Student Question

"I'm thinking about writing a satirical essay poking fun at the typical applicant who exaggerates his accomplishments. Is it worth the risk?"

My Response

Is your satire essay for an application to a reach, target, or safety school?

If you're considering satire for a target or safety school, then I'm not sure the risk is worth the potential reward. Satire/sarcasm sometime falls flat in person, and it's even dicier in writing. Will the writer know if you're making fun of yourself or will she just think you're full of yourself? When you're applying to a school where your chances are already good, you might not want to take that chance of offending the reader.

At the same time, if you're applying to a long-shot school (like any Ivy, or any school where your SAT/ACT <25th percentile), then you don't have much to lose. Maybe you gamble.

You can have different strategies for different groups of schools - take advantage of the fact the Common App lets you create different versions of your app.

Final Thoughts

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Jon Perkins holds a B.A. in English from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He helps students with their college, law school, and medical school applications.