Hi! I am a senior at a large public high school. For my Commonapp essay, I would like to do an unconventional structure. That being said, I was going to attempt to write my essay with a big headline at the top, then have the content be in columns. In addition, I was thinking about adding a small picture that is relevant to my essay. Is this a good idea? I was unsure if this is too risky. Thank you!
Is it a good idea?
Yes and no.
Yes, it's a good idea if that is the BEST way to inform the admissions officers who read your file about WHO you are and WHAT your story is. Some applicants fare better by writing in plain English about their prompt because it's easier for them and they have little experience writing in other formats like poetry or journalistic editorial styles or let's throw it out there, Olde English Shakespearean prose. However, if you feel that writing in a newspaper format will be the very best way to convey to the reader an inside look into what kind of person you, then that should be the way to go. And a further thumbs up if your intention in college is to study journalism and your on-campus goal is to be the editor of the school newspaper. In that case, it's sort of an audition for the part you hope to play.
No, if you are only trying to be quirky and unique so your essay stands out above the fray. No, if you think that a newspaper format will make your essay memorable enough for the readers to advocate for you because they'll remember you took additional risks in order to get them to react to your narrative.
Remember what the goal is. The goal is to communicative as much as possible your unique narrative and how you arrived here wanting to apply to this college at this time. The admissions officers want the most informed and accurate picture of you Francesca so they can determine if you are a good fit for the Class of 2025 on their campus. They are trying to build the best class portfolio of incoming students as possible. If they know they can only accepted a limited amount of students whose spike was Editor in Chief of their Newspaper, and so on, then the kids who can communicate that's who they really are and that's what they live and breathe every day will be able to tell their story regardless of the written format.
In conclusion, ask yourself why you are doing it and whether or not it is the very best way to convey to the readers' information that helps them fully understand who you are what drives you. Sometimes a novelty is fun but not effective if there is no big reward.
I think a unique essay format is a great way to stand out & show your individuality if it's done well. If you think you can pull it off, I'd say go for it, just remember at the end of the day it's a personal essay and that should be your focus; don't get too carried away with the format. In terms of using a headline/columns/pictures, I don't think you'll have the option. You have to submit your essay through the common app submission box where you can only bold underline or italicize - it doesn't even allow tabbing. Hope this helps, good luck!
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