Correct that: Verrrrrrry. Or how about (very)3?
We are hitting you over the head because here is a free lottery ticket to change the failings of your past; or in positive light, in a brilliant essay, you can magnify all the great things you have done thus far in your young life.
The essays are in many ways the most important part of the qualitative application. They are you. But they also speak in your voice. They tell the poor admin people who have to read 10,000 of these things that you are different (if you write it right, right?). They scream, “You want me!” Or they whisper it, if that’s your style.
And oddly maybe, you will remember this essay for a very long time. Most people who attended competitive high-octane universities will be able to tell you even when they are 40 (yeah, that’s like ancient, almost dead) what they wrote in their college application essay. For some great ones, click here.
Obviously not all colleges are the same. Some are really “just by the numbers”. That is, there is some formula that a bureaucrat at the state capitol created to allocate fairly a given number of seats. It might be something like, “If your adjusted-GPA is over 3.5 and your SAT scores are in the 90th percentile or better, you automatically get in.”
That’s great. But a lot of kids who don’t fit this bill likely also got in. Why? Because they could run a 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds in helmet and full pads. The SECOND reason that other kids got in who didn’t qualify by the numbers was that they wrote a killer essay. A golden ticket college essay won't necessarily be the key that gets you into college. Why? Because admission officers know that lots of students get tons of help – too much help – on their essay from moms, dads, and highly-paid professional college essay coaches. Admission committees know this “short cut” is the easiest part of the application to game and don't appreciate reading essays that scream in $5 words.
In many cases, the college essay is a sort of a pass/fail piece. You need to pass a certain bar, at which point other parts of your application – your academic record, your list of extracurricular activities, and your teacher recommendations – become more important. Basically, writing an A+ essay isn't necessary for admission, but writing a bad essay could kill your whole application.
Part of the key to the college essay, then, is simply not to shoot yourself in the foot. Shmoop is here to help save you from crutches.
How do you NOT appear to have lots of help? Write intimate. Write real. Write right. Tell ‘em who you really are in such a way that some $250 an hour college-essay-writing-pro couldn’t have written. Speak from inside your heart and good stuff will flow out.