Frog and Toad Write Your College Essay
In one episode of the children’s book series Frog and Toad, Toad is concerned. His friend Frog has gone alone to their favorite rock, unannounced. Frog and Toad announce everything to one another, so, yes, this is a little strange. Toad does what any anthropomorphizing amphibian would do in a vacuum of information: he starts making stuff up.
Does Frog not like him anymore? Is Frog mad? Does Frog think Toad is not a good friend? Did the flies they had at their last dinner party suck? (They are not true to their species: they eat sandwiches, cookies and ice tea). Did Toad do something wrong?
Frog is out in the middle of a lake looking at the horizon line. It’s textbook placid. His back is to Toad as if confirmation of Toad’s worst fears. So Toad does what any friend would do: he starts making solutions to the problem he’s invented. And the best one he can come up with is to make Frog need him. Or to please Frog. Toad prepares them lunch (they are very domestic) and convinces a turtle to schlepp him and the provisions out to the rock where Frog is socially distanced. (Frog has their rowboat).
And so what happens? The second obstacle and plot twist: anxious and sweaty Toad and his apology lunch fall into the water.
Frog is surprised and amused to see his friend and the wet sandwiches (don’t frogs like or even prefer wet food?). He helps his flustered buddy up onto the rock where Toad apologizes for nothing.
Frog corrects him: he just came out on the rock to be alone and think how lucky he is! What a good friend Toad is! Screw the soggy sandwiches! Frog is out here appreciating how good he’s got things!
Toad is bewildered how wrong he was, but the storyteller doesn’t dwell on that or give Toad his extended moment of cognitive dissonance. They just look at the sunset together, and repair the rupture (real or imagined) through keeping shoulder-to-shoulder company.
Lessons for your college essay from Frog and Toad’s Alone Time
There are so many dots to connect here to your college essay, and each speaks to a concern a student or parent has shared with me in the past week. I’m going to say a whole bunch of things. Some will miss your ears. Some won’t. Here are some things I can promise you:
- You are not alone.
- Your dilemma is shared by many other applicants or parents. Everyone is fretting if they are good enough, or enough, or the right kind of amphibian.
- Getting too upset in advance might be a waste.
- There is always a solution.
- You might fall in the water on the way to the rock.
- Admissions readers/officers have not judged you in advance. They will be happy to see you and your sandwiches, but then you do have to convince them to make room on their rock.
- The relationship between you and your dream school is transactional, but it is also personal. It’s ok to go ahead and be a person.
- Keep it simple (like the writing style in Frog and Toad).
- You don’t know what is really going on in the admissions rooms. We hardly know what’s really going on in ourselves! When you make stuff up, try to keep assumptions positive. If nothing else it will feel better.
- Find someone with whom you can sit shoulder to shoulder, or even on parallel rocks/stoops, and look at a bigger view.
- We need each other. It’s OK to say that. Reach out for some solid support or at least a sandwich.
Not sure you’ve got what it takes?
We are. We’ve helped every kind of student go from standing lonely on the store to writing something meaningful. Yes, you might fall in the water. And, yes, you’ll eventually find your rock.
If you’re making stuff up in your head rather than on the page, reach out for our help. We’ll read you a good children’s book to reset, and then help you write the essay of your life.