I’m about to start working on my college application, and I’d like to mention my CoG beta-testing experience, as it’s among my proudest accomplishments.
Has anyone else here done this? If so, did you simply list your credits or did you explain to any extent what it actually involved? If possible, I’d like the admissions staff to understand that what I do is closer in some ways to narrative editing than to what probably comes to mind when they imagine beta-testing software.
I wouldn’t use the term beta testing as most people would associate it with something else, as you suspected.
You’d have to tailor it to the course. If it’s a journalism course, talk about the technical side of poring over material to be edited. If it’s a computer science course, talk about how the coding works and how you check for errors. If it’s a creative writing course, tell them you’re a member of a writing community of both professionals and amateurs and you’ve done extensive work proofreading novels which were subsequently published.
Like will said, definitely tailor your application by highlighting the specific skills your program will appreciate.
If I wrote this application, I personally would ensure to mention the medium of the things I worked on because it’s a passion. Just one way to let a facet of yourself shine through the application.
Thank you both for your wisdom. I’m doing a liberal arts program, so not necessarily something that lends itself to a particular emphasis, but I’m hoping to be a writer and editor someday, so I’ll focus on that angle. I don’t know how much detail I can go into in the application itself, but maybe it’s something that will come out a little more in the interview.
If anyone has any other ideas or insights I’d love to hear them - this process is beyond nerve-racking and I need all the help I can get!
I’m not sure whether the blue states or the gray ones are the ones you’re warning me about, but in any case, the school I’m applying to isn’t particularly elite - it accepts more than half of all applicants - and it’s a private college about 50 miles from my house, so out-of-state tuition doesn’t apply in any case.
And it really never occurred to me that it would be something I shouldn’t mention. Why would I not mention a recent accomplishment I take pride in that happens to call upon some of the same skills I hope to build a career on eventually?
Why is that, for those states specifically? Last time I paid attention (which to be fair was a long time ago), several Ivies had policies that favored kids from states that were underrepresented in their student body. As a Minnesotan I had a lot less competition for a place at Yale than my friends from New York and New England did.
I agree, though you should be aware of the pitfall of looking like you’re resumé-padding. Avoiding that pitfall is all about context, both general (are you putting in lots of activities that raise the same kind of questions in your mind, or just this one?) and specific (how can/do you get across the real significance of your beta testing work?).
If the format of the application lets you communicate the context as you just did above – that voluntary testing of multiple long interactive novels, as part of your long-term engagement with a community of writers, builds and uses your skills in your chosen career path – then it’s great.
Thank you so much for your advice - it’s just as wise and thoughtful as I would have expected from you.
(Un)fortunately, I don’t think the appearance of résumé-padding is something I have to worry about. I’m a tough sell and there’s nothing I can do to change that short of out-and-out lying. That’s why it’s so important to me to make the absolute best of what I have - there’s really no room for error here.
On a resume, I would classify it as “interactive fiction test-reading and consulting for Choice of Games” and you could drill down to bullet points like: “systematically tested all major narrative branches / cataloged and reported code errors, omissions, and inconsistencies / gave feedback on narrative structure and characterization to improve the finished piece.”
I’m not sure how that language translates to a college application (it’s been awhile since I handled one of those!) But it’s honestly much better professional experience than most part-time jobs teenagers have before college, especially if you’re interested in studying writing, literature, or English. No padding required! Beta reading’s a very valuable service and requires a special skill set to do well. I think it’ll really help you stand out! Best of luck!
Well, now that I have a better idea of what you’re going for, I know that there’s no reason not to emphasize that. This is absolutely something you should be proud of. However, if I were an admissions officer at a particularly snooty institution, the negative way to look at it is that it doesn’t demonstrate leadership or community involvement.
You’ll have to forgive me for the post last night- I was in a nasty mood and college admissions are something I’m incredibly jaded about.
With that being said, I’d absolutely embrace this. From my interactions with you on this forum, you’re obviously very effective at communication, and as long as you can posit this as a function of you being a dedicated individual, you’ll be in a good position.
With that being a long time ago, I can’t really draw a direct comparison. However, in my personal experience applying to Ivy League colleges (much more recently), I can say that regional imbalance favors large, typically costal states. For Harvard, here’s a map by regional weight:
When I applied to these schools, as the progeny of a small, rural state, I was inherently at a disadvantage which was promptly doubled by the fact that about half of those spots went to rich people with connections who had hooks (my personal example: the Waltons).
Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words. I feel that my beta testing testifies more to my capabilities than anything else I could include, except possibly samples of my own creative writing, but I’m worried that the admissions committee will just sort of think “What the heck is she talking about?” and skim right over it.
@TheGhost No hard feelings. I understand being jaded. I’m less jaded by the admissions process than by the state of academia in general, but I went through a phase where I was seduced by the big names too, and I wish I’d had the sense to follow my heart then. I hope for your sake that you eventually found yourself where you needed to be and that you never have to go through this again.
I visited the school today and it went really well! I actually ended up explaining my experience with interactive fiction to an admissions counselor and she thought it might be worth writing about in some detail in my application. Also, I’m apparently pretty good at explaining what it’s all about, having had so much practice. And they take a much more flexible approach to the admissions process than most colleges seem to, so as long as I can prove my worth some way, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the usual way.