Give Us Your Voice

“When I was little, I licked my cat.”

The student who began his college application essay with that sentence was admitted to Columbia University; parents who heard it during a college night presentation last week cringed and let out a collective “eeuw.”

“This was a good essay,” Columbia University Admissions Officer Jamie Farris told us. “It was about political power. You can be bold in your writing, or you can be conservative. Just give us your voice.”

The program included representatives from three Ivy League schools (Columbia, Cornell and Brown), Rice University and the University of Chicago.

Wow Writing Workshop regularly attends presentations like this one to keep current on the competitive admissions process.  We’ve noticed a common theme: everyone talks about voice in the essay.

In fact, Jim Cotter, MSU’s dean of admissions, told me during  a recent lunch meeting in East Lansing that voice is more important than grammar or spelling in a personal statement. While that may not be true for all universities, there is no denying that voice is crucial.

“The tone of a 17-year-old is far different from the tone of a 40-year-old parent,” Cotter said. “I can tell the difference.”

Everyone agrees voice matters, but it can be hard to find people who can help you draw it out. We know how to do it; the Wow Method teaches  tried-and-true techniques that will help you express yourself in your own unique voice, in your own words.

Go to to find a class near you, or to set up a small group workshop for you and your friends. Classes begin at $100.