Are your test scores good enough to get you a first class ticket into the top college programs? Alone, the answer is no way! Colleges are swamped by applicants with great test scores these days. To get into that dream school, the trick is using your college admissions essay to get the admissions committee to see you as a more than a just another set of numbers. You need to be a someone that shouts “I can bring something unique to your University!” After all, the college admissions committee already knows what their university can do for you. To get in, your college admission essay needs to show the admission committee what characteristics that you are going to bring to their college. The college admission essay can make or break your application, but have no fear. These tips will help you to stay on top of the curve.
Underestimating the importance of your college admissions essay can be a fatal mistake. This part of the application process is the most important because colleges are swamped with applications, and this is your one and only chance to stand out from the crowd. According to USA Today, the number of college applications has risen to an all time high, and to make matters worse cuts in government funding means that admission rates are hardly growing at all1. For hopeful students, this means that state funded “safety” schools are turning down more applicants than ever, and private schools are overwhelmed by the number of applications they are receiving. This means that more than ever, the college admission essay is what sets top students apart, and ultimately keeps the rejection letters out of your mailbox.
There is no formula for writing a college admissions essay. Actually, the trick to writing a great college admission essay is to be as far off from the formula approach as possible. Imagine that you are on a college admissions committee. After reading a thousand or more five paragraph, dull, and unexciting essays, they all just start to look alike. As a writer, ask yourself what you can do to make those admissions advisors remember you. How can you make it fun for them? The goal is to get the people making the decision talking over coffee, saying “Hey, do you remember that college admissions essay we saw this morning…” If you were memorable, your essay was a success. For example, try breaking away from the norm by telling a story, writing a narrative about what made you choose the field, or passionately discussing a significant experience that goes above and beyond academic to show you as a person that is contributing to society. After all, great grades are a dime-a-dozen, but great people are rare.
Your college admission essay needs to say something that sticks out in people’s minds and imaginations. It must persuade them that you are not only smart and dedicated, but that you are also a good person to work with—the type of person that they would like to work with for the next two to four years. Let it really show who you are, and you will never need to fear rejection letters again.
- Chea, Terence. (1 Jan. 2010). College Applications Rise, But Budget Cuts Cap Enrollment. USA Today. Retrieved 14 September 2010 http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-01-14-college-admissions_N.htm