Preparing for College

Adolescent "Idiocy" and College Application Essay

Question: Adolescent idiocy - how do colleges view that? My 11th grade marks slipped very badly, simply because I was fool enough to ignore academics. But I honestly regret it, so how do I explain it to colleges? I was planning to write my essay on "growing up"....will it be acceptable?

You can certainly write a college essay on the follies of your youth (last year ;-)) and, if it’s done with good humor and with a clear emphasis on what you’ve learned in the process, it could be a helpful part of your application.

You might, however, consider writing your primary college essay on something else and then submit a supplementary one (or use the “Additional Information” space that you’ll find on many applications) to explain your “Junioritis.” This would send a message to admission committees that proclaims, “Yes I did screw up, but there’s more to me than just that.”

But do keep in mind that, while many admission officials will be sympathetic to your plight, even the best explanatory essay won’t give you a full “Get out of jail free” card. Depending on where you are applying, you are likely to be “competing” with lots of other candidates who had the foresight and wisdom to buckle down in 11th grade. So, although I do feel that it would be worthwhile for you to explain your academic downturn to admission folks, even the best essay won’t allow you to get off scot-free.