumatic story for your college essay?  Good.

They will still craft great essays.  Even better, they have great lives.