The Guardian asked a few different writers to imagine they were 18 and re-applying to college… but instead of writing an admissions essay packed with random achievements to sell themselves, they have to be perfectly honest about why they want to attend that particular school.
Richard Dawkins offered this alternative essay for admission into Oxford:
I’m not an admissions counselor, but an essay like that would be *so* much more appealing to me than the cookie-cutter kinds of essays I’m used to seeing from students.
I’d like to come to Oxford to read biology, but I really haven’t got a very good reason. I drifted into the biological stream at school, partly through the influence of an inspiring teacher but mostly just following in father’s footsteps. Biology probably is my best subject, but that isn’t saying much. I’m a lousy naturalist, which may disappoint my parents, and I’m not great at laboratory work. But I have started to think about deep questions of existence. Why are we here? How does life come to exist on this planet? Why is it the way it is? I think evolutionary biology is the right area to find answers, and I know Oxford is world class in evolution. If the competition isn’t too severe, perhaps you might take a chance on me? I’d like the opportunity to surprise you.
(via John Sargeant)