Apparently taking a cue from the Common App, numerous NYC private high schools, including Dalton, Grace Church and Trevor Day, have debuted the new ISAAGNY Common Essay. In 2014-2015, students can choose from common essay topics:
I think this is a smart direction for NYC private high schools. Too often, 8th grade applicants are caught in a crunch with too many private school essays to write in too short a time. Often I see sympathetic parents stepping in and getting overly involved helping students, either by editing and writing essays themselves, or by hiring English tutors to do the job. These actions send students the wrong message, and can be detrimental to their admissions chances. As a reader, it’s irritating when an essay doesn’t sound like a real 8th grader.
While I like that many NYC private high schools are sharing the ISAAGNY Common Essay, I am not keen on the questions, which are needlessly highfalutin and difficult. Can you describe your life in a snapshot? Or your cultural experience in music lyrics? It’s not easy for a 13-year-old, either. I am not sure what value this exercise brings to an admissions decision.