September 2007 Newsletter
It is important for the student to view the essay not as a hurdle through which to jump, but rather as an opportunity to speak directly with the admissions committee. Your grades, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation are already part of your application so there is no point in discussing any of this for it would only be redundant. You need to view your essay as a means of selling yourself to the admissions committee. This is a time to flaunt your talents, and your accomplishments, but be very careful not to do so in a self-serving, pompous way. The essay portion is the only part of the application where you have complete control, so take advantage of it and express your individuality.
While some colleges ask you to write very general personal statements, often the choice of a topic is not entirely up to you since many applications have specific questions for you to answer. Whatever topic you choose, keep in mind that the best essays tell a story about the applicant. An admissions counselor wants to feel that by reading your essay he or she has a glimpse into your life. Your ultimate goal should be that this essay will prove to be your best written work. So think about your daily life, what you like to do and what’s important to you. Sometimes a trivial thing such as a rubber band ball, a fond memory, or a debate that happened in French class can turn into an excellent essay.
Writing a powerful essay is not going to happen overnight. Just coming up with an idea may take some time. You might even have to write several different essays until you finally hit on something that you feel will work, and once you do, you may have to write several drafts. A powerful essay should help your reader understand just who you are and what makes you tick. A powerful essay could make your reader feel that he or she just had lunch with you. A powerful essay could be the one part of the application that gets you noticed and as a result, gets you in.