The college essay is a fire-breathing dragon, guarding the ivory and iron gates of your dream school. It exists for no other purpose than to set you aflame, roast you like a s’more, and gobble you whole.
Well, it can feel like that sometimes, but the truth is that the essay can be your friend. It lets you do two things that you can't really do any other place on your application:
• Show admission officers a side of yourself that they won’t see in the other parts of your application (and we don’t mean mooning). They already know your grades, scores, and extra-curriculars. Now you get to be real.
• Let your unique voice be heard. Colleges want to admit interesting people. Your voice is more interesting than your test scores.
The great thing about the college essay is that you have total and complete control over it right now. Your grades for the last three years are already over and done with (for better or for worse). Your SAT and/or ACT scores ultimately only tell the story of how well you did over three hours on one testing day. And it certainly might not have been a good day. You have picked some great teachers to write you recommendation letters, but you can't control what they'll say. But the essay is yours. All yours, baby. Work it..
So maybe it's a dragon, but make it your dragon. Pet it. Train it to work for you – think: last few scenes of Avatar. Climb right up on its back and watch with glee as it burns down the gates keeping you out of the school you want to go to.