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What are essays judged on?

Science2014Science2014 Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
edited June 2013 in College Essays
Because everyone has different topics, how do readers determine which ones "stand out?" Is it necessary to point out adversity or to highlight the potential "diversity" you will bring to the campus in order to get yourself placed into the accept pile?
Post edited by Science2014 on

Replies to: What are essays judged on?

  • halcyonheatherhalcyonheather Registered User Posts: 8,987 Senior Member
    IMO, the writing quality. Most high school students aren't great writers and when you see one who is, it's not the specific story they're telling that matters - you just want to keep reading.
  • AtypicalAsianAtypicalAsian Registered User Posts: 388 Member
    Bump 10char
  • joeycaliforniajoeycalifornia Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    For one, essay writing gauges the quality of your thought process. Do your thoughts flow logically from start to finish, or do they jump around without any underlying central theme? Do your statements make sense, or do you employ non-sequiters and other argumentative fallacies? Do you say what you need to say elegantly, yet concisely, or is your essay littered with redundant sentences and phrases?

    The essay also allows an admissions committee to gain more insight into who you are as a person. This is why it's important to show, using specific examples, why you are unique and what sets you apart from the rest of the applicant pool. Don't just reiterate what is on your transcript and resume, since they will already have those things.

    Third, the essays allow you to explain why you want to attend that institution. This is where you want to make sure to avoid vague, generalized statements. Saying you want to attend a school because "it's one of the top engineering schools in the country" isn't really saying anything of substance. What research are they doing that is interesting to you? What sorts of opportunities do they offer that are appealing to you? Why that institution, and not another one that is similar?
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,161 Senior Member
    Princeton offers some good advice on how Admissions reads essay and what they look for: Part 1: Answers From Princeton's Dean of Admission - NYTimes.com

    QUESTION: You hear admission officers and counselors talk about how important the essay is and how it shows that you are not just a test score. The importance, however, is still not clear. What exactly does an admission officer think as he goes about an applicant’s essay? What does he look for? What works in the applicant’s favor?

    ANSWER: Your ability to write well is critical to our decision because your writing reflects your thinking. No matter what question is asked on a college application, admission officers are looking to see how well you convey your ideas and express yourself in writing. It is our window to your world.

    Your command of the English language, whether or not you are a native speaker, is important because you will be asked to write extensively when you get to our campuses.

    The best applications come from students who have spent time writing their essays, editing their work, and refining their message.

    It is important to answer the question that is asked by a specific school, and not just to “recycle” one essay. This is not the time to take an academic paper you have written for a high school course and edit it for the application essay. This is your moment to be authentic.

    Let me suggest that you take this opportunity to sit down and write about a topic you care about and know well. If you are stuck, you might begin with this question from the Common Application: “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.”

    Each of you has someone in your life who has played a role in your development, someone to whom you are grateful, and someone you could describe well. That person may be an adult, a child or a peer. Write a draft that you can put aside for a few days or weeks and edit later. Even if this is not the final essay you send to a college, it will get you started, and working from a draft is much easier than staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor.

    Please resist the Web sites that give you access to college essays. This needs to be your own work. Your integrity in this process is paramount.
  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,542 Senior Member
    That Common App prompt doesn't have to be about real person. One of my kids wrote about the influence of a fictional character since discovering him at age 8, and got into every college applied to. Including some top colleges.
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