Seong and I have spent the past two weeks helping seniors with their college application essays. I know that we're both getting paid for our services, but sometimes I feel like I'm doing volunteer work. Both Seong and I are committed to maintaining some standard of integrity: We might prompt a kid with essay topics or offer them some generous assistance with their grammar and syntax, but we truly try to avoid writing the essay or explicitly telling students what to write. Trust me. That's much harder than it sounds.
High schoolers can't help it. They're just prone to writing what they think admissions officers want to see. Plus, it's really hard to think and write about yourself when you only have 17 years of life under your belt. We've become writing tutors/therapists.
At the end of the day, I go away feeling like we've succeeded in helping students showcase their best qualities without creating any yarns, but it is pretty exhausting.
To help me recover, I've taken to listening to the the soundtrack for Pixar's Up. It's like optimism in a bottle. It makes me believe for a moment that helium balloons could actually carry a fully furnished house all the way to South America.