“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.”
The above is just one of seven essay questions that Ellis seniors can respond to in the Common App college application this year. While sharing a personal anecdote or belief in written form may seem simple, as a student, sharing your own story, in your own words, is something that takes skill and practice.
Beginning in grade 9, Ellis students explore themes of self-identity in English class through characters in modern texts. They sharpen their skills as critical thinkers and storytellers through class discussions, journal entries, and essays where they’re challenged to offer their own contemporary takes and perspectives. In Voice and Vision, the grade 9 Integrated Studies course, students are challenged to ask and seek answers to vital questions: Who am I, and what do I care about?
The exploration veers more formally toward college prep in grade 11 during Junior Seminar, a course that focuses on standardized test-taking skills and strategies, as well as the application process. In this class, students are once again given the space to consider what they will do after graduation as they are tasked with researching universities that match their interests and long-term goals. They also create a resume, draft a college essay, and examine the components of a college application. Throughout the whole process, girls are encouraged to incorporate their individual strengths, interests, and perspectives.
“There is nothing more important in life than accepting and embodying who you are while also desiring to grow,” said Keith Bryner, Director of College Counseling. “What really stands out in a college application is a student who is both authentic and aspirational. I urge students to embrace both their present and potential, and artfully articulate that in their essay. Do not ‘fake it until you make it’; make it, then find colleges and universities that want and ‘fit your it.’”
Multiple opportunities for self-reflection, at different touchpoints throughout the Upper School, are intentionally woven into the Ellis curriculum. So that when it comes time to write an application essay, to interview with an admissions officer, to shed light on an issue of importance to them—Ellis girls are ready and excited to broadcast their voices.
“By focusing on every student’s unique story, our program imparts transferable skills and positive perspectives to benefit our graduates both during their search and beyond,” said Mr. Bryner. “The skills developed in this realm are comprehensive and set our graduates up to be successful in their college goals and to be flexible and resilient people after their time at Ellis.”