Anyone on the "inside" brave enough to answer...how important is the main essay?

No insider information, but I do feel my S’s essays helped his applications (and he had to write a LOT of them). He was a very strong applicant academically but with no hooks and no significant awards. I believe his LORs were good but not great and he did have strong leadership in two sports plus student government. So, just like so many applicants. I would say his essays were not necessarily “outstanding” (maybe a couple), but were very good. He was admitted to three top 20 universities and one selective LAC (along with quite a few waitlists :slightly_smiling_face:)

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I have no idea how important essays are in general although I do know that they can make a huge difference in some competitive scholarships. My daughter had to write a couple of rounds of essays for each phase of some scholarships applications.

However, I thought that I’d mention on the prep school level, mentioning essays in acceptance letters can be a yield tool on the part of the admissions office. So some prep admissions offices spend time rereading the applicant’s essays AFTER they make their decisions in order to send more personalized notes. That doesn’t mean that the officers didn’t also read and care about the letters during the application process. But at least at some prep schools, the mention of an applicant’s essay in the acceptance letter is also a strategic way for the school to be as warm and welcoming as possible in their outreach to admitted applicants and it may not be a sign that the essay was crucial to the admissions process. Perhaps some smaller colleges operate similarly.

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Thanks to everyone who took the time to share experience/insights. So many resonate – LACs more likely to read carefully, do no harm, try to evoke positive emotions … Still, like @compmom I believe that many essays are heavily supported by professionals, highly skilled at writing “the win” in a 17 year old voice. Not every 17 year old is capable of/willing to share deep truths on paper, and it seems unfair to view that in a negative light.

Really enjoyed reading these posts.

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Just curious … was the “go big or go home” really off the wall (like a one sentence political statement, a haiku, etc.) or was it just a unique topic?

Unique point of view on a philosophical/political issue.

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Define many. I would say not most. I can’t imagine as a percentage that it’s very high of kids who get professional help as it’s costly. And as for someone getting a pre written or heavily edited essay to turn in, I hope 1% or less.

I’m sure 95%+ kids do the work as should yours.

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The percentage of kids who get professional essay help must vary by location and student population. It’s extremely common in my competitive NYC suburb and many of the people who offer this service are professional writers/editors. The cost isn’t bad, especially if you do a group class through the local library or adult school. Many kids get essay help for free from the high school’s AP Language and Composition teacher.

Yea. I hired someone for feedback but the comment made (in my interpretation) was they were being written by them (the pro). Not assisting with organization, flow, etc.

Let’s get back to the OP’s question.

The answer is that no one will truly know but I wouldn’t want to take the chance and find out.

The schools tell you they read them. Why doubt them ?

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