In your experience, just how important are the essays in elite admissions, specifically to schools like Harvard?
I've heard varying statements on their importance.
I understand that students accepted to Harvard have some sort of "spark," so to speak, on their application. So, in the case of students who have competitive grades and test scores, good extracurriculars, etc., but for whom the essay is the outstanding piece of their application, can the essay be that "spark"?
Does anyone have experiences where they feel their essay was the true deciding factor?
Sorry this is such a long post--I just don't see the essay discussed very often on this forum and I'm quite curious about its significance.