I love reading applications (admission nerd here!). My favorite part is reading your essays; they are little short stories, and I adore how they let me into your world. So, here are a few just-in-time essay tips for those of you out there who are polishing (or even just-starting-to-think-about-perhaps-maybe-brainstorming-an-idea-or-two-about) essays:
- When I finish reading an application, I do not remember the student’s GPA or test scores; I remember the person I met through the application. Your essays help me to get to know you, so use the essay to tell me a story that conveys a bit about who you are, who you are becoming, what inspires you, what frustrates you. Rather than starting with a prompt and trying to think of an essay that responds to that particular question, think about a story from your life tells me something important about you and then find the essay prompt that lets you tell that story.
- After you have written a draft of your essay, put it away for a while. When you’re ready, read your essay with fresh eyes and ask yourself: where am I in this essay? Does it sound like me? If I were to give 25 essays on the same basic topic to my best friend, could they pick out which was mine? You want your essay to communicate your voice and enough specifics about your story to give you reader a sense of you.
- Sometimes when we write, the idea in our head doesn’t quite translate to the page or the screen (this happens to me all the time!). Consider giving your essay to an adult that does not know you very well (stay with me) and ask them what they learned about you through your essay. This adult could be a teacher at your school you have not had in class, the colleague of a parent or guardian, a sibling or cousin’s college roommate. These people will not know all the details of your story as a close family member or friend would, so they can help you recognize what you application reader may learn about you from the essay. After all, the people who will read your essays are adults who don’t know you.
Remember, the essay is one piece of a holistic review of an application. Try not to put too much pressure on any one part of our application. It is all the pieces of information together the paint the picture of a potential Olin student.
I cannot wait to read what you have written.