What Do Colleges Look For in the Application Essay?

What Do Colleges Look For in the Application Essay?
College admissions officers are real people with a tough job to do. Every year they choose a new freshman class, based on certain key characteristics and qualities that are revealed on the students' applications.
The college application essay has become an essential tool by which admissions officers make their decisions. These essays are meant to give the college a true sense of the student as a person. They highlight a unique or special side of the student, by creating a personal and positive image.

Writing a successful application essay requires a good amount of self-reflection. The student needs to get in touch with feelings, motivating factors, and strengths that express the core of his or her personality.

While there are no right or wrong answers to the writing prompts, admissions officers use these criteria for evaluating the essay.

Does the student come across as a real person?
Is the writing straight from the heart?
Is the essay distinctive?
Does the student give a sense of who they are?
In the entire application process, the student has the most control in the essay portion. Through these words, the student can create a snapshot of their lives, personality, and even philosophy. Yet, it needs to be accomplished with a genuine tone.

Specifically, the admissions officers are looking for the student's 'voice'. They need to hear that the student is more than the sum total of their GPA and SAT scores. Officers listen for the intangible and immeasurable moments that make up a person's life, and the student's evaluation and interpretation of those moments.

A trick to capturing a sincere writing style is to first verbally answer the writing prompt. Look into a mirror and pretend that you are speaking directly to the admissions officer. Jot down your key points as well as some the expressions you use to make those points. The terminology you normally use will convey a sense of realism to your reader.

Speak from your heart. If you are passionate about a subject or event, say so. Has a challenge impacted your life in a positive way? Share that moment with a vivid description of your feelings.

The essay should distinguish you in some way from all the other students who are also applying to that college. No, that is not a dauntless task, but one in which you are already thoroughly equipped.

Every person is unique. Your life has been made up of individual moments that have shaped your character, goals, and dreams. Writing about these distinctive moments sets you apart from the crowd.

Always keep in mind that the sole purpose of this essay is to communicate who you are as a person. Write as if the admissions officers are truly interested to read about you, because they really are.

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