By Ryan, 9 Ada Merritt K-8 Center Miami, Florida

25 essays over 25 weeks is “like a real job”? Try a second job. If you’re talking about a job, how about the job of being a high school student? — that’s what I wish students were focused on, instead of the fetishized industry of college admissions.

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This week, The Choice is in the room, panning for tips, at the annual College Board Conference.

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Mr. Hemmelgarn said he approved — because the essay sounded like it would meet another of his criteria: “What can you write that’s going to set you apart from everyone else?”

I’m so glad I went to college 40 years ago.

One counselor in the audience immediately raised her hand to say that one of her high school students was in the process of writing just such an essay — about learning Flamenco in Spain — that promised to be unique and memorable. The boy’s theme (and yes, it was a boy)? “When am I ever going to do that again?”

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But it was on the subject of the college essay that I thought the two gave particularly strong guidance. For example, Mr. Hemmelgarn requires his juniors to write 25 sample college essays — using actual questions from the University of Chicago and Ohio State, among others — in 25 weeks, at home. His mantra? “Practice makes better.”

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One example of his caring for me and others is expressed through the way that he helps my classmates have a neat and clean table in the cafeteria. Oftentimes, after breakfast is served in the morning, scraps of food and trash remain at our table. My dad will clean up our table by removing every piece of trash until the table is cleared. He does this without being asked to do so, and, he never expects to be thanked or recognized for his actions. He is like a robot with all of the stuff he does for me. He is the nicest robot, but, it’s amazing because he is not a robot.

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All of these wonderful things about my dad are true and I wanted to share it with you. He is like the manager of the nicest crew. Who knew that he was that amazing? I knew because he is the “wonderful light of my life.”

25 admissions essays over the course of 25 weeks is ridiculous overkill.

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Mr. Hemmelgarn was speaking this afternoon as part of a panel on the junior-year experience at the annual convention of the College Board in New York City. Over the next two and a half days, hundreds of counselors and admissions officers will attend dozens of sessions on all aspects of the high school and college-admissions experience.

As those of you who read my recent article () know, I’m not a big fan of the College Board.

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Mr. Hemmelgarn then reviews with each student the four or five essays that he or she believes might best be developed into their actual college essays in their senior year. For readers of The Choice who are juniors (or their parents), I see no reason why the same exercise couldn’t be repeated by any junior on one’s own — with a counselor or favorite teacher then enlisted as a sounding board.

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My dad is very fun to be around. He is also a nice person. Whenever I need stuff for school, my Dad is always available to go to the store. He does things unselfishly to help me and others.