How Important Are College Admission Essays?

College admission essays play an increasingly important part of the college admissions process. Many schools require a college admission essay to decide between applicants who may otherwise share similar academic credentials. Read on to find out more about the importance of college admission essays.

The Importance of the College Admission Essay

College admission essays form an important part of a student's college application and are required by most schools. The essay is generally a response to a question posed in the college application, and a maximum essay length is usually imposed, forcing the applicant to succinctly make his or her point. The college admission essay gives the university a chance to gain an understanding of the applicant that may not be apparent in other portions of the application, such as admissions tests scores and GPAs. Because the essay is written from the perspective of the applicant, it provides the college with a unique glimpse of the goals and intentions of the student and may determine whether or not the student will be a good fit for the school.

Important Facts About College Admission Essays

Common Prompts Describe a person you admire, what is a book you love?, why do you want to attend this school?
Possible Essay Choices The common application lets students pick from a choice of five different essay prompts
Length Requirement Typically 250 words minimum
Essay Review Resources Paid sites are available, but students should seek help from a teacher or family member

Essay Content

The content of the admission essay depends upon the question posed in the application. Many universities ask students to speak about their past experiences, both academic and non-academic. Applicants may write about particular classes or extracurricular activities that may have made a strong impression on them. Universities generally value students who have asserted themselves both in school and in the community. Because of this, it is important that applicants highlight their strengths when speaking about their experiences. Universities tend to accept students who are well-rounded and have excelled in a wide variety of areas.

Tone of the Essay

Universities value honesty in an admission essay; therefore, it is important that applicants speak candidly about their experiences. Applicants must attempt to strike a balance between confidently selling themselves as a potential student and maintaining a tone of humility. Admissions employees have a great deal of experience reading college admission essays and can recognize when students are misrepresenting their past.

Spelling and Grammar

It is important that college applicants proofread their admission essays several times before submitting them. Although universities greatly value the content of the essay, spelling and grammatical errors will undoubtedly work against the applicant. Poorly written essays display a lack of care and show the university that the applicant is less than serious about the application process.

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