Most college admissions officers agree, the college application essay—also known as the personal essay—is an important part of your college application. Some admissions people admit to reading the essay multiple times. Especially, if the applicant has a solid application, it can be the essay that allows the college to decide one way or another. Really the only time a good essay can hurt is if the applicant has a weak application. Then a good essay raises suspicions that the applicant did not write his or her own essay.
It is well-accepted that a perfect high school record looks good but often does not predict success and does not reveal how an applicant’s personality will add to the community of the college. The content of the essay as well as the writing style can tell a lot about the person. Colleges are also making sure that the essay amplifies what the application already reveals. If the résumé indicates involvement in activities and the essay writer tells nothing about his involvement and reasons for involvement, there is a disconnect. If an applicant wants to major in the sciences and she says nothing about her passion for the frog or the alimentary canal, there is something wrong.
The essay brings the applicant to life and rounds off the application. College Basics recommends that applicants begin by talking stock of his or her personal characteristics to start:
Check each of the qualities that represent you
Problem solving ability
Go back to each you have checked above and write in two examples of how you show you have this quality.
Now—can you describe your growth in one of these areas, either from childhood to present or as you project yourself from now until after college?
For more help, check out CollegeBasics’ new e-book The Basics for Writing College Application Essays: Simple How-to Steps for Writing All College Essays from the Personal Statement to the Short Activity Essay. This book outlines every aspect of writing the college application essay and explains how to write different kinds of application essays from the short activity essay to the personal statement to scholarship essays and more while offering samples of essays and essay edits.