The other day my son asked me if Daddy was driving him to school. So, of course, ever the suspicious mom that I am, I immediately thought, “Why is my child choosing my husband, ‘the fun one,’ over me, ‘the pragmatic one,’” so of course, asked, “Why?”
“When you drive me, we listen to the Broadway Channel. When dad does, we listen to Howard Stern.”
I love Broadway musicals. In fact, if I am not listening to a podcast or audiobook, then I can be found belting out a song while listening to a song list that I believe Seth Rudestky created solely for me.
I agree with our essay specialist Hillary Kessler who recently wrote a blog about the theme song for the purpose of the college admissions essay where she too references a Broadway show. Read it here. It true; the essay is all about is about Getting to Know You - not what you have done, but who you are.
While I have come across the occasional student who, at the age of 17, has a full conviction of who they are, most students - appropriately so - are still trying to figure that out. Heck, I am not sure at 53 that I have figured out who I am.
Yet in 650 words, students need to tell the world - well, at least the admissions committee at one or more schools - who they are, what they value, who shaped them, and what experiences led them to be who they are or who they want to be.
A common brainstorming technique that college essay specialists often use with their students is to have them develop a playlist of songs that describe their life and the experiences they have had so far. I admit it, I too, use this as one of my icebreaker activities during our essay workshops.
While most students will not use the actual song in their essays, many students use the songs they brainstorm to help inspire their writing.
For a recent article on the Santa Clara Admissions Blog, the author interviewed their student ambassadors on their songs which helped get them in the writing mood. (Don’t worry - you don’t need to share this with your children, we can - just have them follow us on Instagram, where we post tips and advice on all things college admissions. Or fill out this form, and we can add them to our “For Students Eye’s Only” newsletter email list.)
Speaking of songs, this past year, I had four students looking to study acting or musical theater and one who is heading off to study comedic arts! One of them wrote a beautiful essay in the form of an acceptance speech for her first Tony Award - which she said was inspired by this writing activity.
Last week I took a much-needed vacation (well, I took my own rising senior on some college trips - but that is for another blog post). Since I hate flying, I created playlists to listen to on the plane to help me relax. I appropriately shaped them into playlists for each of the 7 Common Application prompts.
In the spirit of NYC’s recent announcement that Broadway is set to reopen this September, here is a list of some of my favorite show tunes to help inspire students to tackle the first prompt.
I hope you enjoy my song choices - I apologize in advance if you start singing along!
And, if you have a budding actor or someone who just likes to sing in the shower, in your house, share these songs with them, as they will be writing the essay, not you!
Common Application Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Corner of the Sky - Pippin
I’ve Gotta Be Me – Golden Rainbow
Watch Me Shine - Legally Blonde
The Music and the Mirror - A Chorus Line
Tomorrow - Annie
Wonderful - Wicked
I Can Do Anything Better Than You - Annie Get Your Gun
Some People - Gypsy
Electricity - Billy Elliot
Don't Rain on My Parade - Funny Girl
Register your rising senior now so they can Head Toward Summer with their common application essay done!