Example essay

Real or False College Test: NPR

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(MUSIC EXTRACT)

JONATHAN COULTON: It’s ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. I am Jonathan Coulton. This is your host Ophira Eisenberg.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HTE:

Thanks Jonathan. This is our penultimate episode, and we’re playing games with our friends, comedians Aparna Nancherla and Joyelle Nicole Johnson. Are you ready for another?

APARNA NANCHERLA: Ready, ready.

JOYELLE NICOLE JOHNSON: Yes.

EISENBERG: Okay, so this one is called Real or Fake College Essay. We’re going to give you a college application essay prompt, and you’re just going to tell us if this is something that an admissions office has made their applicants waste their time writing or if it is something that we have just invented.

JOHNSON: Yeah. I worked in my college admissions office.

NANCHERLA: Did you do it?

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: Really?

JOHNSON: I did. My favorite memory is that a child received a letter of recommendation from Vice President Al Gore and did not go to school.

(TO LAUGH)

JOHNSON: And I was like …

EISENBERG: See?

NANCCHERLA: Oh, my God.

JOHNSON: I had to file this paper, and I was like, he was going to go crazy.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: It makes me happy.

NANCCHERLA: You must be so crazy.

EISENBERG: I mean, not that …

JOHNSON: You are crazy (laughs).

EISENBERG: It doesn’t make me happy that Al Gore, you know, leaned over a kid, but it’s – you know, it doesn’t always work that way. You don’t just get …

JOHNSON: No.

EISENBERG: Yes, exactly.

COULTON: Yeah.

NANCHERLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: Merit.

JOHNSON: No.

EISENBERG: And money.

NANCHERLA: It’s the real inconvenient truth.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: Yes. Yes. Alright, Aparna, this one’s for you.

NANCHERLA: Okay.

EISENBERG: True or False – from the University of Chicago, if there is a finite amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden deliver truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks?

NANCCHERLA: I mean, that’s a good prompt.

EISENBERG: That’s pretty good.

NANCCHERLA: Funny, though. But I still think of the University of Chicago as a kind of school outside the box. But I’m still going to say that’s wrong.

EISENBERG: It’s real.

NANCHERLA: No.

EISENBERG: It’s real. I do not have any…

NANCHERLA: I knew it.

EISENBERG: I don’t have samples. I would like to have samples.

COULTON: Yeah.

JOHNSON: Right. I have to read them.

NANCCHERLA: I sort of wanted it to be real, so I’m glad I was wrong.

JOHNSON: They’re the best breadsticks. I want to say…

(TO LAUGH)

JOHNSON: I just didn’t know all this time – you know, as a writer you think of all jobs. I want to write for Hallmark. I had no idea I wanted to write a invite for the college application essays (laughs).

EISENBERG: I know.

COULTON: Yeah.

NANCHERLA: Yes. Yeah. This one was inspiring.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Not bad. Not bad.

COULTON: All right, Joyelle. True or False – from Brandeis University, if you could choose to be raised by robots, dinosaurs, or aliens which would you choose?

JOHNSON: I want it to be real. I really do.

COULTON: (Laughs).

JOHNSON: I’ll say real.

COULTON: Yeah, it’s real. You are right.

JOHNSON: Yeah.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: And by the way, we all know the answer to that is aliens.

JOHNSON: Aliens, robots or dinosaurs?

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: Yeah, I guess I don’t want to be raised by dinosaurs at all.

JOHNSON: Dinosaurs are the wild card over there.

NANCHERLA: Yes.

JOHNSON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Robots – I mean, it’s happening right now.

JOHNSON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Siri or Alexa – who do you want to be your mother? Siri or Alexa?

NANCHERLA: (Laughs).

JOHNSON: Yeah, I guess aliens are the answer, especially if they’re smarter.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: Exactly.

NANCHERLA: Yeah, yeah.

EISENBERG: OK, Aparna – from the University of Miami in Ohio, who …

JOHNSON: Wow.

(TO LAUGH)

NANCCHERLA: I think I got a brochure from them. It really upset me.

EISENBERG: Really? Yeah.

NANCCHERLA: I was like, Miami but Ohio? What?

COULTON: (Laughs).

EISENBERG: I know. It’s kind of – like, wow, you haven’t come to the right place – a few things.

NANCCHERLA: (Laughs) Yeah. To the right.

EISENBERG: OK, from the University of Miami in Ohio, you have unlimited Legos. What are you building?

NANCCHERLA: Oh, I think it’s real.

EISENBERG: I’m sorry, that’s wrong. This one is wrong.

NANCHERLA: What?

EISENBERG: This one is wrong. Yeah, I know.

NANCCHERLA: I had high hopes for the University of Miami in Ohio. But I should have remembered the Ohio part.

EISENBERG: I know.

COULTON: (Laughs).

EISENBERG: I did some research, though, and this is the top rated party school in Ohio. I do not know if…

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: … That says a lot. does that say a lot?

NANCCHERLA: (Laughs) Okay.

JOHNSON: It’s Miami. This is the Miami part.

EISENBERG: (Laughs) It’s Miami.

NANCCHERLA: This is the Miami part.

JOHNSON: They nicknamed (ph) their school.

EISENBERG: (Laughs).

COULTON: Yeah (laughs).

JOHNSON: I think the University of New Orleans in Wisconsin is a little more …

(TO LAUGH)

JOHNSON: … from a party school.

COULTON: OK, Joyelle, from Penn – you just finished your 300 page autobiography. Please submit page 217.

JOHNSON: UPenn or Penn State?

COULTON: It’s UPenn. So it’s UPenn.

JOHNSON: Okay. So – because it rings true of UPenn. It’s very, you know …

NANCHERLA: Yes.

JOHNSON: … Scholar. Is that a word?

EISENBERG: (Laughs).

COULTON: Yeah, yeah. You are right. It’s real. It’s real.

JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah. So – the biography is written – what’s the last page?

COULTON: Two hundred and seventeen – that’s a very specific page. On a 300 page biography – autobiography, submit page 217. Which one – I’m wondering, how good of the autobiography is 217? Is this, like, the way out of your crisis? Or what are they – what do you think …

NANCHERLA: Right.

COULTON: … They’re trying to …

JOHNSON: Exactly – because I’m like …

NANCCHERLA: You’re two-thirds.

EISENBERG: First of all …

JOHNSON: Right.

EISENBERG: … No autobiography should be 300 pages long. Let’s start with that.

NANCHERLA: No.

COULTON: Especially not when you’re 18.

EISENBERG: Yes. One-fifty – wrap it up.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: All right. Aparna, from John Hopkins (ph) …

NANCHERLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: Using a piece of wire, a college car window sticker, an egg carton, and any inexpensive hardware, create something that would solve a problem.

NANCCHERLA: Oh, damn.

JOHNSON: (Laughs).

NANCCHERLA: They opted for an Iron Chef-style question.

EISENBERG: (Laughs) Exactly.

JOHNSON: And in the “MacGyver”?

COULTON: (Laughs) MacGyver University, yeah.

(TO LAUGH)

NANCHERLA: I’ll say it’s real.

EISENBERG: Totally real.

NANCHERLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: You’re right – 100%, yes.

JOHNSON: I would say I won’t go to this school.

EISENBERG: Right.

(TO LAUGH)

COULTON: But I think it’s also actually like – it’s not school for me.

NANCCHERLA: (Laughs) Yeah.

COULTON: No, thank you. Well I can’t even think of it. What would you do ? A wire…

NANCHERLA: An egg?

EISENBERG: A thread, a university …

COULTON: … A window sticker …

EISENBERG: … Window sticker …

COULTON: … an egg carton and some cheap hardware.

EISENBERG: Well, you would have a safe and secure place to park your car. And then maybe with, like, a pipe or something and the wire – egg carton that you could use for soundproofing. You would turn your car into a mini podcast studio and at least a place to record. And that ?

NANCHERLA: Wow.

COULTON: Ophira, you should …

JOHNSON: You …

COULTON: … Go to Johns Hopkins, obviously.

EISENBERG: (Laughs).

JOHNSON: Right.

EISENBERG: I refused. I refused.

COULTON: (Laughs) Alright. OKAY.

NANCCHERLA: I was going to say anything on Etsy.

EISENBERG: (Laughs) Or whatever on Etsy.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: Right – art – just beautiful art.

NANCHERLA: Art.

EISENBERG: A wall hanging.

COULTON: Nice art – okay. This is your last clue. Joyelle, from Tufts – Kermit the frog lamented, it’s not easy being green. Do you agree?

JOHNSON: I feel attacked.

(TO LAUGH)

EISENBERG: I know. It’s a bit hazy …

JOHNSON: Right (laughs).

EISENBERG: … Editorial prompt.

JOHNSON: Like, who are you asking that? It’s (laughs) …

EISENBERG: Yeah, right?

COULTON: Yeah, exactly.

JOHNSON: Yeah. It’s really hard to be a person of color in America.

(TO LAUGH)

JOHNSON: I agree with you, Kermit.

EISENBERG: We’re talking about frogs – I mean, Muppets.

(TO LAUGH)

JOHNSON: Jesus, that’s …

EISENBERG: Wild.

JOHNSON: … I hope it’s wrong because it’s terrible, not …

NANCHERLA: Yes.

JOHNSON: … Conscious question (laughs) to ask. It’s wrong.

COULTON: I’m sorry. It’s actually real.

NANCCHERLA: (Halt) Oh.

JOHNSON: I’m writing a letter. I’m writing a letter (laughs).

EISENBERG: Aparna Nancherla and Joyelle Nicole Johnson, thank you very much for joining us. How would you like to spend some time with us next week?

JOHNSON: Yeah.

NANCHERLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: The best – thank you very much.

NANCHERLA: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Woo hoo.

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