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Why The College Application Essay Matters

EssayMany young adults in 2014 do not have a strong sense of history and thus cannot appreciate 60’s/70’s Classic Rock bands like The Who. Arguing about the merits of music during a golden g-g-g-g-generation is certainly not what this article is about but one song from The Who, not the song subtly referenced earlier in this sentence, ties directly into the College Application Essay.

When presenting the full picture of a student’s worth to a college, much of the information provided is a combination of standardized test scores, transcripts and bullet points. Perhaps the greatest advantage to the College Application Essay is the chance for the student to really answer the question, “Who are you?”

Forced analogies aside, the essay does play a key role in the full application process for several reasons. Beyond allowing for expression and personality, the essay tests the student’s ability to critically think and make a definitive statement to address a prompt or prompts.

Sometimes these essays are short, 100 words or less, other times these essays are 500 words or more. The very short essays ask for especially concise points or arguments.

The longer essays yield more opportunity for the creative juices to flow and for the revelation of style and substance. Regardless of the length however, application essays bring forward the student’s voice and the greatest parallel to standard facts and figure (i.e. the GPA and SAT/ACT test scores). For once the student completely controls and owns the message that he or she wants to get across, nobody else.

It is the unique nature of the essay in comparison to the other acceptance requirements that yield an excellent opportunity for students. It is easy to know if an essay is given minimal effort, such as when a student simply answers the main questions without detail or originality.

Maintaining similar sentence structure and using the same adjectives repeatedly tells the reviewer that the essay is simply a means to an end, while variance and enthusiasm captivates.

While the GPA, standardized test scores and class selection tend to receive the greatest amount of attention from teachers and guidance counselors, the essay should absolutely warrant great attention. Some colleges stress the essays more than others but an effective essay presents a personal touch that connects the student and the essay reviewer.

Self-expression may have changed since the days of The Who, but today’s student clearly demands to be heard. For those students looking to make a real impression on admissions officers, the essay is the best mechanism to do so.