Not long ago of our school clients shared with us a note from a 13-year-old prospective student from China. In his note, the prospect refers to some letters he received. These letters were part of a project we did that involved working very closely with our client’s students to create a set of authentic personal essays about their experience at this well-known boarding school.
We believe this approach only works when we’re successful in matching the authentic voice of the student writer with the concerns and hopes of the prospective student reader. We don’t write these letters—we guide them. We try to inspire. It’s a process that takes a lot of time and trust. But the feedback is strong, and we know these letters change minds, win hearts and answer important questions.
We’ve edited the note for privacy and brevity, but here’s some of what the note said…
I could not help but notice that among all the … boarding schools I have applied to, [your school] is the only one mailing such letters so far in the hope of helping prospective students like me gain a more comprehensive picture of student life …. The thoughtfulness, time and effort that have been put into these letters strike me as immensely impressive and admirable.
I believe [your] concern for [your] students is one of the most fundamental qualities that distinguishes it as one of the top prep schools all over the United States. I would like to express my sincere gratitude and pay my highest respects to the students who so generously shared with me their heart-felt love for [your school] in these beautifully written letters….
What stands out to me about these letters is that they are not just facts and numbers, but real life experiences of students who have benefitted from time at [your school]. The love they all harbored for [your school] shone through the lines, seeping through every single word and overwhelming my heart…”
Old school, we know. But when words are real, when stories are real, magic happens.