- Which ideas are too short for 200 words? Too long?
- Which funny stories are offensive or inappropriate to tell an admissions officer?
- Which funny stories do you have the least details about?
- Which ideas have humor that is so unique to you that it would be hard to understand by adcoms or even the average person?
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How to Write the Smith College Essays 2016-2017
Boys, look out! Smith College is an all-women’s institution, one that was founded during a time (1871) when women had nearly no way of achieving an education equal to that available to men. Over the years, it became evident that Smith College’s radical idea of educating women equally actually proved very successful. Though the modern woman has more opportunities than ever before, Smith College still remains dedicated to its original mission of providing women with a stellar liberal arts education. And of course, this long lasting tradition has evolved over time into greater success for the school: Of all the women’s liberal arts colleges in the United States, Smith College is the largest, and it continues to attract countless women to its campus each year. Many remarkable women that you may know of were once applicants themselves. Alumnae of the school include many famous and accomplished women, such as Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan (imagine the White House’s past), Julia Child (think French cuisine), Sylvia Plath (poetry is her specialty), and Margaret Mitchell (heard of “Gone with the Wind”?).
If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of those famed alumnae, you must work hard to make your application the best it can be – after all, Smith College’s acceptance rate sits at a low 36%. This all starts with the essay, which is a perfect opportunity to present your personal story and also who you are. We’ll guide you through how to handle Smith College’s essay for this year.
For the 2016 to 2017 application cycle, Smith College’s single essay prompt is as follows:
“We know that colleges ask a lot of hard questions on their applications. This one is not so hard and we promise, there is no hidden agenda – just have fun! We have all heard the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine.’ Recount a time when something really made you laugh. (200 word limit)”
Below, we’ll outline each of the steps required to properly answer this question.
OVERVIEW: You may notice that the word limit here is a brief 200 words. That being said, this prompt is not the place to write about the most elaborate joke you have on record. You may also note that Smith College is telling you to “just have fun,” which would imply a certain level of creativity should be present in your response. This question is pretty self-explanatory; you are to describe a funny situation or experience to the adcoms.
STEP 1: Once you’re asked to think about a time that made you laugh, it’s really hard to think of just that. You may be searching your mind through and through for the golden funny moment, but it might not come. The key is to brainstorm all you can think of right now and write it down on a sheet of paper. Unless you’re absolutely certain you found the golden moment that you’d like to share, let the prompt sit in your mind for a few days so that you can continue letting ideas seep into your head. As soon as they do, write them down on your list. *Keep in mind that the essay is a perfect chance to showcase who you are as a person. This funny moment should communicate something about you – perhaps a quirky sense of humor, a particular interest of yours, an ability to be good-natured even during trying times… the list goes on.
STEP 2: Now that you have a list gathered of all the funny ideas you could present, it’s time to start narrowing down the ideas. Now, think through the following questions:
There are many other criteria in addition to the above that you may consider when going through the elimination process. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas properly, it is time to finalize which one you’d like to write about.
STEP 3: It’s time to start writing! Remember to apply your creativity, write with a strong voice, and follow all the standards and conventions of the English language. (It’s easy to forget that funny jokes still need to follow the rules of English!) With such a short and fun prompt, it is okay to forgo an introduction in favor of just a hook that leads into the joke. There are lots of different ways to accomplish this, including a relevant quote, an opening scene that will define the setting or humor for the rest of your essay, or a sample of immediate action that will plunge your readers straight into the situation. Next, fill in the body of your essay with the experience you settled upon earlier. You need not end with a conclusion paragraph – it isn’t practical, since there simply isn’t the space for that. Instead, wrap up your essay in a satisfying way, perhaps invoking the punchline of your joke for the last sentence. If you cannot (or choose not to) end on your punchline, you may decide to reference your hook for some original added humor after the punchline. As you can see, there are many ways you can approach the beginning and the end of your essay! Once you are done, read through the essay multiple times yourself for edits. Have teachers, parents, mentors, and other helpful adults aid you in your essay editing as well.
Now that you have a general idea of how to properly respond to Smith College’s prompt, it’s time to let the funny moments roll out of your brain. We highly recommend that you don’t procrastinate, even though this essay may seem like a simple one on the surface! Every word and idea counts, especially when it comes to a competitive school like Smith College. In the meantime, you may consider visiting the campus of Smith College to check out the campus and get some inspiration. Good luck on your essay!