Princeton Supplement Essay

It might be best to look at a few examples of folks who know how to work a quote into an essay–you might try reading some Montaigne, or for a modern idiom, you could try this link, to Paul Theroux’s the Old Patagonian Express, and read pages 3-6, which don’t begin with a quote, but he soon uses multiple quotes and you can see a good example of quote and content being integrated there..

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On two of Princeton's essay, it says: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you.

(About 150 words) 250 words max Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held.

The first thing to think about with this prompt: starting with a quote can be hackneyed and the quote intro can also be used thoughtlessly or clumsily–for example, by jumping from the quote to a more-or-less unrelated idea in such a way that the quote is really an excuse to start an essay more than a true starting point.

The idea is that the opening quote should be integrated into or lead naturally into the opening paragraph and so flow on through the rest of the essay.

If you were cynical, you might draw the conclusion that this essay is a trap.

An optimist might argue that Princeton is trying to breathe life into a venerable style of essay. Anything which is treated witlessly can become a cliché.And while reading books like those I link can be useful, you are writing an essay about a concern here that happens to be social as well’ you are not writing a a book report or an essay for class. So don’t suddenly become a civil rights advocate or advocate for the poor just in time to write this essay.For some more guidance on how to write about a topic like this, my old post on the service essay for Princeton actually (and perhaps ironically) works well– click to the right and scroll down to find the quote about not being a hand wringer, and read from there. Breaking it down, the important things are “things’ from “culture” that will make life meaningful. which I consider hallmarks of Western Civ, at least as ideals for the last four hundred years.In that sense, the spirit of service in the old Woodrow Wilson prompt lives on, here defined by a concern with inequality and racism–and presumably a desire to change things for the better, i.e. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.Does this mean you need to write an essay on race or race relations?If you go with this topic, keep in mind the potential pitfalls of writing about disparities and problems of race and money– looking arrogant or paternalistic or simplistic or self righteous as you insert yourself into the problems of others.So if you choose to write about culture or disparities, try to do so without looking like some kind of imperialist in a pith helmet.I include a review of the history of these prompts, the writing situation, and examples of strategies with links to key information for writing successful essays.What is New for This Year in The Princeton Supplemental Essays?Not necessarily–it’s more advice about what I would call atmospherics–keep in mind that our country, which was supposedly post-racial during the Obama presidency, has rediscovered its problem with race as well as with economic inequality, and the disappearance of President Wilson from the prompts roster at Princeton is one sign of that.You might want to have a look at Professor Wasow’s background and the speech that inspired this prompt, and to delve into the online community he started, Blackplanet, as you think about this one.

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