Every year colleges review applications from students, the majority of whom have similar grades, SAT and ACT scores, and even extracurricular activities that have the same scope and importance. Your college essay is probably the most powerful differentiator ever that can influence the application (and admission decision). By far, it speaks about You! But, going through rigorous regimes at the time of admissions, entrance or intermediary tests, College Essays (aka College Application Essays) are, unfortunately, the most neglected of all. In this post, Parinita Gupta discusses what makes College Essays an important subject of discussion today, and how it can be an excellent device to mark you out among a stunning crowd!
All You Need to Know About College Essays
By Parinita Gupta
Importance of a College Essay
The college essay is an integral component of the final decision about a student’s acceptance into undergraduate programs. This document is the individual’s chance to make an impression; to show career aspirations, personal and professional experiences, educational goals, and some indication that the school’s curriculum would be beneficial to the student’s professional plans.
The college essay is monumentally critical; analyzed with considerable diligence. The essay should be one more tool utilized to present the student as an asset to the student community, college or university.
What do Admission Officers (or Colleges) Look for in College Essay?
This will overall give you an idea of what your examiners are primarily searching for, when they are going through your content that inherently runs through pages, just like many others. While you focus on creating big lines about the big subject, they are mostly trying to read between the lines.
So here are a few relevant features that you need to consider before you melt your hands into something dreary and uninteresting.
The first and foremost that comes into the picture are your language basics, error-free language structures, spellings, minute grammatical details in a language, that will further become your medium of studies to rest the pillars of your future success upon. You need to be logically clear about all the phrases, vocabulary and grammar you are using in your essay and should consider not being too much repetitive.
When we talk of Creativity here, it is not something very artistic but only art of thinking out of the box. A simple way of expression is common to all. The better you find a way to express your thoughts and ideas, the more chances you create for yourself to be noticed by your examiners. But, this is not it. Another aspect of creativity is to create a unique style of writing of your own.
You may be witty, humorous or subjective, but getting into a style of your own maintains consistency from start to end. Thus, your essay is thoroughly uniform, and once your examiner finds an interest, they will want to keep on reading and never let it end.
Ethics & Integrity
Nowadays, it is not only merit or intelligence that is gaining importance, but organizations are currently getting more into human values, ethical approaches, and the ability to judge and take the right decisions when needed. Colleges want to be more familiar with their students, understand their thinking abilities, potential and strength. For this, they intend to judge students by their statements, opinions, assumptions, and evaluations.
Therefore, an essay sometimes may take you to crossroads and ask you to choose a way-out. Critical case studies, report analyses are some of these instances where examiners want you to strongly advocate ideas and validate them with your ethical reasoning.
When it comes to any general subject, event, cause or concern, be it social, political or cultural you may easily fill your pages with common ideas and statements one may find around, and sometimes include them all together. But then something that your essay begins to lack seriously – the approach.
A subject is often like a spectrum projecting various aspects, but to build your essay with only two or three of them makes your writing really strong and determined at something and also informs your examiners, how tenacious and unyielding you are.
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Knowledge, Awareness & Current Affairs
Of all, this is, but too delicate, as this is to test your ‘awareness’. How inclusive you are about anything and everything happening around, is much of real need in the modern-day world. The world is rapidly changing and each day marks certain unprecedented changes in the world of either history or geography, politics, economy, science, and discoveries.
In case you are there to produce a subjective essay, you must be able to support it with real facts, figures, and valid inferences. Here, your essay is more likely to be knowledge-based, informative, analytical and should not be built upon abstract statements and vague ideas.
Your Own Contribution
Of all the above, this is something to have acquired the least important so far. The time consumed to write so carefully about something, and then some more invested to absorb it, should be worthy enough and accompanied by a good purpose. In addition, here, the only aspect that can really carve your essay out of the wall is how you contribute. The willingness to bring about a change is not so common to all.
Any subject you pick, discuss, assess and evaluate should eventually be adding some value to your audience, and the society, at large. This also gives your essay a wholesome purpose and does not just limit it within set boundaries.
All the features listed above vary proportionately depending on the type of essay you choose, the context, and the content. Therefore, your choice of essay also plays a very large role in determining how good your essay actually is.
Hence, we can broadly categorize your essay into two types:
Abstract & Generalized
Such kind of essays mostly centers upon a common subject revolving around the mass or a mass cause. This can be –
About a Social Cause: Any social concern, which is abstract and general, may have both advantages and disadvantages and may discern upon, both in favor or against the notion. For instance, pollution, global warming, terrorism, inflation, urbanization, education system all comprise a cause that will need strong views and ideologies to create an impression out of a very commonly discussed subject.
About Current Affairs: This may involve a recent political bill or legislative issues, a Government or a judicial decision, a war, a sports event, state or national awards, etc that will further need strong inferences, facts, figures and strong reviews of the people, major media inference, people involved and their personal opinions. One should not try this unless one is very thorough with the subject and the consequences. Such essays are generally prosaic, don’t have much scope in the build, but your knowledge and information, and your personal views on the same can really make it outstanding.
About a common idea: This is creative, and gives students a freehold to think, write and also scribble a little in between. These are imaginative subjects, not really critical and allow students to talk a lot of them. If given proper attention, one can build exquisite essays out of them. For example ‘the fine art of murder’, ‘your attitude determines your success’, ‘methods alleviate poverty?’ etc.
Direct & Personalized
These kinds of essays are to assess you directly, your endowments, attitude, skills, thought-process. One should be really careful when they choose such subjects.
About You: In here, you are expected to be blindly personal and bring out your personal concepts and perceptions in profusion. Topics like ‘If you could change someone’s life’, ‘the proudest moment of your life’, ‘the biggest lesson in your life’ etc. not only focus on getting your individual experiences and views, but also checks how confident and picturesque you are in your thoughts to convey them precisely to your audience.
About College: This is tricky enough as a College may seem to make you praise them a lot by asking ‘why you choose us’, but this is not as it seems. They are most likely to assess your focus and goals, and also if those are in alignment with the college principles, their prospects, and opportunities. They also want to judge your fitment in their cultural and educational environment. So once you choose to write about your future goals and your choice of college, be sure to be authentic, transparent and vocal.
So, in the above context and discussion hope it has been clear to you that College Essays are not as simple as they seem to be, and serve as important tools to rise in your career. Once you master the art of writing excellent essays, it will cater as a wonderful resource all your life.
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About Parinita Gupta: Parinita is a full-time banking professional. Additionally, she is also a passionate blogger and digital marketer.
She mostly writes about the Banking & Finance, Technology, and FinTech sector. But, she also enjoys writing on other topics as well. You can follow her on Twitter.
Featured Image Source: Princeton Review