What is the real reason for the college admission essay?

What is the real reason for the college admission essay? :


Many students wonder why colleges require an essay. What is the real reason for the essay?


Lloyd Peterson - Former Senior Associate Director of Admissions - Yale University and Director of Education, College Coach

College admission for the most part is a two-dimensional process. It is the essays that add the vital third dimension. We don’t want to know your family history or what we can learn from your application or transcript. We use the essays as a window into your soul. We want to see a slice of your life that is the most meaningful to you.

William T. Conley - Dean of Undergraduate Admission - Case Western Reserve University

The essay is one of the means that we use to validate other information and achievements. For instance, if an applicant is an A student in English and we read an essay that’s fundamentally flawed, then we would question whether or not the transcript tells an accurate story. On the other hand we might have an applicant who has a C in English but who produces a beautiful essay. It might alert us to the fact that this applicant doesn’t march to the same drum as other students at his school but is nevertheless a brilliant writer. Upon investigating further we may discover that the real question we need to ask about this applicant is whether or not we want a brilliant writer who may sleep through 8 a.m. classes. Students need to take the essay seriously. It’s not the only part of your application, but don’t underestimate it either.

Michael Thorp - Director of Admissions - Lawrence University

The essay is important because we can’t interview every student who applies. The essay is the students’ chance to let us get to know them as an individual. It helps the students become more than a transcript and test score. It helps us empathize with who they are. It also helps us know how well the students can organize their thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs.

Most admission people are looking for reasons to admit you - even at schools that admit a very small percentage of their applicants. You may have a 4.0 and 1600 SAT, but so do thousands of other students. This is where the essay comes in and where we can see the students’ unique perspective and personality.

Elizabeth Mosier - Acting Director of Admissions - Bryn Mawr College

The essay is important. The essay is where we in the admission committee get to learn more about each applicant and see what they believe in and value. Because writing itself is a way of demonstrating your ability to think, we get a good idea of how a student thinks through the essay.

For many people an admission essay may just look like another piece of paper, but to us it is a window into an applicant’s mind.

Gail Sweezey - Director of Admissions - Gettysburg College

While the essay is part of the overall package and we do look carefully at everything, it does offer students the best chance for reflection. For us in the admission office it is our best chance to learn what is important to the applicant. From their essays we can see what they value.

What is the real reason for the college admission essay?

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