Admission News

The College Essay: Words of Wisdom

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The college application essay is important; it is the icing on the cake. It is also very mysterious! Applicants often think and sometimes ask outright: What are College admission officers looking for!

Here are a few insights into what college admissions people want in a college application essay.

1. Personality – The essay should help admission people get to know you personally and beyond the information in your application: grades, scores, resumes, lists of activities and accomplishments. Narrative, description, big words, even excellent writing that doesn’t reveal something about you as a person and your character will be unsuccessful.

2. Depth – One mistake college applicants can make is covering too much in their application essay. Narrative that covers too long a period of time or description that catalogues too many events or accomplishments is not effective. Admission readers would rather an applicant limits the scope of the essay and reflect on a short, perhaps even insignificant, experience. And, simply describing and recounting that experience without including introspection about the reason, motives, and connections to you as a persona is not deep enough.

3. Consistency – The essay should never rehash what is already in the rest of your application. Your grades show you as a good student so there is no need to highlight your academic strengths in the essay, unless you can offer some introspection into what about you makes you such a good student. However, to show you are an introverted, shy person in your essay when all the other materials in your application indicate you are a risk taker and push for the best could raise a red flag. There might appear to be a disconnect between the applicant and the writer.

4. Correctness – Finally, the college application essay is a sample of your writing ability. Of course, it should be grammatically correct and misspellings should be eliminated. Also the essay needs to be organized: well-ordered, properly paragraphed, coherent in explanations, and focused on one idea. The style need not be fancy, but it should be engaging with active voice and sentence variation. And, don’t go to extremes to impress. Don’t be overly formal or stilted, and also don’t be too creative or out there in your format or approach.

If you keep these things admissions officers are looking for in mind when you write, it will help you produce an essay that will allow you to win college admission.