Advice for Students Regarding College Admission Essay

Advice for Students Regarding College Admission Essay :


In your career, you have read thousands if not tens of thousands of essays. What advice do you have for students?


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

In today’s admission marketplace the essay can move you up and down the scale. A strong essay can make a difference. The most important thing you can do to improve your writing is to constantly rewrite. Work on perfecting your essay. Don’t pull an all-nighter and think that is enough to produce a successful essay. You need to spend time on each essay every day. Rewriting is more important than the first draft. Writing isn’t easy. You need to work at it. You can’t treat it like a midterm exam and do it all the night before. You need to bite the bullet and work your tail off to create a compelling essay.

Elizabeth Mosier - Acting Director of Admissions - Bryn Mawr College

I suggest that you start with an oral draft. Tell your story to a friend. Tell it to a parent. That will get you started. You learn what you believe, what you value and what kind of people you admire. Plus, who better than a friend to say, “Oh please, you’re full of it.” Writing your essay should be a process, just like discussing an idea and it should bring you to a place you’ve never been before.

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

I tell students to start thinking as early as their sophomore or junior years about what they’ve read, stories they’ve heard and events in their life that even if they were simple events had huge implications for them. We’re really jaded when it comes to essays and topics. We’ve read the ones about visiting the Wailing Wall or standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes it’s as if the student feels the only way to stand out is by being the only survivor of the Titanic. But we really appreciate someone writing about a simple incident and showing us a deeper meaning. Think about your friendships, your disappointments, your successes and the basics in life. If you do this early, you will have a wealth of options to write about when the time comes.

Peter Osgood - Director of Admission - Harvey Mudd College and Former Associate Dean of Admission - Pomona College

The essay is usually the last thing the student does. They put it off until the very end. This creates a lot of problems. A lot of students in my opinion try to make themselves into their vision of what the colleges want. If the student has done a good search and started from inside themselves and then found colleges that match them, they have less to worry about. We sometimes get these hyper, anxious students who are trying to conform themselves to what they think the college wants. Students should work inside out and their essays should be an extension of that.

Gail Sweezey - Director of Admissions - Gettysburg College

I always remind students that the application is really a way to tell their story. Think of the essay as a piece of your story and then tell it to us.

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