The Essay that Killed a Thousand Stories: Writing the College Essay in the Age of Self-Branding (Why Analysis Doesn't Translate on Fox News)

~As anyone in the orbit of a seventeen-year-old will know, college admissions have become staggeringly challenging at the nation's top schools, requiring students to fashion themselves into superheroes to have a shot at acceptance (Stanford's 2014 admit rate was 5%). This is a particularly dangerous process for the generation raised on social media, who have been using Facebook, Instagram, and other social-media platforms to create stylized versions of themselves for public consumption since their parents gave them their first iPhone. Trained in self-branding, these kids can find the college essay almost impossible to write: they've never been encouraged to use their own voices in narrative form, to speak authentically. With the stakes so high, they're terrified.


Friday, March 20, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
7:00 PM - Registration/Wine & Cheese



4455 Morena Boulevard, Suite 202
San Diego, CA 92117
United States
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SDPC Members free, non-members $25, students $15

Educational Objective(s)

  • Explain how a psychodynamically informed understanding of societal expectations around college entrance can inform improved clinical care, with reference to specific interventions.
  • Apply concepts and techniques discussed in the presentation to their own work as clinicians working with adolescents and families.

Presenter Information

~For fifteen years, Lacy Crawford, a writer and former teacher, worked as an independent college-applications counselor to children all over the U.S. and Europe, helping them write essays that were, in many cases, transformative in their lives. Then she had her own child, hung up her spurs, and wrote Early Decision, a book based on the horrors of the admissions process. Written in the context of the author's own psychoanalysis, the book aimed to give parents and students perspective on the admissions race. Her essay on the subject for the Wall Street Journal went viral over Labor Day weekend, but when the news outlets started to call, they didn't want to hear about maturity and development.