Standing Out in College Admissions

In an exciting trend, colleges are waiving traditional entrance exams and test scores in favor of personal statements or essays. While high schools sometimes prep students to write these entrance essays, they typically have a multitude of students and a dearth of time to devote to each one. And then many individual universities require submitting individually tailored essays to their specific prompts. For the prospective student, this is a daunting task.

Most use the Common App with its standard prompts to answer, which then allow you to apply to up to twenty colleges in one dashboard. Just add your colleges or universities – it will walk you through each part of those as well, leading you to the point where you review and then submit. While this needing to apply on multiple college websites and streamlines the process – thereby reducing stress – this new process has challenges all its own. It’s overstimulating with all the sections and subsections. What’s required? What’s optional? And what does “optional” truly mean?

Additionally, how do you write a personal statement that catches the admission department’s attention? The prompts are more thought-provoking than ever and give a wide berth for creativity, innovation, and individuality. Once you get past that, what about those supplemental essays, Q&A, and short-answer sections? I have solutions.

Read my post about pain points for college and grad applicants!

All of this shows that, not surprisingly, the approach has dramatically evolved. Admissions counselors see tens of thousands of applicants’ statements. Standing out is key, and you don’t have much space to do it. You need a well-honed topic, and 650 words run out quickly. Here are my top three tips: 

Don’t restate the question in your essay. You’ve now used up valuable word space

Answer the question – otherwise you’re showing you can’t follow simple directions.

Stick to one topic per essay and one topic only – and let yourself be the star.

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you begin to structure your essay. If you’re struggling to narrow your focus and branch out your possibilities, why not schedule a consultation with me? I’ll go through your essay drafts and assist you in ironing out topics. The goal? Getting you to stand out and submit an essay that lands in the acceptance pile instead of being deferred or passed over. 

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