Yes, the essays are a big deal! If you are unsure if your application essays meet these four criteria, you may want consider seeking assistance of someone who works specifically with college application essays.
In a nationwide survey of Independent Education Consultants, the college essay is ranked as the 4th most important item that colleges consider in high school applications. (Numbers 1-3 include a rigorous curriculum, strong grades, and high standardized test scores).
While every part of the application process has its place, sometimes students rush through the essays or perhaps choose to not do the optional essays, thinking that their grades speak for themselves or that they don't have anything interesting to write about.
Admissions Boards are looking for students who rise to the challenge of every part of the application! Each college is different; likewise each university puts different value upon the criteria upon the priorities for admission. However, a strong college application essays show all or most of these four elements:
Does your essay give a glimpse of what is unique or special about you? Does it reveal talents or experiences or your proudest moment or deepest fears? If someone else in the room read your essay, could your friends and family pick it out?
Goals or Values
Does your essay give insight into what you believe in or what makes you tick? Does your story give insight into your long or short term goals? Does your writing speak of what your next steps in life might include?
Thoughtful and Highly Personal
Will the reader believe you spent time on this piece of writing? Is there truly something of an insightful you here? Did it come from a deeper, more vulnerable place than perhaps you even you knew existed?
Careful and Well Constructed Writing
The words, sentences and paragraphs must be impeccably crafted. You must use your best writing skills, and even then, you must get the necessary guidance and objective editing help to make it even better. Remember, this is your college essay! You get one shot to make an impression on the College Admissions Board.
If any or all of these four is missing or weak in your college essay, you may want to consider seeking the assistance of someone who is trained in helping with this type of writing. Many students make the mistake of thinking college essays are like the regular writing they may do for high school classes. The goal is very different for a college application essay, however.
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