The committee just wants to see you know how to organize your thoughts and express them in a coherent fashion.
By Audrey McAuliffe, High School Guidance Counselor
Alex, I see you’ve filled out all of the proper forms for your college applications, and arranged for your SAT and SAT-II scores to be sent to the institutions of your choice. But there’s still one thing missing: the required essay on how you intend to portray your thinly-veiled antisemitism as mere anti-Zionism.
Most colleges and universities make that essay mandatory, Alex. I know you might be uncomfortable committing to a specific course of action that you can lay out in such an essay, but college admissions offices take these tings very seriously. Admission grows more and more competitive every year at the schools you’ve chosen, and you’re going to need every point in your favor if you’re to sway the admissions committee in your favor. You can’t be seen as someone who takes the easy way out, or who has hesitation about using anti-Jewish slurs at a protest against some imagined Israeli offense.
You don’t even have to follow through on the plan you present. The committee just wants to see you know how to organize your thoughts and express them in a coherent fashion. It’s less about how you intend to choose which Jews to harass and threaten, and more about using your writing prowess to demonstrate you’ve given this topic the requisite consideration. No one at these colleges is going to monitor your adherence to such a plan and place you on probation for failing to stick to it. Not at the places you’ve applied, anyway; Oberlin and the University of California system aren’t your concern right now.
The committee knows the harsh reality of campus life has a way of short-circuiting even the best-laid plans for intimidating Jews under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism. You might not encounter any obvious Jews; you might only encounter Jews who share your anti-Jewish prejudices; you might be stymied by incompetent administration or security personnel who protect Jewish students instead of facilitating what’s right. Colleges know that. They won’t hold it against you the way Jews are collectively held responsible for the shameful actions of individuals.
So Alex, I urge you to complete the essay in time to include it with your application. It’s true the instructions say the essay is optional, but do you really want to be going up against other applicants who have taken the time and effort to outline their approach to Jew-bashing under the banner of anti-Zionism? I think we both know which position you’d rather be in.