Students and families often ask me what risks are worth taking in their undergraduate application essays. My advice is always to be genuine, and know that there is always the possibility that the most sincere experimental essay will not be approved of by every reader. Admission committees are human (yes, real people!) and, at least in my experience, we could tell the difference between a student pulling a prank in an essay versus a student with genuine, thought-out goals for their non-traditional approaches.

When I saw this article tonight, I immediately saw that this student’s life outside of homework was full of activism. Even his Twitter handle nods to his activist values. Repeating the popular slogan “#BlackLivesMatter” was a risk, but a calculated one, allowing this student to give a voice to the activist elements in the rest of his application. I applaud Ziah Ahmed for his non-traditional essay approach and for finding a way to capture the energy of a slogan in the written word. I wish him the best of luck in selecting which university he will enroll in for the fall.

To read more about his story from NBC news, click here.

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