Another objection to the New Criticism is that it is thought to aim at making criticism scientific, or at least “bringing literary study to a condition rivaling that of science.”  René Wellek , however, points out the erroneous nature of this criticism by noting that a number of the New Critics outlined their theoretical aesthetics in stark contrast to the "objectivity" of the sciences (although Ransom, in his essay "Criticism, Inc." did advocate that "criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic").  
This is one of the most extensive and helpful posts I’ve read on how to write college admissions essays. My feeling is that most English teachers know their great literature, but are not as versed on teaching writing–especially narrative style pieces. I agree that the best place to get ideas for unique topics, as well as learn how to structure these more informal essays, is by reading what others have written. You have collected a wonderful assortment of sample essays. Reading excellent writing, especially the New York Times, is also very helpful, especially feature-style articles that use creative writing techniques, such as anecdotal leads and descriptive details. I try to share similar writing advice on my blog, Essay Hell.