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Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves.Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.
When you’re juggling transcripts, forms, dates, and everything else, it’s easy to brush off the college application essay as “just another part of the application.”However, while it’s true that the essay isn’t the only thing that matters to college admissions officers, a great essay can actually compensate for less than stellar grades. Most of the other parts of the application are just lists and statistics: GPA, courses taken, a list of extracurriculars, maybe some work or volunteer experience.
This stuff matters…but it doesn’t make you special.
However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit.
So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities , to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates. You have a unique background, interests and personality.
A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores.
We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application.
When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary.
Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application–nor should it repeat it.
Last year’s Common Application essays had a word limit of 650 words. Before getting started, read some college essay examples.
Colleges will learn about you from your transcript and standardized test scores but those are just numbers. You want to be original and tell your story however, it helps to understand what makes a good essay.