How do young people make sense of their life experiences and explain them to others?

Merit is a complex idea in American culture. This project examines how admissions professionals and college hopefuls collaborate to sustain the merit idea in routine acts of soliciting, writing and reading applications.

project leads

related publications

Application essays and the ritual production of merit in US selective admissions

What are college application essays for?

Poetics, 2022

Ben Gebre-Medhin, Sonia Giebel, AJ Alvero, anthony lising antonio, Benjamin W. Domingue, and Mitchell L. Stevens

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Essay content is strongly related to household Income and SAT Scores: Evidence from 60,000 undergraduate applications

College application essays in an era of machine reading

Science Advances, 2021

AJ Alvero, Sonia Giebel, Ben Gebre-Medhin, anthony lising antonio, Mitchell L. Stevens and Benjamin W. Domingue

Visit external site to read this publication