The squish test: is the essay mushy?

The squish test: is your essay mushy? 

On an early summer evening over dessert, the table talk turned to admission essays. I was eager to hear what our group of 20-somethings had to say about helping others with these essays – the writing to get into (or stay out of) health professional schools.

The second-year dental school student at the head of the table mentioned that she recently met with an aspiring applicant to look over a draft of an admissions essay. She said, “I found the essay meandering around, so I told the person that there are a few questions to ask your self about each sentence in an application essay: What does this sentence tell the admissions committee? How does this sentence fit with my theme?”

At that point, the medical resident serving strawberry rhubarb pie added, “And the third question is ‘Does it pass the squish test?’” He squished an imaginary berry between his first finger and thumb while creating a remarkably deflating sound. “There must be the part of the essay where you write that you want to help others, and it has to be honest, but it cannot be so mushy that it makes the admissions committee nauseous. You know, it can’t be squishy.”

Through college application coaching, I’ve read draft admissions essays where applicants veer too far into mushy territory, which is distracting and not helpful. I’ve also read outstanding essays where passion for healthcare is conveyed, and the squish test is passed with flying colors.

Please pass this essay advice to aspiring applicants around your table:

Make every sentence count
Keep to a theme
Do a squish test
Bon appetite!

Michelle Machiele

Michelle lives in Ann Arbor, MI and is passionate about helping students in transition as well as spring berries.