如何写好创意型文书?4个必须掌握的技巧——本科申请补充文书详解(下)

当你申请大学的时候,你可能希望写下你为什么要申请这所特定的学校或者你为什么想要学习这个特定的专业。然而,随着学校开始更多地思考学生整体情况以及他们如何才能适应即将到来的课程,开始提出一些挖掘学生独特和创造性的问题。这些问题不仅鼓励学生从不同的角度认真思考他们的学业情况,也为招生官员提供了一个不同的视角来看待学生。

 

创意文书的几个例子

加州理工学院:加州理工学院的学生通常以他们的幽默感和创造性的恶作剧而闻名。你喜欢做什么消遣?
斯坦福:想象一下你每天有额外的一个小时ーー你会如何度过这段时间?
埃默里:如果让你写一条150字的推特,告诉全世界你是谁,你会说什么?
圣母大学:为自己持有的不受欢迎的观点辩护。
 
作为一个喜欢阅读和写作的成年人,看到这些问题让我露出微笑,因为它们是一个机会,让我显露机智,娱乐读者。然而,由于年轻学生面对回答这些问题才能获得大学录取的巨大压力,这些问题肯定会引起他们的焦虑,而且他们很可能在英语课上从未遇到过这样的问题。
下面我来介绍5个具体方法,帮助你在创意文书环节增光添彩,一举俘获招生官的“心”。

写好创意文书的4个技巧

娱乐你的读者

重要的是要记住一点,招生人员在申请高峰期时要花费数小时阅读申请材料。这些创意型的问题为他们提供了一个喘息的时刻,因为他们现在有机会看到一个学生在学术成就之外表达自己。因此,当你在写创意型补充文书时,请记住,你的目标之一是通过展示你的创造性和批判性思维来娱乐读者

与众不同,创造性地思考

在写这些论文时,学生们应该想想他们与其他申请者有什么不同。当被问及你的娱乐活动时,太多的学生会说电子游戏,和朋友一起玩。有没有什么你可以做的小事是有趣的?也许在一个大的事件其中有一个小的方面是你喜欢的,可以强调你自己的。当你和你的朋友们一起出去玩的时候,你有什么特别的方面?也许和朋友一起出去玩最好的部分就是一起做其他人不做的特定活动(例如,在奥尔科特的《小妇人》中,姐妹俩为了好玩一起写剧本,一起演戏)?还要注意的是,加州理工学院关于“你喜欢做什么消遣”的这个问题的前提是关于学生幽默感和创造性的恶作剧——这表明他们真的想了解你为了好玩而做的事情,既愚蠢又有趣。

避免重复

对于斯坦福的问题,您可能会重复Common App的个人陈述。在 Common App上已经存在一个关于你喜欢的东西会让你忘记时间的问题。在准备申请材料的任何部分时,你都不会希望显得多余,因为这会浪费本就宝贵的少量空间用于展示自己有多么有趣。每天拥有多一个小时,你可能会想要谈论学习某个领域或者更多的志愿服务… 但是想想这是否真的是独一无二的。如果你在申请的其他部分中已经讨论过这种兴趣,那么最好选择一些你没有讨论过的新内容。它可以是一些简单的事情(例如,学习如何设计我的指甲或者找到方法修理你房子里的电源插座),但是要突出创造力,激情和对这个特殊任务的兴趣。
 
埃默里大学关于推特的问题是另一个你不想显得多余的地方。你的推文不需要表明你是一个国际学生的事实;你只有150个单词,招生官已经知道这一点。你还有什么没有分享过的事情,可以反映出你和其他申请者相比是多么的特别?顺着这个思路深挖一下。

小心陷阱

圣母大学的补充文书是一个棘手的问题。你被问到的不仅仅是你的观点,还是一个不受欢迎的观点。他们想看到你的想法,也想看到你是如何捍卫自己的信仰和观点的。但那些自动提出与学校价值观相悖观点的人很容易被拒绝,不管这种观点有多么有说服力。
 
这个问题和你的回答暗示着你的观点可能会引起争议或者让某人感到不舒服。在美国,人们经常因为不受欢迎的观点而被“取消”(了解取消文化),对于不受欢迎的观点你必须小心,不要冒犯任何人或违背人们一贯认为是正确和公正的东西。例如,被人们接受的观点是所有人生而平等,应该享有同样的权利:如果你不持有这种观点,那你的补充论文就不是该采取这种立场的时候了。
此时此刻,重要的是要与一个完全了解美国文化的人交谈,并且能够告诉你,你的这个不受欢迎的观点是否会使你陷入困境。这样做的目的是要提出一种观点,即使有些人可能不喜欢,但也不会冒犯整个群体。因为文化在不断变化,所以你最好和真正了解美国当前流行观点的老师进行交流,确认你写的话题不跌入陷阱。
 

总结

最后我们总结一下写好补充文书的4点建议:
    • 娱乐你的读者:讲一个能让读者高兴的故事,同时展现你是一个多么有趣的人
    • 创造性地思考:不要把重点放在学业上,事实上,根据问题的不同,过于专注于学术反而可能对你不利
    • 避免重复:不要重复你在申请书的其他部分已经说过的话
    • 小心陷阱:避免任何有争议或陈词滥调的事。最好找一位了解美国本土文化的人来审阅你的文章,可以更确保你避免所有的文化刻板印象,让你自己处于一个更加积极和有见识的视野。
    英文原文:
    The Undergraduate Supplemental Essay Part 2- The Creative Supplementals
    When working on your college applications, you likely expect to have to write about why you are applying to a particular school or why you want to study a particular major. However, as schools begin to think more about the entire student and how they may fit into the incoming class, questions that tap the more unique and creative side of the student not only encourage the student to think differently about their serious academic selves, but also provide admissions officers with a different perspective on the student.
    Some quick examples we have seen as we helped students apply:
    Cal Tech: Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? 
    Stanford: Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time?
    Emory: If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say? 
    University of Notre Dame: Defend an unpopular opinion you hold. 
    As an adult who enjoys reading and writing, seeing these questions puts a smile on my face because they are an opportunity to be witty and entertain the reader. However, with the enormous pressure on a young adult having to answer these questions to gain college admission, they are sure to cause anxiety since students are likely to have never encountered such questions in their English classes.
    Entertain your reader
    What is important to remember is that admissions officers, at the height of application season, spend hours upon hours just reading applications.  These questions, in their creativeness, offer a moment of respite for the reader because they now have a chance to see a student express themselves beyond academic achievements.  Thus, while you write your responses to the creative supplemental essay questions, keep in mind that one of your goals is to entertain the reader by showing your ability to think creatively and critically.
    Be different and think creatively
    Writing these essays, students should think about how they are different from other applicants. When asked about what you do for fun, far too many students will say video games and hanging out with friends. Is there something small you might do that is fun?  Perhaps there is one small aspect of a larger event that you like, which can be highlighted.  While you might have fun hanging out with your friends, what specific aspect can you highlight? Perhaps the best part of hanging out with your friends is a specific activity that you all do together which others do not do (for example, in Alcott’s “Little Women”, the sisters write and put on plays together for fun)?  Notice, also, that CalTech’s question about what you do for fun is prefaced by a statement about students having a sense of humor and creative pranks —  it would indicate they are really looking for something you do for fun that is also silly and funny.  
    Do no be redundant
    For the Stanford essay, you run the risk of replicating a Common Application personal statement.  There already exists a question on the Common App about something you enjoy which makes you lose track of time.  You never want to be redundant when filling out any part of your application because it wastes the precious little space you have to showcase how interesting you are. With the extra hour in your day, you might be tempted to talk about studying a certain area or volunteering more…but think about whether or not this is truly unique.  If you have already talked about this interest in another part of your application, it is best to choose something new that you have not talked about.  It can be something simple (e.g., learning how to design my fingernails or finding ways to fix electrical outlets in your house), but highlight the creativity, the passion, and the interest in this particular task.
    Emory’s question about a tweet is another place where you do not want to be redundant.  Your tweet need not include the fact that you are an international student; you only have 150 words and the admissions officer already knows this about you. What about you have you not yet shared, that would reflect positively on how ‘special’ you are compared to someone else who is applying as well?
    Be Careful
    Notre Dame’s supplemental question is a tricky one. You are being asked not only about your opinion, but also about an unpopular opinion that you have.  They want to see how you think but also, how you defend your beliefs and opinions.  Someone who automatically offers an unpopular opinion that goes against the school’s values will easily be rejected, regardless of how well argued that opinion may be.  
    Implicit in this question and your response is that the opinion you hold might be controversial or make someone uncomfortable.  In these difficult times in the U.S. where people are often “canceled” (see cancel culture) for unpopular opinions, you must be careful not to offend anyone or go against something that people systematically agree is ‘right and just’.  For example, what is accepted is the idea that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights: if you do not hold this opinion, your supplemental essay is not the time to take a stance about this.  This is a moment where it would be important to speak to a someone who fully understands U.S. culture and would be able to tell you if your unpopular opinion is one that will make you seem ill informed.  The goal here is to have an opinion that some people may not like, but not one in which would offend entire groups of people; because culture constantly changes, this is why it would be wise to speak to someone well informed about what current popular opinion in the U.S. is.
    Things to always remember
    The goals of the supplemental essays are simple: one, do not repeat something you have already said in another part of your application; two, be creative and remember that you need not focus this on your academics (in fact, depending on the question, being too academically focused may work against you); three, tell a story that entertains the reader but also positions you as an interesting person people would want to know; and finally, fourth, avoid anything too controversial or cliche.  Having a native of U.S. culture review your essay will provide more assurance that any cultural stigmas are avoided, positioning yourself in a more positive and informed light.