Why Is the College Application Essay So Important?

Why Is the College Application Essay So Important?
Okay, your grades and SAT score are recorded on your high school transcript, and you have compiled a 'brag sheet' listing all of your accomplishments and activities. But now, you have to write an essay or personal statement as part of the college application process.
Why? Can't the admissions officer see that you are an intelligent student and worthy of a place in their university? Yes and no.

Your academic and extracurricular successes only reveal you, the student; the college admission essay gives a sense of you, the unique individual. This essay is designed to breathe life into your college application. This is your chance to stand out, not only as a potential student, but as a three-dimensional person.

In the geometric world, the three dimensions are length, width, and depth. We can think of 'length' as the course of your academic career, which is revealed in your high school transcript. The 'width' of your education includes activities that you have embraced because of a particular interest or skill. These activities have enlarged and added to the scope of your education.

But the 'depth' of your application is the essay. Here is an opportunity to provide your thoughts, insights and feelings.

To write an outstanding essay, keep these three points in mind:
1. The objective of the essay is to communicate who you are.
2. The person reading your essay is a college admissions officer.
3. Your goal in writing the essay is to get into a particular college.

While these may seem like very basic principles, they create the essential framework upon which the essay is written.

Since the objective of the essay is to give the admissions officer a sense of who you are, you need to first know yourself. While your initial thought may be that you already know everything about yourself, compiling a personal profile gives you a readily available source of information. This step also begins the critical self-analysis process that will generate ideas for the entire essay.

Your personal profile should record facts like your favorite books, subjects, or music. Recall momentous moments in your life where you faced a fear, accepted a challenge, or made a difference in a person's life. Your profile could also include a few quotes from famous people or your own personal philosophy about life.

The next thing to remember is that the essay will be written 'to' a college admissions officer. Or to put it simply, the essay will be your introduction to this person. Relax and be yourself. This is timeless advice and one that will give your essay a sense of genuineness. Being self-reflective has no right or wrong answers. While it's important to use proper grammar, admissions officers are more concerned about the subject of the essay, which is you.

Finally, you need to remind yourself that you are writing this essay to get into a particular college. It's best to first familiarize yourself with the purpose, goals, and history of the college. Visit their Web site, read their catalog, or talk to friends or family members who attended the school.

Identify a few key points that resonate with you and include them in the essay. Let the college admissions officer know that you have researched the school and found areas that interested you and motivated you to apply.

Although the college application essay is only part of the admissions process, it is the only part that gives you the opportunity to communicate who you are as a person.

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