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4Moms: Figuring out the college essay

September 21, 2013|By Mary MacVean
  • Author Lacy Crawford talks about applying to college.
Author Lacy Crawford talks about applying to college. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

Lacy Crawford’s novel of college application frenzy, “Early Decision,” has plenty of rich people behaving badly. It also has plenty of young people trying to find their way in the fray of deciding the next chapter of their lives.

The stories came from her life as a college application counselor, and she talked to us for a 4Moms chat about college applications, and the anxiety of the personal essay – just as the application season heats up.

A former high school English teacher, Crawford found that her “brilliant” students had written college essays that were “not very good,” she says. The reason was straight-forward: They had never been taught to write personal essays.

Her work as a college advisor grew out of helping those students through one of the most anxiety-producing parts of applying to college. And her first novel was the result of that career.

 “There is a horrible trap that some parents fall into,” she says. “They have a wonderful student who is a B+, A- kid who does a lot of things and has a lot of friends and a lot of teacher support and they really, really want that kid to go to an Ivy League school or to get into Berkeley or to get into U Va. Or to get into whatever the trophy campus is. And it’s not going to happen" for several reasons.

That pressure undoes "years of really great parenting” Crawford says. It’s disheartening for the students, doesn’t change which colleges accept them and saps their self-confidence.

She doesn’t recommend whirlwind tours of so many college campuses, but she says looking at colleges is inspiring to teenager about what could be ahead for them.

Crawford, whose own children have yet to reach kindergarten age, hopes she’ll take her own advice when the time comes.

mary.macVean@latimes.com

@mmacvean on Twitter

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