College essays are an opportunity for admissions officers to gauge a student’s writing ability. No matter the topic, no matter the question posed to applicants, each essay response is an opportunity for admissions officers to judge how well you can write, what kind of person you are, and how you think. If you think that college admissions officers aren’t looking at how well you convey your thoughts and are instead just looking to see if your college essays are consistent with your extracurricular activities and grades, you’d be wrong.
As Princeton’s Dean of Admission, Janet Rapelye, states to “The New York Times'” “The Choice” blog on the topic of college essays and writing ability, “Your ability to write well is critical to our decision because your writing reflects your thinking. No matter what question is asked on a college application, admission officers are looking to see how well you convey your ideas and express yourself in writing. It is our window to your world.” She’s exactly right.
So what kind of window are you going to choose? How are you going to portray yourself? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as you brainstorm essay topics. If you’re a senior, hopefully you’ve already done all of this since the clock is surely ticking. But if you’re a junior, start thinking about these questions. Start thinking about what you want to say about yourself to college admissions officers. And start thinking about just how you want to say it.