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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Monday, May 29, 2017
What Students Should Be Looking for in an Admission Essay
In college admissions, there is no topic of discussion as heavily aerated as that of the admission essay. No one really understands what colleges want, and students become paralyzed by soul-searching over a keyboard. Guidance is made more difficult by the fact that adults have a wisdom of perspective that young teenagers simply haven't acquired yet. So when a teacher or college consultant tells a student to "be themselves" in the essay, there's just too much static congesting the conversation.

I'm a person that learns through examples. Even as an adult. And I know I'm not alone. Having someone describe expectations in platitudes just doesn't compute for me. So telling a student to "write from the heart" may be far less effective than showing them essays that "worked". Many universities and news sources annually post the essays of successful candidates. It is important to read these. Not because every high school senior can aspire to being one of the top writers in the country, but because seeing the work of their peers can help dislodge even the worst writer's block.

The excruciating level of competition in college admissions accords too much weight to the essay in the minds of students. Success is a matter of reframing the issue, and creating a good piece of writing for the sake of creating something good, not because it is what students think admissions officers want to hear. It's about trusting that you have an interesting story to tell. A good essay doesn't need to tell the college everything about you, so long as it can tell them something about you.

Rather than seeking to write something perfect, write about something you find interesting. And here's a challenge I'd field to every prospective applicant: write about something that appears nowhere else on your college application. That is how you add depth to your submission.

Like any challenge in life, try to look at the essay as an opportunity instead of a burden. Then take a leap of faith.

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