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Why Is The College Essay Important?

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By the time admissions officers reach the essay reading phase of your application review, they already know your GPA. They have inspected your test scores.  They know you were the captain of the basketball team, that you won the 10th grade state science fair, and that your sister is an alumni at the institution to which you are applying. They know how much your parents make and where you live, and the name of the summer camp at which you were a counselor for the last three summers.  What they don’t know when they pick up those double-spaced, perfectly spellchecked pages, is what you’re like in person. What are your outstanding personality traits?  What is it like to spend a day with you?  What motivates you to take action?  Are you sympathetic? Motivated? Serene? Excitable? Supercharged? Rambunctious? What do you care about other than grades and afterschool activities? What are the events that have had a meaningful impact on your life?

When trapped within the confines of a generic college application, so many students look the same. You would not believe how many class presidents there are, or the number of students who achieve perfect scores on the SATs. The only way to make yourself stand out is to show admissions what makes you an individual.  You need to give them a window into something they can’t already see- a small example indicative of a larger personality trait. Maybe it is something of value to a large academic community, a small group of friends, a family. Maybe it is simply an illustration of your advanced ability for self-reflection. What makes you, you? This is your one true chance to show it, and it can make all the difference between rejection and admission.

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