Do Ivy League Schools Expect Too Much In Their Application Essays?

I was recently asked to help an 18 year old write an Ivy League college entrance exam essay. And maybe it’s because I haven’t written one in a while, but I found it absolutely ridiculous how much experience Ivy League schools expect young people to have before even reaching the legal drinking age.

The questions they ask teenagers to answer, such as life changing and altering experiences in travel, leadership, honesty, and other things are so overrated, especially for someone who is barely legal to vote or marry. Many haven’t had the opportunity to engage in one meaningful relationship, let alone many and in various circumstances.

How many life altering things do they think really happen to the average kid before they turn 18? Or do they only hope to admit those who have lead difficult, broken, and abused lives?

But if that’s the case, then they are in fact promoting all the things that no child wants to endure – divorce, poverty, alienation, etc.. Because let’s face it, those questions require answers that come only from challenges and hardships that most parents try to shield their children from.

College should be a place where kids learn about these things. This is where kids should be exposed to all these coming of age milestones, when they are legal adults, and more physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to handle these sorts of situations.

As I was reading the question choices and considering the kinds of answers that would be most appropriate and impressive to the admissions committees, a thought dawned on me. I was the most qualified to write these essays. My life and life challenges, failures, successes and overall experiences are what would make these essays interesting and even get me into these schools.

The only problem is that I’ve already graduated with a bachelors in Communications and have no intention of continuing my education or applying to any of these universities.

Do Ivy League schools expect too much from our kids, or do we just not expect enough from our teenagers, who are constantly struggling to be treated more like adults? Perhaps if we gave kids more hardships and challenges to deal with, they would have a better chance of getting into all these prestigious universities.

But if an 18 year old had to endure all that I have gone through in over 30 years, what would that person be like when he or she finally reached true adulthood?

Perhaps in their quest to find the brightest, smartest and best individuals, Ivy League schools are actually promoting kids and their parents to engage in and lead unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles.