Learn How to Reflect with Frazz Comic Strip

Jef Mallett, Universal UClick    Original strip published @GoComics

My friend, Jef Mallett, creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip, Frazz, tells a story every day using just a few square and rectangular frames. I’ve often compared his strip to the college essay.

The similarities are unmistakable in this recent strip showing Frazz walking into the water from the beach to swim across the Straits of Mackinac. In this story, Jef asks the same critical question we ask all of our students as they prepare to write their personal statements for their college applications: Why?

Jef is a deep thinker, a tad philosophical, and he generally illustrates something Frazz learned through an experience, in this case swimming in treacherous waters. The best college essays do not need to be deep or philosophical, but you should be able to reflect upon a moment you learned something significant about yourself.

In this one moment, getting into the water to swim, I began to understand the big picture. Why did Frazz choose to swim across those waters? Because he can. Why not? It’s all part of life’s journey of discovery.

I felt like I was standing with Frazz in the cold water, contemplating life’s purpose. College admissions officers want to feel that type of connection when they read your college essay.

Jef actually did the real Mighty Mac fundraising swim on Labor Day; the current was strong and carried Jef and the other swimmers about 4 miles out of their way, turning the estimated 4-mile swim into a brutal 9-mile race. But Jef finished, felt great, and as a bonus, raised $14,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

Seniors, I am not suggesting you swim through dangerous, choppy waters, or do some other extreme race (unless you are well trained). But you can learn a lot about reflection from this short, focused story that shows why Frazz did the swim. If Jef can make a point in four frames, you can certainly write your college essay in 650 words or less!

At Wow, we teach our students how to reflect and stand out inside the admissions office. We talk to admissions officers all the time, and we know what they want to read in an essay.

I’m going to share our best teaching tips and resources with high school counselors and admissions officers later this week when I moderate an all-star panel, What Admission Wants in an Essay: How to Instruct Your Students, during the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s annual meeting in San Diego. Our panel includes the top admissions officers from Cornell and UC-Berkeley, and high school counselors representing large urban and small private high schools.

We’re excited to be part of this major industry event, and we’ll keep you in the loop. Tune in to Facebook and Twitter to follow us at the conference.