Sarah Kaczynski, Computer Science ’21
Whether you are a high school senior applying to college for the first time, or a current college student looking to transfer to a different school, you are going to have to do some form of writing as part of your application. It can be difficult to know where to start, or what to write about, even when given a prompt. The Common Application, or other similar college application tools, (which allow you to enter data once and write one main essay and send that information to multiple schools) have made this process much less intimidating. That being said, you will still have to write at least one essay. Most prompts are fairly open, even if they mention a certain theme or idea. Through applying to twelve colleges/universities, and being accepted to nine of them, I learned quite a bit about what worked and what didn’t work in terms of my written responses. So, here is some of the best advice I feel that I can give to anyone going through that process:
- Don’t use your essay to beg for entry into a particular school; by applying, you’re already showing your interest. At the same time, though, if there is something that sets that school apart from others that is a main factor in your decision to apply, don’t be afraid to talk about that, so long as it flows with the prompt. There is a big difference between saying “I want to go to this school because it is a good school” and “I want to go to this school because it offers something that other ones don’t, and here’s how that difference can help me pursue my passions…”
- Don’t simply repeat all the basic information that’s included in the rest of your application; rather, use your essay(s) to elaborate on either one or two activities or traits that you mentioned or bring up another important aspect of your life which was not previously mentioned. Doing this allows you to distinguish and share about yourself as a whole person, not just as statistics on a piece of paper.
- Do use your essay(s) to talk about what you are truly passionate about. Even if you have the grades to get into a particular college or university, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the best fit for you. Sharing your most authentic self through your application(s) can help ensure that you get into the school(s) that will allow you to thrive.
- Do proofread your writing multiple times. Even if you are not the most articulate or eloquent writer, taking the time to correct simple spelling and/or grammatical errors shows attention to detail and a commitment to quality work, which are skills that can lend themselves to just about any field of study.
While tips for writing a successful college application can be helpful, it is important to note that there is so much more that goes into being accepted to a school (on your side) and accepting students into a school (on the side of those reviewing your application). In the end, all you can do is put forth your best effort and trust that you will end up where you are meant to be. And if you’re like me, you might just find that you want to go to a certain school based on how well you mesh with the application itself!