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When Marquis Scholar Kari Andersen ’08 (Patchogue, N.Y.) finished her essay for college applications, she didn’t realize it would go beyond her goal of getting into Lafayette.

Her essay has been published in a book, McGraw-Hill’s Writing an Outstanding College Application Essay, which will be released next month.

“It wasn’t anything momentous,” she says of her essay subject. “It wasn’t like I won the game with a goal. It was a collection of my thoughts … life in general.”

The essay describes a secluded area at her home, “a spot where I sit and think about things,” she says. Her room has a ledge outside, like a porch, where she often sat and watched the lights of commuters’ cars stream past on the Sunrise Highway. “I’m far enough away that I don’t hear it,” she explains.

Yet, it is close enough to inspire her writing. Although she loves writing, Andersen has no aspirations of becoming a professional poet or novelist.

“I’m a closet writer,” she says. “I don’t show it to many people. I enjoy putting some creativity and little twists in it.”

She says her writing technique and style, exploring language and vocabulary, sets her work apart.

“The way I articulate myself in the essay is different,” she says. “It’s not the standard introduction. … It just starts.”

The best writing often breaks rules. She employs her successful technique in some of her work at Lafayette.

“In my papers I try to differentiate from the standard outline of a standard essay,” Andersen says. “When something’s unique it stands out.”

The book makes that point as well, taking students through the procedures of writing the essay, with sections showing average essays, risk takers, and essays that sing. There are also examples of great beginnings and conclusions.

Estelle Rankin and Barbara Murphy co-authored the book, which was published by McGraw-Hill of New York City. Now educational consultants as well as professional writers, Rankin and Murphy both taught at prestigious Jericho High School, where they developed the school’s advanced placement program. This is their fourth book together.

Andersen’s essay evokes a sense of place, which captured the authors’ attention, according to Rankin. She says the essay is “a lovely, descriptive musing” which shows “a maturity of style” as Andersen slides in facts about herself and weaves in larger philosophical issues before bringing things back to her aspirations and realities.

“We wanted to hear a voice, and I think we hear Kari’s voice,” Rankin adds. “Her strength is that she’s an interesting person. That comes through with her diction.”

Andersen enjoyed an interesting first year at Lafayette. Having come from a public high school, she had never spent much time away from home.

“You learn to be independent,” she says. “I gained a tight group of friends.”

Moreover, the small class sizes at Lafayette allow access to her professors, such as Ann McGillicuddy-DeLisi, Metzgar Professor and acting head of psychology, who has inspired an unexpected interest in psychology. Though she has yet to declare a major formally, Andersen says she’s leaning toward a double major in Spanish and psychology. She loves languages in general and believes the combination could offer opportunities in social work or teaching, which are both among the potential career roads she’s considering.

“I have really loved every aspect of Lafayette, especially the outlets they offer you,” says Andersen, who participated in club lacrosse and club volleyball and was president of her residence hall.

Andersen placed out of many courses after successfully completing AP courses in high school, so she’s looking forward to attacking her major requirements and preparing to go abroad to Spain during her junior year.

But sophomore year comes first, with the prospect of pledging a sorority, which excites Andersen.

“They’re all connected to some philanthropy,” she remarks. “It’s supposed to be an event that changes you.”

Which will likely inspire her to write about the experience. Where she goes from there will be up to her.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Andersen receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course during January’s interim session between semesters. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

Categorized in: Academic News