In just a few months the current class of high school juniors will begin working on college essays, making this an ideal time for self-reflection. This is a good time for students to begin to identify what makes them who they are and what they would like to highlight for the admissions office. The college essay is a tool to complete the student’s narrative and makes a very important contribution to the college application.
Selective colleges want to gain perspective about a student’s writing ability. Since writing is a required skill at the college level, writing proficiency is highly valued and can also be viewed as an indicator of future college success. During what is often a brief review of a student’s college application, the student has an opportunity to capture the attention of the admissions officer through their skillfully crafted essay, proving their prowess.
The essay should also reveal something about the student’s personality. The admissions office deliberately builds their freshman class in an effort to construct their college culture. They would like to know if the student fits in. This is the time for students to reflect on who they are and convey that definition to the admissions office through their essay. The admissions office wants to become acquainted with the student and the student’s high school transcript doesn’t tell them enough. This is the time to highlight what makes the student unique, always focusing on the positive of course, and don't be afraid to get personal!
The college wants students who have something to contribute. Student activists or those involved in service work, for example, can help to build the college’s reputation. These students contribute by creating change on campus and in the community. The essay can be used as a tool to illustrate what the student can give back to the college community.
The task of an admissions officer, or the review committee, is not an easy one during application season. They often lock themselves in a room to read tens of thousands of applications. You can just imagine their frustration over their obligation to read countless unsatisfactory essays. Conversely, you can think about what an appealing diversion the occasional well-written, revealing essay provides. Make sure your essay is one of the good ones.
Some practical advise regarding college essays:
· Do not write they way you speak. Writing is considered one of the highest forms of communication. The student should attempt to show sophistication in their writing style and avoid slang. Phrases like “freak out” and “messing with each other” are not likely to impress those reading your essay.
· What you write about is as important as how you write it. If you can convince your reader that you are likable, your essay will serve you well. Weave in a subtle message about your character if possible. If you are respectful, compassionate, hard working, or possess integrity, share that!
· It may be a good idea to read examples of other college essay but do not try copy the style of the ones you’ve read. Be original. Be yourself.
Perhaps most importantly, help is available to guide you through the entire college process, including your essay. You don’t have to do it alone. Contact CollegeGPS to learn how we can help.