Seniors: Get a head start on your college apps this summer!

3 College Essays Tips from Former Admissions Officers

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Answer_Crazy_Essay_QuestionsHere’s What to Keep in Mind When Writing College Essays

College application essays are often the most stressed about component of the admissions process, but they don’t have to be! By taking some time to learn what admissions officers are looking for students can feel confident when crafting their college application essays.

At IvyWise our team of expert counselors is made up of former deans and directors of admission from some of the most selective colleges and universities in the US – they know what admissions officers are looking for when evaluating applications! When it comes to writing compelling essays, students need to keep a few simple tips in mind in order to approach the process in a stress-free manner. Here are three simple tips from former admissions officers on what to keep in mind when finishing up your college application essays.

Let Admissions Officers Get to Know You
Colleges are looking to really get to know the applicant in their essays. There is only so much that an application reader can learn from a list of extracurricular activities, transcript, test scores, recommendation letters, and other application materials. Often, the best way to get a clear picture of a student’s goals, accomplishments and character is to hear it directly from the student. Essays offer students a chance to share something with admissions officers that they don’t already know, and also offer students an opportunity to demonstrate their interest in a school. Students shouldn’t regurgitate information that’s already available—they should reveal something that can’t be found anywhere else in the application.

Be Detailed in Supplements
For certain school-specific essay questions, or the common “why this school?” question, students should get specific. Colleges are looking for really detailed and well-researched responses here. It’s not enough to say, “I want to go to XX University because it’s a great school.” Colleges want to know that a student has done their homework on the institution and has really thought about how they will fit into the campus community. This is referred to as informed interest. Students should mention specific courses or professors of interest. They can elaborate on campus organizations or programs that fit certain goals, and certain aspects of the campus community that make it a good social and academic fit. Admissions officers should be able to clearly see where a student might fit into the fabric of the community based on their answer to this question.

Avoid Common Mistakes
There are simple mistakes that students make every year when it comes to their college application essays. It’s important to keep an eye out for these simple mistakes and work to resolve them before submitting your final applications. Some common mistakes students make in their college application essays include:

  • Trying to sound like someone else or writing about things they think admissions readers what to hear. Students want to find the best-fit school for them and that means they need to be authentic in their applications.
  • Not proofreading. Another huge mistake students make is to not do that final read-through to catch any last spelling or punctuation errors. You don’t want to work hard on your essay and then leave the reader wondering if you truly meant “marital” arts over “martial” arts.
  • Copy and pasting. Supplemental essays should all be unique and focused on the school you are applying to. Don’t copy the essay you wrote for Tufts and try to apply it to Hamilton.

College application essays aren’t rocket science but they are an important part of the admissions process that students need to invest a good amount of time and effort into. If you’re struggling with your college application essays, our team of expert counselors can help! Contact us today for more information on our college counseling services.



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