在美国本科留学申请中，文书（Essay）可以说是最重要的一项，也是唯一能够展现申请者特点和个性（who are you）的部分。标准化成绩、学业成绩等这些硬件条件其他申请人同样拥有。即便是面试，也可能因为面试时状态不佳而导致失误。因此写好一篇文书是申请中非常重要的事情。
一般来讲，美国大学申请的文书主要是有两个部分组成：Common通用申请系统主文书/Coliation申请系统主文书。第二部分是学校文书（Supplemental Essay），学校的文书一般情况下分为如下类别: Why major类型（为什么选择这个专业）；Why school 类型（为什么选择我们学校）以及活动相关的文书等。
Sample Essay 全文
“Did you paint all these? I thought you bought them!” Iris came to sit by my side, watching me apply watercolor on another postcard.
“Yeah. I started an organization called OPART. We collect student-produced art works, like paintings, watercolors and photos and sell them as custom-made postcards. ”
“Earning extra money, huh?”
“Nope. We donate the money to the local welfare house.”
“Ah, that' s very sweet of you!”
Yes, that' s sweet. But that' s not what I' m after.
At the end of my 11th grade I went to "When I Meet You - The International Kids Integration Art Exhibition" where portraits by autistic children pounded my retinas with throbbing colors. Scarlet, orange, blue, green… Pure color lumps of different shapes just piled together, forming the fathers, mothers and uncles in the kids' eyes. Simple. Vibrant. Bang.
The exhibition hall was vast and empty with only the portraits and photos of the lonely artists accompanying me. Indifference was all over their little faces, but looking right back at them, I saw the smile of my baby brother as he proudly showed his very first watercolor to my mom; I saw my grin as I watched Kyran lingered before my "Miss. Deadpan" at my personal exhibition. What I saw in the kids was the gratification I felt as Jane told me the girl I drew was so beautiful that she wanted to look just like her; it was the connection built between the artist and the viewers who were touched- the connection between kindred souls.
And that' s what makes drawing so meaningful to me. Every stroke is MY aesthetic value and visual preference, and somebody will be moved just like I did standing in front of others' paintings. This makes drawing the one thing I' m truly proud of.
The autistic children should be proud of themselves, too. They can paint beautifully and tug at the heartstrings of people like me, which is a gift not everybody is bestowed with. My instant impulse was to grab the autistic children by their shoulders and tell them how much I love the tip of red ochre on the arching brown noses. I want them to continue on materializing their value on canvas.
I tried to contact the exhibition, but failed to get any reply; I thought about teaching autistic children how to paint, but I don' t have nursing specialty and I dare not take the risk. So here we have OPART, O for "original" and P for "postcard" . The money earned is given to the welfare house, but really, it’s not about the money. I want more than buying orphans foods and toys; I want them to paint and to love painting, to discover their self-worth in spite of the difficult situation they are in, and to create beauty. All these statements seem too grand for now, but we "opsters" enjoy producing our works; we think they are beautiful. And I want the people who buy them to connect to us and understand the value of drawing that we treasure so much.
With my last few strokes, the profile of a little girl is done. "Hmm, I like this one. You make me want to paint." Iris said with smily eyes.
And that' s what I' m after.
接下来，我们分析一下Why School类型的文书。对于美本申请的小伙伴们，大家对Why school的题目并不陌生，而这个题目往往也最让学生头痛。要想回答好这个文书题目，首先，需要理解学校出这道题目的真正目的。如今，越来越多的学校，尤其是热门的名校，每年都收到远超限定名额的申请。很明显，招生官并不想为已经录取但又放弃的申请者浪费一个空额——他们也要确保每个参加申请的学生都有想去他们学校的具体理由，他们想要知道你是真正地感兴趣并且经过深思熟虑后才下的决定来申请。同时，他们也在寻找你的个人特质、兴趣、目标以及你是否为学校带来贡献。所以这个问题不仅仅是关于这个学校是否适合你，还有为什么你适合这个学校。
每所学校都有各自的特色和教育理念。虽然一些大学处于同一水平线，但是他们却有着很大的区别，因此在录取中，他们都会对申请人有一定的要求。近年来，申请人数不断暴涨，而申请人的条件大多相近，这些要求也就显得尤为重要。例如MIT在招生中，尤为看中学生的创新能力。而根据一位Stanford招生官的描述，他们更重视“知识生命力”，所以在文书中要能证明自己追求知识的热情。学生可以通过浏览学校官网等相关信息，正确地理解一所大学的大学的学校文化和价值观以及一些基本原则，从而能够帮助你有的放矢地准备入学申请。接下来，我们以纽约大学（NYU）附表文书为例具体分析一下Why school 类文书的写作方式。
Sample Essay-Why NYU
This summer, I lived like Wassily Kandinsky.
During weekdays, I took the cramped rush hour subway with my dad, shook the ink box before printing him one "Power of Attorney", attended meetings with clients and had lunches with dad' s colleagues. I studied significantly different cases, watched how my dad worked as a lawyer closely, and smiled inside as I indicated a logical inconsistency in a verdict. At weekends, however, I was back in the small studio of my neighborhood, sitting on the green wooden stool and rocking with the "Gasoline" pounding in my ears. After an afternoon of painting, I dragged myself home, with yellow acrylics all over the tips of my hair.
To be honest, I don' t know whether Wassily Kandinsky ever lived like this. But I do know that he gave up a promising career as a law professor to enroll in an art school at the age of 30. In my case, I can' t wait until 30 to start pursuing further visual arts study. That' s too long. Knowing that Americans and I are way different in our concepts of art, I want to immense myself in the culture of America, especially that of New York City - the center of world art from the mid 20 century onward - and see what I can get.
But I don' t want to apply for Art schools directly. Because so far, painting remains nothing more than a life-long hobby, and I look to America more for its liberal arts education. Right now, I have no strong intention of working in visual arts related fields, because I know "draw for pleasure" and "draw for a living" can be very different. But that remains a possibility. And by viewing exciting exhibitions and attending important lectures in the heartland of art during my university life, I' ll have more future choices. My career as a painter may begin way earlier than that of Wassily Kandinsky.
Or I may become a lawyer, which is equally cool. With a lawyer dad, I grew up with the dinner-table conversations revolving around the cases he was then dealing with. As I interned at a law firm, I became interested not only in subjects like International Relations, Politics and Philosophy, but also in working as a lawyer. More intellectually demanding than many other office works, continuously challenging since I get to cope with very different cases and people, and suiting as people skill is not as important as professionalism… lawyer is a career that fits me and excites me, and no other place can offer intern opportunities as great as those offered at NYU.
To me, the best part of a NYU education lies not in the NYU gallery network, not in the Lawyer Alumni Mentoring Program or the top-tier Law School, but in the fact that I can have the best of both Art and Law. After soaking in the countless opportunities offered in NYC, when I walk out of NYU, the choice would be mine.
1.文章以一句“This summer, I lived like Wassily Kandinsky.”开头，让人不禁好奇作者与这位现代艺术伟人有什么关系。文章中间三段都是描述作者对画画与对当一名律师的热爱与向往，最后两段才点出Why NYU的理由。艺术与法律学本是毫不相关的两门专业，然而作者以精妙之笔将两者自然地结合在一起。看到结尾，读者似乎有一种恍然大悟的感觉。
美国本科申请文书一直是考验申请者能力的试金石。大家在准备申请文书时一定要用心，无论形式怎么样变化，招生官想看到的依然是 "who are you" 这个最核心的内容。