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College Admission Essays – What Are They Looking For?

The college admission essay proves to be the trickiest aspect of the college admission process. It is the only section where you can truly unleash your creative instincts. However, it is also the part that can get you into the college of your choice or leave you baffled about your rejection. It is therefore an extremely important part of the application process that defines your destiny. So how should you go about penning your essay?

The best approach is to give the selection committee what it is looking for. Here are a few pointers that can help you structure your essay for a sure winner.

What is the College Selection Committee looking for?

To cut the long and painful story short, they are looking for an insight into your personality, character and goals. This is the section where open ended questions are asked with the intention to gauge your maturity and intellect besides academics. This is the part where you talk about those aspects of your life that have not been covered elsewhere in the application form!

The best essays are known to be styled as excerpts – specific incidents from your life that brought about a major change in you or other similar noteworthy instances from your life. The reader of your essay has no personal experience with you and is looking to learn about you only through your essay. Your word choices, content and writing style reflects your true personality and character – more so than you can imagine! A well-documented logical explanation that links a specific incident to your character traits can go a long way in building a promising picture of you in the minds of your readers.

The essay serves as a tool to estimate your depth and broadmindedness as a person. It is the only piece of paper that represents the real you and sets you apart from your competition. In the mountainous piles of applications, there may be people sharing similar or higher qualifications than you. A well-constructed essay can give you the upper edge you deserve. So use it well!

What the College Selection Committee is NOT looking for?

Talking about oneself is not a problem. However, it is easy for you to lose track while doing so. Here are a few pointers you should keep in mind in order to limit the scope of your essay for maximum impact.

  1. They are not looking for information that is irrelevant or have not been asked. For instance, praising the college will not help in building your image as the reader already knows it!
  2. They do not want repeated information. The academics section is sufficient enough to reflect your performance thereof.
  3. They are not looking for longwinded complex answers that often do not seem to make sense. So you need to be simple and straightforward while answering and also keep your thesaurus at bay!
  4. They are not looking for a jumbled up account of your life that has no direction. So stick with one or two incidents and try to avoid overdoing the self-expression.
  5. They are not looking for an essay that seems to have been written by a fifth grader. So read and proofread your essay a couple of times to remove all spelling, typographical and grammatical errors.
  6. They are not looking for an essay that is painful to read. Rather, they are looking for something that touches their hearts and makes an impact that compels them to select you. So let your creativity flow and win you their decision.
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