What it is: Authored only by Kentucky applicants, this is the essay you wrote about your “unique” and life-affirming experience at the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program.

Sample (not submitted by actual applicant): “I had never shaken so many hands or said my name so many times. Hi, I’m Jim from Louisville, shake hands. It was an introduction repeated so many times that the words had lost their meaning, transformed into random sounds. I had been promised that some of these people would become lifelong friends, but with every hand shaken I found myself thinking, ‘This GSP thing better be worth it.’

GSP is shorthand for the Governor’s Scholars Program, a five-week intellectual and cultural paradise hosted on three college campuses in Kentucky. Of course, this definition could never give my experience justice. I found myself interacting with people from backgrounds so foreign to my own that every conversation was an opportunity to learn something new. My fellow scholars broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the plethora of cultures that make up our American heritage. No doubt, the lessons I learned and the people I met will be with me for the rest of my life.”

Why you wrote it: Not only was GSP an important event that helped shape your perspective of the world beyond your hometown, but the Program is never shy about reminding scholars that they’re “the best and brightest in Kentucky.”

Why admission counselors hate to read it: While not all Governor’s Scholars are guilty of this cliché, many seem to imply that they’re special because they attended this special program. Yes, you are special, but when you use GSP as the justification for your distinctive character you should know that your experience is not unlike those of a thousand other Scholars, many of whom are also interested in the highest ranked college in their state.

Solution: GSP is a once in a lifetime experience (when you’re 18 years-old), and it will have undoubtedly had a powerful impact on you as you’re growing into an adult. So if you have to write about it, try focusing on an event or relationship that uses GSP as the backdrop. We don’t need a play-by-play of how the program is structured.

Also, be careful not to write a characterless essay in which you’re simply describing how intimate seminar was, or how your general studies exposed you to something new, or how all the different people you met broadened your cultural horizons. The micro will trump the macro in a GSP essay ten times out of ten…especially if you’re a Kentucky student applying in-state.

“Cliché Essay” is a new series of posts reflecting on the stalest admission essay topics we’ve received at Centre. Watch over the coming days for more entries as we reveal the top five topics you should reconsider before committing a crime of mediocrity.

  • Caleb Sheehan

    I’m writing my essay for the Common App right now, and you’ll never guess what the subject is =/nnI’m not having a problem with making my essay un-cliche, but I’m trying to tailor it so that Centre admissions doesn’t get bored reading it, but other colleges understand what GSP is. Any suggestions as to how to do this?n

  • Anonymous

    Well, I’ve had an idea and I hope you guys like it as much as I do. Rather than devoting paragraphs of text describing GSP to the other colleges on my CommonApp list, I described it very briefly, then added hyperlinks in parenthesis to the end of the sentence. I hope that’s appropriate… nnPS: I also cited this page in my essay, so if you get a big surge in views sometime after January 1st, you can thank me with a big giant scholarship offer!nnPPS: If you’re another college viewing this page because of my essay, you better up your scholarship offers!

  • http://www.theadmissioncentre.com Adam Brown

    The good news here, Caleb, is that Kentucky is not the only state to offer a governor’s school, nor are Kentucky colleges the only ones familiar with how they’re run. So, you have quite a bit of leeway in how much you actually have to describe about GSP itself.nnAnd even if other colleges aren’t familiar with governor’s schools, they’re not really going to be too interested in them anyway. The real meat of the essay should be about you, your experience (preferably a concise one), and how it’s illustrative of who you are. Everything else is likely to be skimmed anyway.nnUse GSP as a setting, or even better: a footnote. Let the discrete story you tell about your time there be 95 to 97 percent of your text. Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    That’s very good news for me! Thank you!

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