College Essay Collections


The cover of the 2020 collection, with a photograph by Mimi Lohanimit ’20.

Emily Yuan, Campus Reporter

Starting in 2019, the English Department has been hosting a college essay contest in which all sixth-formers can participate. Students can become a member of the selection committee or submit their own essays for consideration. Those deemed the “best” by the student selection committee are bound and published in a volume that all members of the form receive as a keepsake of their class. 

English Teacher Ms. Morris solicits submissions and meets with the selection committee to discuss them. It usually takes two rounds of cuts before the final group of essays is chosen.

“It’s always interesting to hear students talk about the writing of their peers and what they think should be included,” shared Ms. Morris. Students are adamant that the collection should represent a broad range of Kent students, including those about sports, family members, music, art, and abstract things. “They aren’t always the” best” essays, but they represent everyone.”

In the discussions of college essays, Ms. Morris sees that students have passions that they deeply care about, which motivate them to become better people. “Our students are all aware that they’re on a journey to be adults and find a way to express their pursuits,” Ms. Morris said, smiling. She expressed her gratitude toward her colleagues and the college counselors for their work with students, and says she is happy to get to know more students by reading their essays. 

Understanding that students are stressed about representing themselves to admissions officers through their essays, Ms. Morris hopes that the college essay contest “is more of a support of other voices” and that “students look at the collection not only as a teaching tool for English 3 and English 4, but this is also who their graduating class is.” 

Maybe every once five years, Kent can publish a special edition that reflects what each generation cares about. “It would be fun to offer them to alumni and visiting families, as the college essays are an example of how students think and express themselves,” Ms. Morris said.