Why are College Essays so important?

The college application essays are more important than ever

 Don’t take my word for it:

"The more exclusive the college, the more weight given to the essay than GPA"     New York Times

"The essay differentiates one top student from the next"       Stanford University Admissions Officer

Look at the stats:

Harvard..........34,295 applicants...Only 2,023 admitted
Yale………....30,922 applicants…Only 1,935 admitted
Princeton…...26,607applicants …Only 1,939 admitted
Columbia…..32,952applicants …Only 2,291 admitted

Then WHY is the essay process so important? A student’s transcripts as well as his academic and extra-curricular achievements do not give any unique insight into the student as a person. Yes….they will illustrate hard work, intelligence, drive, aptitude, etc. However, these are the same attributes reflected in the 30,000 other applications for the same institution. I know that grandpa says, “No one is as perfect as my granddaughter” but in this arena….the obvious is commonplace.

Simply put, essays help the admissions office evaluate your teen’s potential to fit into their school’s community and culture as a person. (Not as a student….not as club president….not as the driving force for raising money with a dance-a-thon or relay-for-life team and not as a swimmer who placed first in his county). Once again…the 28,000 other students….many of whom were driven to get 2400 on their SAT were also club presidents and competitors who gave their time to charity work….if not a kidney.

What makes your son laugh? What is your daughter passionate about? (Other than science, math, engineering and playing first violin in the school orchestra). How will your son or daughter contribute to the school community? Does she play Frisbee? Does he cook? (I can hear the parents now signing up their tenth grade sons for baking lessons). Stop. Your teenager IS unique. I don’t mean to sound like Oprah but each of us is unique and special. The essays are your opportunity to express that uniqueness.

This is where the essays come in:

Let’s assume that your teen’s transcript looks identical to all of the other transcripts being viewed by a particular college. On paper, your student and the other 30,000 students took twelve AP classes, have 4.0GPA, were Valedictorians, cured Cancer, and won Olympic Gold. Just remember, you aren’t the only parent with a bumper sticker that reads, “My child is an Honor Student.”

Stop thinking so hard: You need not be abducted by Aliens to be unique. It’s right there in front of you. What makes your son or daughter a well-rounded, likable, lovable teen?

Read between the lines: Through the essays, the admission officer wants to see any ONE of these qualities. Does the candidate have the ability to adapt to change, persist through difficulty, interpret social cues, lead AND follow (participate as part of…) be creative and handle disappointment?

Is the candidate confident, realistically self-aware of flaws and limitations, understanding and accepting of diversity, able to put off immediate gratification, have a strong support person and able to have real world experience of acquired academic knowledge? There are many, many, many more possible topics. These are just a few.

Your head will explode if you try to integrate all of these elements into the essays. Just be aware these elements exist and see if you can address a couple….subtly….without hitting them over the head or forcing the subject. The Bottom Line: They want to know how your teen will FIT into their community.

Maximize your chances with the best possible essays. MUCH MORE TO COME IN FUTURE ARTICLES….I’m late now for my baking lessons….