No matter what anyone tells you, the essay is not the most important piece of the college admissions puzzle. It won’t make or break your child’s chances unless it’s horribly written with glaring grammar and spelling errors.
Though it’s not the golden ticket to admissions, the essay can be a place for your child to set himself apart, tell his story, explain his life, and show who he is—especially if your child has an unusual life compared to the average American kid. The essay can help your child sparkle!
Additionally, the essay could prove valuable for an “iffy” applicant who doesn’t quite have the courses or test scores admissions counselors like to see. It can open the counselors’ eyes and the schools’ doors if your child is teetering on the edge of being admitted.
So how important is the admissions essay, really? Well that probably depends on whether or not your child is an iffy applicant (an applicant that doesn’t quite meet the grades or test requirements). If he meets the advertised averages for GPA and test scores, the admissions essay isn’t crucial. It’ll probably just be skimmed. Remember, admissions counselors have thousands to read and very little time to read them.
After watching insider videos of admissions counselors discussing applicants, it was obvious the information they were using to determine whether or not to accept an iffy applicant was data they learned through the student’s admissions essay. Hard luck stories were given the greatest consideration.
The essay should tell your child’s story but not his entire life story. It should convey a single event or piece of who he is.
So what’s your child’s story? How can he turn it into a great essay? Here are some tips to help your child discover his story. Have him:
My daughter used a play on words and a little shock value in her essay. She played on the word “bar,” combining the ballet barre with the Bar Association for lawyers. She spent fourteen years at the ballet barre. As a Mock Trial student, she sat for the Georgia Junior Bar and passed with honors. Her goal was to go to Law School.
She began her essay this way:
It may sound sketchy, but I spent most of my childhood at one bar or another – bars in San Diego, bars in Georgia. My favorite bars were in San Francisco. But I really got to know myself after six months at the Houston bars. Believe me, bars taught strength, balance, and perseverance. Standing at the bar, I willed every muscle in my body into position and attempted to master the perfect arabesque – hoping it would look like that on stage.
The essay followed with a revelation of her intense ballet and mock trial training, her desire to go to law school, and how this college would be her next step in fulfilling her dreams of joining the American Bar Association as an attorney. The essay tied up nicely by referring back to her hook.
Although I’ve never been in a pub, you could say I’ve been obsessed with bars.
I hope this post helps clear up the mysteries of the College Admissions Essay! If you would like your child’s essay professionally edited, please email me for a reference to an editor that edits college essays.
Read on to learn more about preparing for college.
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