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How important are essays to the app ?

Twiggy22Twiggy22 336 replies93 postsRegistered User Member
edited January 2014 in College Essays
Are college app essay important to the college? Some say its just a tie breaker, some say its make or break ?
If its different for every school Than specifically I mean for UC's and University of Miami.
edited January 2014
21 replies
Post edited by Twiggy22 on
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Replies to: How important are essays to the app ?

  • SplashofScienceSplashofScience 105 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    It's volatile. That's probably the best way to describe it. A great personal statement will always, always help you.

    A weak personal statement can sometimes hurt, and at other times the reader won't even blink an eye in the face out outstanding achievements and academics.

    Because it's a one page story vs. years of hard work in high school, you want to do the best you can on it.
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  • franciaffranciaf 7 replies5 postsRegistered User New Member
    hi, i just read a book on ivy league essays and the authors (who both graduated form harvard) had interviewed some deans of admissions at dartmouth and yale. I cant remember which on it was but basically the dean of admissions said that if the application is weak, the essay would have to be out of this galaxy outstanding to sway the decision of the admissions officers. also, if the application was super strong and the essay sucked ****, i wouldn't affect the app too much. basically, they said that the essay was only really important to people who's application wasn't very weak but wasn't very strong. thats when it would end up being the deciding factor for whether or not a student gets accepted. hope this helps.
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  • humanities2014humanities2014 206 replies21 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I know this is a late bump, but just to add... It's really, really, really hard to be outstanding academically. You got 4.0/4.0 unweighted gpa? You got 5.0/5.0 weighted gpa? You have seven or eight APs you got 4 or 5? You got 2400 SAT or 36 ACT? Good for you. But there are tons of other applicants out there got the same spec. If you are applying for tier 2 schools with that spec, you will pretty much get in unless your essays really, really s*ck. But if you are applying for tier 1 schools, you can rarely "outstand" with your academics. Taking college courses, being in a science research team... They are rather common for kids who are applying for the top tier schools. So the essay is pretty much the only thing that distinguishes you. ECs might make you outstanding, but many of the ECs are kinda similar (honor society, Model UNs, sports varsity, community work, prize from olympiads...). Not saying scores aren't important. But it's just the base, not the one that decides if you are in or not.
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  • BruinsARBruinsAR 23 replies0 posts. New Member
    Oh, you bet is important. With so many students with high GPA and perfect SAT scores, essays would eventually decide you get in or not.
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  • JimaaaaaJimaaaaa 15 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Essays are the best way for you to stand out so def make sure you work on them
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  • hopefulwisphopefulwisp 14 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Can't hurt for you to make your essay a good one...
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  • ShirleyxxyShirleyxxy 123 replies8 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Scores are base and undoubtedly they are important, but consider how many people apply to UCs, I'd say essays can determine whether you get in.(of course you need solid scores in the first place)
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  • ImpactrecruitingImpactrecruiting 9 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Admission officers read through hundreds of essays(if not more), an essay has to truly outstanding to affect the objective elements of grades and scores.

    It can contribute to a strong candidate getting a better look but it is highly unlikely to turn it around for a weak applicant.
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  • bomerrbomerr 1952 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    You can see the stats for yourselves here: https://www.admissions.ucla.edu/prospect/Adm_fr/Frosh_Prof11.htm

    90% of those admitted into UCLA had GPAs above 4.0. But out of the those people only about half got in.

    In short, for top 25 Unis, you need both good grades and statement.
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  • hangtuahhangtuah 8 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    I think your grades and essay are equally important, especially if you aim for competitive schools.
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  • dumbitdownjrdumbitdownjr 16 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Yeah it varies a lot.
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  • dumbitdownjrdumbitdownjr 16 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Actually I would say your grades and ACT is more important then essays.
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  • fl9999fl9999 22 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I have read similar comments many times but I just don't buy it. College admissions officers are not stupid. They know that essays are rarely an applicant's truly original work. By that I mean that nearly all essays (especially for very competitive schools) have been read, commented, edited and even rewritten by someone other than the applicant. Some have probably even been written completely by someone else. I am not condoning this in any way but it is a reality. Essay are edited by parents, college counselors, English teachers, and even others on this website. So why would an admissions officer let this be a deciding factor? There is simply no mechanism to know if it is truly the applicant's original work. I know they say it matters, but I find it hard to believe that the essay is anything more than a minor factor. My guess is that is a check the box type factor for most admissions offices. As long as it is decent, I highly doubt that it matters much, even at elite schools. My guess (again) is that your schedule, grades and test scores get you into the group of acceptable applicants. At that point, EC's become vitally important. Just my opinion of course.
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  • bomerrbomerr 1952 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ You haven't read enough personal statement if you making that kind of claim. 1st at the highest level* there are too many applicants of similar academic backgrounds. 3.9-4.0 UW, 2300+ SAT, 5+ APs, etc. Similarly most people have the exact same ECs. Even if a person is the valedictorian of their High School, there are ~25,000 HS in America. Personal statements at the upper level* are truly the defining factor between applicants. Your notion that all personal statements are the same is 100% false. Even with teacher or parental help I have seen a MASSIVE difference in quality.

    *When I say upper level i mean top 20-20 or so universities with special emphasis on privates.

    A quick run down of how I group PS:

    -A few people have truly great personal statements. These are unique statements. They show the applicants life or background. They are NOT generic. They ARE personalized.
    -A big more people have okay statements. They answer the prompt but they aren't that interesting to read. Make no mistake these essays are still far better than average.
    -About the same amount of people have well-written but lacking substance essays. These are the people who I know got 33+s on their ACTs. The writing style is amazing but their is no content. I don't know anything about the applicant from reading the essay.
    -The BULK of applicants have bad essays. Generic Immigrant Story with the parents working hard would fall into here. Giving some random story from their life that doesn't say much would also be here.
    -A handful of people have essays that actually make them worse candidates. I read an essay about how someone trashed their kitchen and left their mom to clean up the mess.

    To recap. If I was at a selective university personal statements would be make or break the candidates. Good grades and ECs is only gonna cut it at the lower levels. (UCLA-ish and under).
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  • fl9999fl9999 22 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Where did I say they were the same? I never said that. I said that I cannot imagine that admissions counselors at elite schools put much weight on essays because they know that they are so heavily edited. There are college counselors charging over $25K (I have even heard $50K) to help get students into elite schools. Don't you think they are very involved in writing essays? Don't you think admissions offices know this? Why would they give much weight to an essay when they have no mechanism to determine if it is truly the applicant's original work?

    I agree most applicants at these schools have similar schedule strength, GPA, and test scores (or are at least in the range). But I disagree that most students have the same ECs. What a student does outside the classroom seems to me to be much more relevant than an essay. Again, I have no personal knowledge of admissions offices at elite schools, but I find it hard to believe that it is a key factor. Again, I am sure the essays have to be good, but i doubt they are determinative.
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  • bomerrbomerr 1952 replies4 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ You missed the whole point. Editing at worst is lipstick on a pig. People can have as many people as they want edit an essay but if the quality isn't there, it isn't there. The great personal statements have substance that clearly isn't fake. This is why personal statements count.

    Anyone can join their school's club and gain NHS status. If a person can't expand upon that EC in their essay then it doesn't really mean much.

    Read enough personal statements and you'll come to the same conclusion.
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  • fl9999fl9999 22 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I agree that a poor essay can cause a rejection, and rightfully so. A serious applicant should submit a strong essay. But I don't buy the flip side. So a student applying to an elite school with a marginal SAT or ACT writing score submits an exceptional essay and that gets him or her in?? That makes no sense as it would give an unfair advantage to the wealthy student who can hire the best counselor. Bomerr thinks I am talking about minor editing but I am not. It is much more substantive. And admissions offices know this.
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  • disari21disari21 186 replies37 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Money can buy essays. Hey, but money also can buy SAT scores(best tutors&books), grades(tutors), EC's(are you an IMO four-time gold winner? how much do your parents spend on math tutors?, did you build an orphanage in Uzbekistan? who gave you the money to travel there?), interviews(coaches), reference letters(how many times have your $50k counselors edited them?).

    As you can see, money can buy EVERYTHING, so NOTHING matters in the admission process. Do nothing, and you'll get into the college of your dreams!!!
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  • SplashofScienceSplashofScience 105 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited January 2014
    Think about it this way -

    1) High school involves thousands of hours of hard work.

    All those hours get compacted into a small set of letters that validate how hard-working and capable you are.

    2) Every year, there are more than enough capable applicants applying to every top university in the US.

    3) The easiest way you can stand out from the hundreds of applicants with identical stats and extracurriculars as yourself is to write a memorable personal statement.

    To get a better understanding of the 'big picture', check this out - http://theappstyle.com/guide/find-your-groove/

    edited January 2014
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  • fl9999fl9999 22 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    That's a really helpful article. Thanks.
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