The Purpose of the College Essay and Why It Matters
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Jordan Sanchez in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
There are several aspects to your admissions profile. The first is your academic performance, which is measured by your GPA, class rank, and other academic achievements. The second is your extracurricular activities, which should speak to your passions inside and outside of the classroom. The third is your scores on exams, including the SAT, ACT, AP, IBS, and subject tests. The fourth and final part of your admissions profile is essays, including your personal statement and any supplemental essays.
However, many schools are now adopting test-optional policies, and, for some students, that can mean losing the exam section of their admissions profile. In this case, the essay will hold even more weight. Essays usually make up 25% to 30% of an admissions profile.
The Common App Essay
The Common App essay is typically the only chance that admissions officers have to hear from you directly, so make the most of this opportunity. Whether an essay is optional or required, you should always complete it to the best of your ability.
The Common App essay should give the admissions committee a clear sense of who you are. Your writing should showcase your personality and how you would fit in with the culture of the school to which you’re applying. The essay functions to complete the picture that you’ve painted with the rest of your application. It’s a chance to show how you’ve grown throughout your high school experience or how you’ve remained consistent if that’s the case. You can talk about major life experiences or lessons that you’ve learned; many students focus on a specific moment in their lives and how it has affected them.
In your writing, be as specific as possible about yourself and your experiences. Throughout the process, ask yourself this question: could anyone else write this essay? Writing about your specific life experiences is a guaranteed way to make your essay stand out.
Remember, a strong essay can even make up for weaknesses in other areas of your application.