The following is a guest post by Carol Barash, PhD, the Founder and CEO of Story to College.
Class of 2013: take charge of your college application essays this summer! Great essays take time, reflection, and a bit of mucking around in the parts of your life that have raw edges and things not already figured out.
Colleges want to know who you are. Really. They want to hear your voice. When you walk onto their campus in the fall of 2013 (yes, you will!), what do you bring with you in the invisible suitcase that holds your life experiences, your dreams and commitments?
Your essays are the one place in the application where you are totally in control.
Here are 10 reasons you should toss out your thesaurus, forget what your parents and teachers think you should write about – or what you think “colleges want” – and begin writing about your own experience from your unique point of view:
1. Voice: College Application Essays are your one chance to speak to college admissions authentically in your own voice. Make the most of it! ‘
2. Credibility: Many colleges put students’ application essays through the same software they use to detect student plagiarism. If your essay isn’t yours, it won’t make it through the gate (source: https://copyleaks.com/education/plagiarism-checker-for-schools).
3. Youth: College admissions officers are looking for young people who have the courage to speak for themselves, not someone who is perfectly manicured and sounds like a 40-year-old editor.
4. Perspective: One of the things colleges look for in the essay is a unique voice or perspective on the world. Your essay is a chance to explore what perspective you bring to a college community and to share it with others.
5. Reality: If the essay is too perfect, you don’t sound real. Colleges aren’t looking for perfect students from central casting, but the real live human being you will be in college. Your essays are your chance to show them who that person is.
6. Vulnerability: Colleges like students who are available to learning and new experiences. Only you can convey that sense of what you want to learn and become in college. No one can do that work for you.
7. Independence: College is a chance to grow up, to live and think independently. The application process is a chance to begin flexing those muscles.
8. Becoming: Colleges look for students who will thrive and grow in their communities. They call this your “fit” for their programs. If your essay seems too perfect, you look like maybe you don’t need what colleges offer.
9. Money: Save your money for college.
10. Integrity: You sign each college application you send saying that it is all your own work. Do you really want to make your first act as a college student a lie?
Check out 21 Days of Summer for tips and tools you can use to master your college applications – start to finish – this summer. Do you have questions about the admissions process? Ask Admissions on our web site, and get honest answers from the people who will read your applications next fall!