What Do Universities Look for in a College Admission Essay?

Your college admission essay is an important part of the overall application because it serves as an opportunity to set yourself apart. Read below to find out what universities look for in an admission essay.

A College Admission Essay

Nearly all colleges and universities require applicants to complete a college admission essay as part of the application. If an admissions choice comes between you and another applicant, the essay just may be the deciding factor.

The essay usually takes the form of an original answer to a question posed by the university. For instance, the question may ask for certain information regarding your background or ask you to explain what contribution you can add to the university's legacy. Often, a university will ask you to describe your educational, work and volunteer experience.

The college admission essay offers the university a window into your world. It is a way for them to learn things about you that are included in your transcripts or other application paperwork. The following are some essential aspects of a college admission essay to keep in mind.

Important Facts About College Applications

Academic Considerations Grade Point Average (weighted and unweighted), standardized test scores, AP/IB courses
Extracurricular Considerations Athletic teams, special interest clubs, community service, student government
Supplemental Materials Letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor
Additional Requirements Programs in a specialized field may have additional application requirements, such as an audition for a theater program or the completion of prerequisite math courses for an accounting program

Grammar and Punctuation

Although it seems obvious, grammar and punctuation play a large role in the overall tone and success of an essay. A well-written essay that contains typos or other grammatical errors will not be as strong as an error-free piece. Using a word processing program can help you to avoid these formatting errors.

Style and Personality

It could be said that the style of a college admission essay is nearly as important as the content. The style gives the university a sense of your personality, which helps them determine whether you would be a good fit for the school. It is often difficult to inject personality into an essay, but you should be sure to spend time on the essay's style.

Honesty

Universities want an accurate portrait of you, so be honest throughout the college admission essay. A college may frown upon an essay that seems overblown or doubtful. It is possible to be straightforward about your past experience while using a style that draws the reader in.

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