The test scores are final, the grade point averages calculated, and the recommendations gathered, you’ve already worked so hard, and now you have to write a personal essay as part of your college admissions process. When will this all end?
College admissions essays are often the last thing a student will tackle in an application, and partly because it is the more stressful component. You may have stressed overtaking the SAT or ACT, but that was just a test that gave you a number. This essay is you, all you, and nothing but you. It’s your moment to speak directly to admissions at the school you dream of attending; you don’t want to mess it up.
It will be okay, take a deep breath. Yes, this is important, but you can do it!
What’s the Point of a College Admission Essay?
The point of a college admissions essay becomes more apparent when you think in terms of quantitative and qualitative data. Test scores and GPAs tend to fall in the quantitive definition of admissions data because it can easily be measured and compared. Who has the highest SAT score? Is your GPA high enough?
Whereas, an admissions essay is more qualitative. Who are you? What makes you different and unique? The essay is your opportunity to tell your story and convince those admissions directors that you belong at their college.
Your admissions essay can be whatever you would like it to be, but there are somethings that colleges would rather not see.
One would be a retelling of everything already contained on your application. Your essay is not the time to list the AP courses you’ve taken or again regurgitate all your extra-curricular activities. They have this information already, don’t make your essay redundant.
Also, it’s important to write original essays for each school. Yes, this will mean more work, but writing specifically to a school with them in mind will only improve your essay, and therefore, your chances of gaining admission.
Finally, don’t wait until the last minute or copy some generic essays from the internet. By doing either of these, you are only submitting sub-par work that will do nothing to improve your chances of being accepted. If you want to be admitted, give them your best work.
Now’s the time to put away all those things that you thought would save you time and create the best essay possible to help you be admitted to the college of your choice.
Above every other piece of advice you may receive, the most crucial factor is to be yourself. You have a style and voice unique to you, and this is the time to use it.
Imagine being an admissions office reading paper after paper that all sound the same. Not only is it boring for them, you just become another in the pile of unmemorable essays, and no one wants to be there.
The essay is also the time to show a glimpse into your life and story that isn’t seen through the quantitative data of test scores and GPAs. What have you overcome? Can you reveal something new that isn’t apparent from your application? Don’t just repeat the same tired lines that you think they want to hear. Give them a new way of looking at an idea or topic from your unique perspective.
Lastly, make it personal. Write with the college in mind, not with the generic goal of getting into any college. Colleges are looking for students who want to attend their school. Remember, no one likes being the second choice, so be bold and show your desire to attend their college. Specificity will help your application rise from the forgettable heap to the ones worth considering.
Relax, This is Your Time
Yes, college admissions essays can be stressful, but view them as an opportunity to sell yourself. Why should they choose you? How will your admission benefit the school and you?
A personal essay allows you to speak directly to the college in real words, not just numbers and percentiles. Take advantage of this opportunity and make your essay stand out. Unique qualities and stories are what college admissions advisors remember.