Kim Parros

Oh, the rising senior class’s dreaded season is upon us– college application season. This is the time of year that most students have written an essay for their college applications in their English class. This is also the time that we get asked if we think that the essay is appropriate to submit on the Common Application.

“I got an A+ on this essay, so I know that it will rock the admission counselor’s world to read it,” is one of the many confident comments we receive from our students.

Over the years we have seen over 20,000 essays for college admission. They are the part of the application that is most dreaded by students and most eagerly read by admissions. It is also the part where the student can have their hopes dashed. It is so disappointing to an admission counselor to read something that is not impressive, especially if the student looked so promising on paper.

With all of this in mind, we want to point out a few very important tips as you review your own essay.

  • Put yourself in the admission counselors’ seat- what is it you are trying to tell them about yourself that you have not said other places in your application? Look at the mission statement on the college’s website– have you expressed how you fit into that mold?
  • If you were doing their job, would you want YOU selected in their class that they are putting together? What can you do for the college that someone else can’t?
  • Have you differentiated yourself enough from the other applicants so that if they saw you on the campus they would feel like they know you and like you?
  • Beyond your GPA, Test scores, AP classes and extra curriculars, what is so impressive about yourself that makes your friends, family, and others want to be with you and perhaps learn from you?

The student needs to keep in mind that trying to think of reasons why they should be offered a college place ahead of others with identical grades is not easy. The essay that you wrote for English class perhaps doesn’t do a wonderful job of selling yourself, since this does not usually happen naturally. While it may have scored great grade, you need to ask yourself if it will really help you to get that exclusive spot in the next class of your favorite college.

Making a college essay stand out takes understanding, patience, direction, and excellent execution to make sure that it stands out for the college admission counselor that wants to accept you into their class but needs a reason, beyond your grades, to say yes to you.