Wednesday, December 31, 2008

uncommon app

Gray is sending out his college applications today. Although, because of demographics, it’s a lot harder to get in than way back when I was applying, the process itself is much easier. It’s all online, for one thing, and word processing means that you don’t have to waste time trying to get the sheets of paper to line up in the typewriter or carefully whiting out mistakes. (I remember that there was one college that I decided not to apply to solely on the basis that its application consisted of four or five pages, each one a different pastel color, and I had no idea where I’d be able to find pink, green, blue and yellow correction fluid).

In addition, these days, most of the colleges participate in a joint application form, the so-called common app, which allows you to put all your basic data and personal essays in one place. But, to complicate matters, most colleges also have supplements asking a set of their own, well, unique questions.

Like: List your relatives (siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents) who attended Snooty Old Ivy, including dates of matriculation and degrees received. Attach additional pages if necessary..

Or: Describe your talents, values and aspirations and explain with specificity how they will enhance the vibrant and diverse learning community at Tiny Liberal Arts College In The Middle of Nowhere.

Or: If all the world were paper and all the seas were ink and all the trees were bread and cheese, what would we have to drink? Discuss in an essay of no more than 300 words.

But I think my favorite supplemental question was the one that asks: What is your favorite word? There’s no room for an explanation; the answer is supposed to consist of just the word itself. I think that my favorite word would probably be hapax legomenon. And, yes, I realize that that’s actually two words, but, then again, my scores on the math SATs were not exactly stellar either.

What’s your favorite word? Or (which is not quite the same thing) how would you answer a question on a college application that asked what your favorite word was?

53 comments:

Rachel said...

Easy -- sesquipedalianism.

I love self-referential humor.

Aunt Becky said...

"Googly."

Yes, seriously.

Cheek said...

Chutzpah.

Tash said...

In seriousness: Onomatopoeia.

In gest (sort of): macabre.

Both for spelling (a skill at which I suck), meaning, and delicious sound.

Bella's kindergarten apps brought back a world of terror. My favorite (not) was 5 questions which essentially asked you to kiss the school's ass in 5 different ways: "How would your child contribute to the exciting program at Greatschool?" "What outstanding qualities at Greatschool do you think would benefit your child?" and on. Bleh. Wish him well. It's a jungle out there.

thordora said...

I'm so glad my kids just stay home and don't go to preschool. That's retarded.

My favorites? Ubiquitous and lurk.

The former cause I love me some vowels and it sounds cool.

The latter cause it's just fun to say, and you can LLLUUUURRRRRKKKK while saying "Lurk!"

yeah, I have issues.

Elspeth said...

Helicoidal

k@lakly said...

Fuck.

It just is. Sorry, I know my trailer trash roots are showing.

Happy New Year:)

Katie said...

drip

I like the sound it makes.

sharah said...

At the moment, "prosecco".

Carly said...

My favourite word is chocolate, not sure if I would actually put that down on a college application though!

The Nanny said...

Malheuresment. Sure, it's not English, but I love the way it rolls off my tongue. Coincidentally, it's also the world that I've seen at lot lately.

Here's hoping your Gray gets into Snooty Old Ivy, Tiny Liberal Arts College In The Middle of Nowhere, and everywhere else he applies.

Oh--and if you want some, well, unique essay questions, check out the University of Chicago's admissions essay questions.

Catherine said...

Hope.

Bon said...

today my favourite is "bungle." though i'm not sure that would get me into Tiny Liberal Arts or Snooty Old Ivy or even FancyPants Kindergarten. :)

best of luck to Gray...i suspect he will fly.

Amy said...

Flummoxed.

Really my favorite is Supercalifragilisticexpealidotious.
Do you think they'd accept that one?

Hannah said...

Caramel. Because it sounds like what it is.

Best of luck to Gray. I hated filling out college apps. But from everything you've told us about him,
I'm sure he doesn't need our luck-thoughts at all.

Christine said...

Milk

Eva said...

How exciting! Good luck!

Serendipity, maybe.

missedconceptions said...

"Vagina dentada." Even if you don't know what it is, it sounds interesting. (Yes, it is also two words, but any college that could not accept my ability to circumvent their arbitrarily confining intellectual exercises is not worthy of my intellectual exercise.)

Either that or "chiraoscuro."

Waiting Amy said...

Juxtaposition.

Beruriah said...

Haha. That was the essay question I answered for my college 13 years ago! I don't think Gray could be applying to my old school though, unless he's looking to file a lawsuit in his near future.

I answered, perhaps, banally that my favorite word was, "smart," and then wrote about how I'd overcome a fine motor disability so bad my elementary school teachers thought I was intellectually challenged, only to go on to get straight A's in high school and miss just one question on my SAT. I was modest back then, but it served me well.

Beruriah said...

Whoops, I meant to say I wasn't modest back then!

Kymberli said...

Zephyr, bazaar, hieroglyphic, cirque, synergy, nocturne, sforzando, and Klangfarbenmelodie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klangfarbenmelodie.

For the utterly ridiculous, sh*tfire and f*cknuttery are favorites.

erica said...

I like "both."
As in, Chocolate or caramel? Both, thanks.

And also "noodle," because of the way it sounds.

Monica H said...

I don't really know what my favorite word is, but I can tell you what my two least favorite words are: "justaposition" and "rag". Not sure why, just don't like 'em.

Mayberry said...

To answer your second question, I might have to go with "congratulations" or "matriculation."

The thought of answering the first question sends me into a paralysis of indecision.

Bea said...

It's so much easier to think of my LEAST favourite word: luxe. I hate that word.

Amelia Sprout said...

Bollocks, or maybe cajones. Both used as swear words of course.

Gee, I wonder what that would say about be on a college app. "likes to swear in foreign languages"

diana said...

Happy new year to those still in 2008, we're now in the New Year!!!!

ms. G said...

Holy Hell, Niobe. Are those actual questions? Are they high? Good luck to Gray, though!! He is your son, so I'm sure he can answer those questions with wit and intelligence.

Smiling said...

grok

Meg said...

my faorite word is:
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

Yes, it's all one word. It's the longest word in the English language and my dad knows it by heart and he can rattle it of and it sounds cool.

Chris said...

Is probably lane but anyways: Sehnsucht.

Chris said...

Oops .. was supposed to be lame not lane

Happy new year from the other side of the atlantic.

Rachel said...

My favorite word is currently "mama" simply because hearing my one year old say it, and refer to mean, is the most precious thing in the world.

I'm only 10 years out of the application process but I don't remember any weird questions or essays. Of course I only applied to state schools.

OneTiredEma said...

I'd have to ponder most favorite for a good long while, but least favorite is easy: postmodern.

Hate, hate, hate.

Melissa said...

racecar

Magpie said...

Absquatulate.

I am also fond of omphaloskepsis - but somehow, that doesn't seem right on a college application.

I can't believe he's a senior. How did that happen? I also find it hard to believe that the ink and paper and cheese question could be actually found on an application. Though, if the cheese were very very ripe and runny Brie, one might conceivably drink that, no?

lynn said...

Holy Ghost

Melissia said...

My most favorite word has to be consanguinity. I just like the way it falls of the tongue.

Lisa b said...

deoxyribonucleic acid
I'm with you on the two words.

I would get so off track obsessing about that one word question.

Betty M said...

antidisestablishmentarianism

it was my eldest's party piece when she was about 2 and could be taught to parrot pretty much anything.

Lori said...

I, too, have always loved "onomatopoeia," too. And now that it's been brought up, "vagina dentata" is very cool, too.

But inching up this year is "mavericky."

I find it very hard to believe your SAT scores were less than stellar.

And as for hapax legomenon, a professor once told us that "virgin" in Greek simply meant "young girl." It boggles to think of the implications of that word's possible mistranslation (which was, perhaps, changed more purposefully).

slouching mom said...

mine change all the time.

but for now...

i'd go with vivify.

JamieD said...

I like the way atelectasis feels on my tongue and I like the way desire feels in my heart.

Althoug I have learned some groovy new words today - f*ucknuttery is now in my top five.

I love this post - I had to flag it so I could keep coming back for updates!

Heather said...

Minute.

With both vowels long, not the version meaning sixty seconds. As a result, I might have to go with juxtaposition, just to remove the ambiguity.

Cassie said...

When I was in high school, I would have said "transubstantiation" both because I liked the concept and it seemed like a suitably big, complex word for its meaning, it's hard to spell and hard to say, and the concept it represents is sort of hard to understand.

I also might have said "accepted" because I was a smart-ass, and wouldn't have liked the question to begin with. If I was, for some reason, not living with my parents I would have said "fuck."

In college, I probably would have said "diciassette" just because it was so hard for me to figure out how to say, and then once I got it, it was fun to say (we had to record ourselves saying various things for my Italian class. Counting was not what I expected to be the most difficult.)

Aurelia said...

pregnancy, hands down

Mmmm-although "It's alive" is my two word fave.

I have to say, I am REALLY not looking forward to college apps. Private high school apps are hard enough. Although really, all they care about here is how high your SSAT score is, and how big a cheque you write for donations.

docgrumbles said...

lugubrious

Maggie said...

Hmmm.

Pheocromocytoma.

I know, I am a HUGE dork.

JamieD said...

I have managed to use "f*cknuttery" in conversation two days in a row!

ewe are here said...

My words change...

But my 3 year old's current favorite word is "conkalilla", one he made up. ;-)

Julia said...

I've been thinking about this question for a while, and I am still flummoxed as to my actual favorite word. But back in college my dorm had an obsession, among other things, with -er words. Of those, my hands down favorite is elixir. :)

Quadelle said...

Mine's really three words, but one pronunciation: chilly / chili / Chile.