How is my application essay used in admission?

Rhiannon Schade
Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn

Many students think that the college essay is where they argue their case for admission. There is a temptation to list every single one of your accomplishments and involvements throughout high school to demonstrate that you are admissible. But students who approach the college essay this way are failing to see its role in the college admission process.

The college essay is not about proving your worthiness to attend the colleges to which you are applying. It is not about showing off your greatest accomplishments. College admission officers look at your transcript to determine whether or not you are academically prepared. In addition to your transcript, they look at your standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and activities to make a decision about whether or not you meet the standards of the college.

By the time they get to the application essay, there is only one question left: What are you really like? What would it be like to hang out with you as a fellow student? What kind of personality, passion, and energy would you bring to your dorm, the classroom, and the campus as a whole? So the college essay plays an entirely different role in the admission process than your credentials and the rest of your application. It becomes the way that college admission officers get to know you as a person. Remember that function as you are writing it!

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