If you’re like many other prospective college students, chances exist you’ve asked about the importance of college essays before. We’ll know how important it is to score well on standardized tests, have high GPAs, and include extracurriculars in our application. But there’s one more thing that often pops up in college admission discussions – essays!
Do college application essays matter? Why should you pay any importance to making your essay stand out? We’ll find out in this article, but first, let’s discuss the basics.
How Important are College Application Essays?
One question that always pops up in college discussions is, “How important are college essays?” While a majority of people can tell that college essays are important, not everyone knows to what extent they are important. The simple answer to how important college application essays are is “it depends on the college selectivity.”
Remember, most American colleges typically accept a significant number of applicants. However, the acceptance rate is not the same across boards, as it can go down to as low as 3.5% of applications in some schools. So, to understand the real importance of college application essays, you may need to narrow down the school you’re applying to.
For example, if you’re applying to any of the top 250 schools in the United States, you should know that your application essays will account for 25% of your overall application. When put into context, this percentage is only slightly behind the 30% often allocated for extracurriculars. Compared to other application criteria, essays are ahead of coursework and grades (20%), test scores (15%), interviews and recommendations (10%).
With schools switching to test-blind or test-optional, you can expect a slight change in these breakdowns. These situations mean less importance on test scores and more importance on other parts of your application, including essays.
Why Do Colleges Require a College Admission Essay?
Put simply, colleges require college admission essays because they’re the most personal part of a student’s application. Admission officers typically use these essays to evaluate your writing skills, character, and how much self-respect you have. It’s simply your chance to show what you can bring to the institution.
Most schools have thousands of people applying for admission every year. Quite a good percentage of these applicants would have stellar grades, with some coming top of their classes. Some would still go on to do exceedingly brilliant things like leading a project or building a startup.
How can you convince the college that you deserve a shot beyond these achievements? That’s where essays come in. College admission essays exist to tell more about you to admission officers. It gives them insight into your personality. It even says a lot about your background or some backstory that’ll tell the admission officers who you are.
Don’t be surprised if your admission decision boils down to the brilliance of your essay. Some colleges even require supplemental essays about specific topics to ascertain your writing ability under strict guidelines.
What Should Be in Your College Application Essay?
When it comes to deciding what makes a good college application essay, the first thing to consider is its components. You want to ensure that the application essay has everything the admissions committee is looking for, and that’s where knowing the right ingredients of a standout college essay comes into play. Here are some of the important components of a top college admission essay.
- A unique, meaningful topic: Essay topics are best when they represent something meaningful to you. So, the best place to start is to choose a topic you can do justice on.
- A memorable introduction: With thousands of essays to read, your introduction can decide whether an admission officer reads your essay or not. Therefore, we recommend having a memorable introduction that offers vivid imagery of what you intend to talk about and an intriguing hook.
- Specific stories and language: You want to tell stories that resonate with your readers. While personalizing your essay, ensure your stories are in clear language that shows instead of telling your thoughts.
- Authentic Vulnerability: There’s a thin line between vulnerability and soliciting sympathy. Don’t try to sound too perfect. Let your vulnerability show in an authentic manner, but also ensure that you’re not trying too hard to solicit sympathy.
- A clear conclusion or creative ending: Your conclusion matters as much as every other part of your essay. It’s an opportunity for you to wrap up your points and offer deep insights into concepts you’re yet to do justice to. Keep it simple but detailed enough to not leave admission committee members guessing any more facts.
How to Make Your College Application Stand Out With College Essays?
The best college essays are the ones that improve your chances of admission. However, it takes a level of expertise to know how to craft your admission later in a way that stands out, and that’s why you must go beyond just knowing the importance of college essays to know the techniques involved.
Thus, to make your college essay stand out, you must invest in making your essay as appealing as possible. This is why many people recommend having an expert handle it for you. But it’s okay if you can’t afford a pricey counselor to help guide you through the process because there’s no magic formula for it. You just need to know your unique story and tell it in a way that resonates with your readers.
You’ll be good with the outcome if you give yourself enough time to brainstorm, write, and rewrite. It’s also good to ask for feedback from people who have experienced the process. This way, you’ll end up with a solid final draft that catches everybody’s attention.
How to Write a Great College Application Essay: 5 Tips
Now that we’re here, you’re probably wondering how to write a great college admission essay. Yes, we’ve discussed what makes a good college application essay, but how do you do it? Here, let’s review some tips that can help.
Pick a topic that’s important to you
We can’t stop emphasizing the need to go personal in your essay. The best essays are often the ones that tell relatable and memorable stories. Therefore, choosing a topic that holds personal meaning to you will help you write with note focus, enthusiasm, and authenticity while maintaining the reader’s interest.
Maintain the focus on yourself
Unlike recommendation letters and test scores, a good essay topic will give you considerable control over how you express your best self. Therefore, focusing the essay on yourself rather than others is important.
Even when writing a personal statement about a mentor or an influential teacher, it still makes sense to keep the story focused on yourself. Say things like the person who drove you to take actions that changed your life for the better.
Being funny is tough
One of the easiest ways to hold an admission officer’s attention is to make them laugh. However, we often advise students to avoid that route, especially if they’re unsure how to do it. Remember, what you think is funny may be totally different from what an adult in college thinks to be funny. Therefore, experts often advise against limericks, one-liners, and anything off-colour.
Use specific details and examples
College essays are designed to illustrate students’ potential by outlining their achievements. Therefore, while preparing your essay, include detailed examples and descriptions that portray your experiences more than your future goals.
Pass your essay through someone for a detailed edit
Unless you have the most terrible attitude in school, you’ll always find a teacher who’ll be willing to be the extra eye to your essay. Otherwise, you can meet a college counselor for it. And before sending it off, we recommend checking your essay again and again to ensure it is free of grammar and spelling errors.
Wrapping Things Up: Do College Application Essays Matter?
So far, we’ve reviewed everything you should know about a college application essay. However, to answer the above question, you must review the purpose of a college application essay. Add the purposes listed in this article to the importance of these essays, and you can tell that it’s almost a must to pay attention to the tiniest details when writing your essay.
Fortunately, we’ve also included useful tips to help you write a top-notch essay. It boils down to how much attention you pay to doing it correctly. You can look at the many available resources online with college essay examples to see a clear format of how to go about it. Otherwise, you can just contact an experienced admissions counselor to guide you through the process.