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美国本科申请新essay topic解读
作者: 涂攀

申请美国本科,大部分学校需要通过Common application(通用申请)系统来完成申请,目前美国有488所大学通过Common application申请系统,申请人在填写common application的表格后,不用再单独填写每个学校的申请表,同时common application系统有两篇文书题目,申请人完成这两篇文书后,这两篇文书也适用所有申请的学校,即common application通过统一各个学校的申请表格和文书题目,使申请人的工作量大大简化。一般来说,一套通用申请,外加学校的补充文书,即可满足大部分学校的申请要求。

Common application的文书题目(essay topic)近几年很少变动,但日前该机构发布声明,自2013年8月1日起,通用申请的文书题目将变更,这无疑对2013年下半年申请美国本科的学生有很大影响。
(通用申请机构新闻稿: New Look, Same Mission

以下对新的文书题目和现行的文书题目做一对比和解读。

2013年8月1日启用的新的文书题目:

Instructions: The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice.  What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? (博主注: 写作目的) Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.  Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal.  Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so.  (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
说明: 申请文书体现的是你对所选择的主题,能够用清晰、简洁的语言表达,同时通过你自己的语言让你与众不同。除了你上的课程、分数及考试成绩等信息,你希望申请审核人了解你是一个什么样的人。从以下主题中选择一个完成写作,字数不多于650字,但不少于250字。

• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 
有些学生有一个背景或故事,这个背景和故事是那么的重要,以至于没有这个背景和故事,他们的申请就不完整。如果这是你,请分享你的故事。

• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
描述你经历失败的事件或者时刻,它如何影响你,你从中学到什么?

• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you 
make the same decision again?
回想当你挑战一个信仰或者想法的时刻,什么促使你去这样做?现在你是否还会像当时那样做?

• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience 
there, and why is it meaningful to you?
描述一个使你非常满意的地方或者环境。你在那做了什么或者经历了什么,为什么那个地方对你有意义。

• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from 
childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
论述一个在你的文化、社区、家庭范围之内的成就或者事件,正式的或非正式的,使你完成了从童年到成年的转换。

附现行common application 文书题目:
Please write an essay of 250 – 500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. (博主注: 写作目的)
NOTE: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges. Do not customize it in any way for individual colleges. Colleges that want customized essay responses will ask for them on 
a supplement form.  
1、Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
2、Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
3、 Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
4、 Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
5、A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
6、Topic of your choice.

新的文书题目和现行文书题目的区别:
1、最大的区别是: 新的文书题目取消了topic of your choice这项具有广泛写作空间的题目。topic of your choice意味着common application可以随心所欲地写任何你想写的topic,去掉这个题目后,新的文书题目全部成为命题式作文,当你选择哪一个topic时,即需要安装这个topic的问题来完成。如新的essay topic第2、3、4题,涉及好几个问题,写作时需要兼顾到,不能漏掉其中一方面。

2、字数从250--500字改为250--650字,即篇幅略有增长,有利于申请人完整地表达自己的经历和思想。

3、topic内容全部更换,变得更为具体,并且各个和学生本人密切相关。比如现行essay topic的第4题,描述一部小说或者作品中的人物,谈这个人物最自己的影响,相对来说比较抽象。新的题目中完全舍弃了这些比较抽象的题目,每一个都需要从自己的经历和成长环境出发。

4、文书写作目的略有变化: 
现行的文书写作目的是:This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. 
(通过文书帮助我们了解你除了成绩和考试分数等客观性数据之外,你是一个什么样的人和学生。同时展现你组织自己思想和表达自己的能力)
新的文书写作目的是: 
The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? 
可以看到主要变化是在第一句,重点考察申请人清晰、简洁的写作能力,同时distinguish yourself in your own voice。清晰体现的是逻辑能力,简洁体现的是字数要求,并用自己的语言表达。

总之,新的文书题目更加具体,更加个性化,但中国学生的一个问题是,大部分的高中生埋头于课业与考试中,阅历比较贫乏,甚至谈失败的经历只能想到考试考砸了,导致没有什么可写的内容。如果你准备申请2014年秋季及以后入学,那么请从现在开始,多增加一些经历,同时思考一下以上提到的四个topic,提前准备。你首先得让自己成为一个有故事的人,如此,你写的故事才会精彩!
作者: 涂攀
【注: 原创文章,抄袭可耻,转载请注明出处和作者姓名】


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