More College Essay Tip
Why do colleges require essays?
A college application includes a lot of
information about you, such as grades, recommendations, lists of
your extracurricular activities and test scores. All of that
information is very important and helps admission officers form a
picture of your accomplishments and abilities. However, while it
tells about how other people see you, there isn’t much about how you
see yourself. It’s that inside view — how you see yourself — that
colleges hope to find in your essay.
The essay performs other functions, as
well, such as:
• The essay
can be a way of showing that you have researched and thought
carefully about the college to which you are applying. It shows, in
your own words, why you and the college would be a good “match.”
• An essay demonstrates your
writing ability, which is a key component to success in college.
• In your essay, you can
show that you are willing to put yourself into what you do.
That kind of commitment is an important part of effective learning
in college. And it shows the admission committee that you are
someone who is willing and able to be a contributing member of a
community of learners.
• Your academic record is
the central and most important part of your application. For
selective colleges especially, your essay provides additional
insights about you — as a student and as an individual — for a
college to consider as it reviews your application.
Possible pitfalls when writing an
Writing a poem or making a videotape in place of an essay is
probably not a good idea, unless you’re applying to a specialized
school that encourages such a submission.
Humor can be risky, so be careful how you use it.
• “Honor code” rules are in
effect when you write an essay, so do your own work and don’t make
As a practical
matter, other items in the application, such as letters of
recommendation, make it quite possible that you would be found out
if you tried to make things up.
Some final tips
Leave yourself time to rewrite and revise. For the great
majority of people, this is not an easy assignment. Start early and
leave plenty of time! Most likely that means to give yourself weeks
(not days, and certainly not hours!) to rework your essay.
If your essay is longer than three pages (unless the instructions
call for something longer), then it had better be interesting! Think
hard about what you really want to focus on, and take out whatever
gets away from your central point.
• The admission committee
will take your essay seriously. You should, too. You have a lot
to gain by putting in the time and effort to write a good essay!