申请文书里的角色塑造,文书里的你是“圆”的还是“扁”?

  美国大学申请,无论是本科,转学还是研究生,一个最大的特色就是:文书多!虽然面对各种文书问题童鞋们一开始总是感觉一筹莫展,但是我们知道,申请文书既是机遇又是挑战。搞不好一篇优秀且有效的申请文书就能让你成为那个万人羡慕的“黑马”。但是文书不像数学一样有一个标准答案,那么到底什么样的文书才是好文书,我的文书要怎么入手才能把同样的经历和故事写出不一样的精彩呢?

  今天我们就从创意文学写作当中的 “round character”这个概念入手来聊一聊申请文书里 “我”这个角色的塑造。

  首先,无论是个人陈述(personal statement)还是各种的why essay  (why major, why school, why transfer, and ect.) 其实所有的申请文书 都是不是学术写作(academic writing)而属于(creative non-fiction). 也就是说我们不是在写学术报告或者批判性评论,而是,说白了,在讲故事,讲述自己的故事。既然是故事就离不开“角色”或者“人物”,我们申请文书的主角自然就是申请人我们自己啦!在创意写作里,评价一个作品的好坏的重要标准之一就是主要角色是否是“round character”(有的作者翻译成“圆形角色”其实我觉得更像是丰满角色)。所谓“round character”是指角色具有复杂性和多面性,就像一个球,无论从哪一个角度观察都看不到全貌。比如说《史瑞克》的主角Shrek说道“Ogres are like onions,” (怪兽像洋葱一样),外表不能代表他们的全部,他们的内心是非常丰富的。Round character不仅在表象上具有复杂性,在情感上也并非一成不变,而是具有深层次的情感和热情,这样的角色能让读者(也就是招生官)跟能产生共鸣和共情,从而更具有吸引力。与之相对应的就是“flat character”(扁平角色)啦,那flat character 就是那些一成不变,一个标签到底,完全从属于某个刻板印象或者陈词滥调的角色。这样的角色可以作为次要角色在故事里出现,但是如果连主角都是扁平角色的话,这个作品注定是无法打动人的。

  这么一说,大家肯定都知道我们希望通过文书展现在招生官面前的自己是 “round character” 而非扁平角色。但是说归说,做起来其实很容易有些童鞋就只想着给自己“贴标签”:我得向招生官展示一下自己多牛逼,我得告诉招生官我很有领导力,或者我得让招生官知道我科研能力很强,我很热爱数学… 于是乎写出来得文书里自己给“压扁”成了flat character了。有些童鞋这时候可能就要跳出来说了:老师,不是说要鼓励给自己“贴标签”,这样才能给招生官留下深刻印象吗?

  其实标签不是不能有,而是不能让标签覆盖了自己得全部,而且这个标签要贴的巧妙,并且标签本身也需要具有复杂性。 如果只是“领导者”或者“数学达人”这样得标签,那么是很难使你和其他具有领导力或者数学能力强得学生区分开来的!但是“从来没有当过 ‘领导’的领导者”或者 “从‘不及格大王’ 到 ‘数据挖掘机’”这样的标签是否更具有吸引力呢?

  口说无凭,我们下面就举个“栗子”让大家感受一下申请文书里“我”这个角色的“圆”和“扁”。

  下面是一篇哈佛大学2019年post出来的成功申请文书之一:

  I was in 9th grade the first time I stumbled upon a copy of Newsweek. What caught my eye was its trademark title: white type, red highlight, a connotation that stories of great consequence lay beneath. Such bold lettering gave me a moment‘s pause, and I was prompted to leaf through its glossy pages.

  To my surprise, I was instantly hooked.

  A new world unfolded before me. Biting social commentary. World conflicts that weren’t dumbed down. Piquant reviews of best-selling books, controversial exposés of political figures, tantalizing tidbits on pop culture, full-page spreads of photographs.

  And the prose was elegant, sharp, mesmerizing. It radiated sophistication and IQ. As I scanned the credentials of the authors, my only thought was, wow. The articles were written by worldly, ambitious people who were experts in their fields, people with PhDs and MBAS from world-class institutions, people who could write brilliantly, who got paid to give their opinions, who walked with a purpose and ran in the direction of their dreams. People I knew — then and there — I’d like to one day become.

  This is what education looks like, I told myself. I was young, I was impressionable. Like a child standing on the outside of a candy store, nose pressed against the glass, I hungered to be a part of that cerebral adult world. So I read that magazine from cover to cover. Twice. And with each turn of the page I felt my small-town na?veté break into smaller and smaller pieces. I remember that day as an incredibly humbling experience. I had an awkward, self-conscious epiphany: that I actually knew next to nothing about the world. There I was, cream of the crop of my middle school, fourteen years of “smart” outwitted by a thin volume of paper. I was used to feeling gifted, to getting gold stickers and good grades, to acing every elementary examination placed in front of my cocky #2 pencil.

  I wasn‘t used to feeling like I’d been living in the Dark Ages.

  At the same time, however, I struggled with another realization, one that was difficult for me to define. I felt. . . liberated. I felt as though I had taken a breath of fresh air and found it to be bracing and delicious, like it was the first breath I‘d ever taken, and I’d never known that air was so sweet.

  Talk about a paradigm shift: somehow, reading Newsweek had re-kindled my natural intellectual curiosity; it had, briefly, filled a hole in my soul that I didn‘t know existed. It had also sparked something within me-a hint of defiance, a refusal to accept complacency. One taste of forbidden fruit, and I knew I could never go back.

  Although reading a news magazine seemed like a nonevent at the time, in retrospect it was one of the defining moments of my adolescence. That seemingly unextraordinary day set a lot of subsequent days in motion-days when I would push my limitations, jump a little higher, venture out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, days when I would fail over and over again only to succeed when I least expected it, days when I would build my dreams from scratch, watch them fall down, then build them back up again, and before I knew it, the days bled into years, and this was my life.

  At 14, I’d caught a glimpse of where the bar was set. It always seemed astronomically high, until it became just out of my grasp.

  Sadly, Newsweek magazine went out of print on January 1, 2013. Odd as it may sound, I‘ll always be indebted to an out-of-print magazine for helping me become the person I am today.

  这篇文书虽然仅仅讲述了自己偶然读到一本Newsweek杂志者一件事情,但是从这篇文书里,读者能清晰的感受到“我”的变化,作者在阅读了这本Newsweek杂志之后,先是被杂志里文章的优雅,犀利和迷人(elegant, sharp, mesmerizing)给惊艳到,此时我们可以感受到作者在情感上的兴奋,激动和喜悦,然后作者反思自己,感觉自己之前14年的自我感觉良好瞬间被者薄薄一本杂志给否定,这里作者的情感又向负面和自我否定转移,感觉自己像活在落后愚昧的黑暗时代。随后作者又描述了更加复杂的内心感受“At the same time, however, I struggled with another realization, one that was difficult for me to define. I felt. . . liberated.”感觉自己获得了思想上的解放。最后更进一步介绍为什么这本杂志让自己收获了成长,是自己从少年到青年的转折。 从这篇文章里读者很容易和“我”这个角色产生共鸣,因为作者巧妙且真实的捕捉到了这种成长过程中的内心变化。“我”的形象也非一成不变或者“Newsweek爱好者”这样简单的标签就可以覆盖的。

  试想,如果这篇文书变成这样的:

  I’m the kind of person that would push my limitations, jump a little higher, venture out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, days when I would fail over and over again only to succeed when I least expected it, days when I would build my dreams from scratch, watch them fall down, then build them back up again, and before I knew it, the days bled into years, and this was my life.

  I become aware of my passion for self-challenging when I stumbled upon a copy of Newsweek. To my surprise, I was instantly hooked. A new world unfolded before me. Biting social commentary. World conflicts that weren‘t dumbed down. Piquant reviews of best-selling books, controversial exposés of political figures, tantalizing tidbits on pop culture, full-page spreads of photographs. And the prose was elegant, sharp, mesmerizing. It radiated sophistication and IQ. As I scanned the credentials of the authors, my only thought was, wow. The articles were written by worldly, ambitious people who were experts in their fields, people with PhDs and MBAS from world-class institutions, people who could write brilliantly, who got paid to give their opinions, who walked with a purpose and ran in the direction of their dreams. People I knew — then and there — I’d like to one day become.

  Reading Newsweek had re-kindled my natural intellectual curiosity; it had, briefly, filled a hole in my soul that I didn‘t know existed. It had also sparked something within me-a hint of defiance, a refusal to accept complacency. One taste of forbidden fruit, and I knew I could never go back.

  I felt. . . liberated. I felt as though I had taken a breath of fresh air and found it to be bracing and delicious, like it was the first breath I’d ever taken, and I‘d never known that air was so sweet.

  At 14, I’d caught a glimpse of where the bar was set. It always seemed astronomically high, until it became just out of my grasp.

  上面这篇我是完全截取了作者的原话,但是去掉了让原文中体现“我”的复杂性和变化的部分,使“我”这个角色变的更加扁平。那这篇扁平化处理后的文书,大家读起来是不是就感觉作者更像在吹嘘自己,而没有扁平化处理之前那么能打动人呢?

  童鞋们,你们文书里的自己是“圆”的还是“扁”的呢?

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[申请文书里的角色塑造,文书里的你是“圆”的还是“扁”?] 文章生成时间为:2020-07-02 23:01:28

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