USA Today did a great piece on 5 top college essay blunders. I’m going to add some of my own: One mistake I see kids making is trying to cram everything they know/want/think into one essay. An entire life experience – whether you an octogenarian or a teen – can’t really be fit into 250-500 words. An essay is not a résumé, after all. Rather, one thought, one quirk, one person or book who moved you in a unique way gives you a better opportunity to explore – and explain – your thinking. Zelda Fitgerald once wrote that what she missed most about her father after he died was the particular way he tented his fingers when he spoke. That single detail brought all of her emotions – loss, love, the power of memory – to light. What is the one detail or anecdote that can become the focal point for your essay? It is worth taking the time to think about that before you write. For more thoughts, go to
In today’s ultra-competitive admissions process, your personal statement has never been more important. Unlike standardized test scores and GPAs, an admissions essay can truly set your application apart from those submitted by the thousands of applicants you’re competing with. Even near-perfect scores and grades are not enough to earn you admission at the most elite schools and programs today. That’s because the average applicant is significantly more qualified today than he or she was a decade ago. With so many qualified applicants competing for a limited number of spots, admissions committees have turned to other elements of the application to make difficult decisions about who to accept and who to reject.